Monday Reads

Good Morning!  Quelle Surprise! Pop Culture is still Misogynist, Racist, and Homophobic!

Pige-Manga-BWI found some interesting reads over the weekend so I hope you’ll enjoy them!   They are all sort’ve stories that actually reflect a lot of the things that fascinate and entertain me.  I love strategy games and have been playing them on line for quite some time  Actually, it’s been since the early 1990s when most of the games were simply text oriented.  I also love animation art, and books, and of course, music. So, here’s a little bit on that and a little bit of stuff that has to do with social justice too.  If I do a have a consistent train of thought here it is that so much of what should be entertaining and could be informative can sow bad seeds.  I’ve a few examples where the pop and geek culture are taking on hard topics. Some are  successful and examining crucial human stories.  Some rely on the same old misogyny, racism, and homobigotry.

Japanese Manga is a way many creative people in Japan explore how they feel about a variety of things. This article is about a new manga book on the lives of the Fukashima plant workers.

A manga that describes the reality of daily life at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant through the eyes of a worker is enjoying popularity.

“Ichiefu” (1F), written by Kazuto Tatsuta, 49, first appeared in autumn 2013 as a serial comic in the weekly magazine “Morning,” published by Kodansha Ltd. Ichiefu stands for the Fukushima No. 1 plant among locals.

The comic was published in book form on April 23. The publisher shipped a total of 150,000 copies of the first volume, which is an unusually large number for a little-known manga artist.

Tatsuta said he changed jobs repeatedly after graduating from university. At the same time, he also worked as a comic strip artist.

It was when he was considering another job change that the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred, triggering the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant.

While seeking a better-paying job, Tatsuta also wondered what part he could do as a citizen of Japan to help. As a result, he began to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from June 2012 for a total of six months.

“Ichiefu” describes the situation at the plant in great detail. The descriptions of equipment, such as the masks and protective gear the workers used, and the procedures they took to measure radiation levels make readers feel as if they are there and reading actual worker manuals.

The comic also depicts intimate practices only workers there would know. For example, the workers always say “Be safe” to each other before starting their shifts.

Each of the workers was also required to stop working when his dosimeter issued a fourth warning sound.

I quit playing a few games last year that I had really grown fond of because of the rampant misogyny and homophobia of many of the white male manga-dark-warriorplayers.  I had repeatedly asked them to constrain their language, behavior, and what they posted.  I am fortunately playing a game right now where that’s not the case.  I am still one of the few female players in my alliance.  I believe I am one of two but I have found that I generally enjoy better game play if I am in an alliance where there are many openly gay men.  This NPR article summarizes a series of articles that are focused on white male privilege in the online game atmosphere.

In video games, sexism often comes in the form of male-dominated storylines and character archetypes. In the video game community, it takes a more menacing shape.

It ranges from attempts to silence female critics to the harassment of fellow players. Some harassment even goes so far as phone calls and rape threats, as one female game developer found out last year.

“The issue is often framed as a women’s issue, but sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny in gaming is not a women’s issue — it’s a gaming community issue,” says Jonathan McIntosh, a producer for the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Web series.

Last week, McIntosh wrote a piece for gaming website Polygon about what he calls the “invisible benefits” that males experience while playing video games. In the post, he lists 25 effects of “male gamer privilege.” Here’s a sample:

  • I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
  • I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male.
  • I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
  • I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender.
  • I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default.
  • If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult.
  • My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.

So far, the reaction to his post — both in the more than 700 comments on the piece and elsewhere — has been relatively civil. As McIntosh pointed out on Twitter, he doubts it would have been as civil if he had been a female writer raising the same points.

“I’m saying the same thing that women have been saying for years,” McIntosh says. “There’s nothing in my piece that’s really new, it’s just that it’s coming from me. If my name was Joanna McIntosh … I’d be called irrational, I’d be called hysterical and I’d be called too sensitive.”

One other thing that I did not mention last week but I would like to mention this week is the rape scene between the Lannister twins in Game of Thrones.  The same scene in the book actually was rough but consensual.  

There’s been a lot of discussion, Internet rage, and general overall hoopla following Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, as the television show made the most shocking book-to-screen deviation to date. *Spoiler free for future books.*

Jaime and Cersei finally had their reunited love scene, and suddenly for book readers, Jeyne Westerling seemed like a small cinematic sacrifice to make in comparison. I don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion on whether or not this scene constitutes as rape. Smarter people than I have alreadydonethat.

What we have to work with in the scene is what the characters said and did because we can’t know how they felt. And whether or not the scene was intended to come across as consensual sex, the way the scene was cut by the director makes it definitive to the audience that it was not consensual. Cersei repeatedly said no while Jaime forced himself on top of her and answered that he didn’t care as his creepy voiceover carried out onto a shot of Arya staring at mountains. If that’s all we know about the scene, then yes, in the television show Jaime raped Cersei.

The “debate” about the rape has been nearly as upsetting as the rape itself.  I liked this take clearly stating that rape is not a “narrative device”.

In some ways, it’s useful for television shows to acknowledge the extent of sexual violence in our culture. These narratives allow necessary stories to be told. But the execution is too easy. From daytime soap operas to prestige cable shows, rape is all too often used to place the degradation of the female body and a woman’s vulnerability at the center of the narrative. Rape is used to create drama and ratchet up ratings. And it’s rare to see the brutality and complexity of a rape accurately conveyed on-screen. Instead, we are treated to an endless parade of women being forced into submission as the delicate and wilting flowers television writers and producers seem to want them to be.

download (9)I am still wondering why there seems to be a renaissance in misogny, racism and homobigotry.  You would think that the sports arena would have made better strides against racism given that teams and fans are fully integrated to the idea that there are players of many races.  However, it seems the real money and power behind the bread and circuses are still those rich, horrid, white men.  We talked about the Clippers’ owner last week.  There is, of course, more on that.

Deadspin has acquired an extended, 15-minute version of the conversation between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. If the original nine-minute tape acquired by TMZ left any questions about Sterling’s opinions regarding minorities, the audio here should remove all doubt that he’s a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation.

The Clippers themselves showed some class this week in a protest that was priceless.  There will undoubtedly be more coming and hopefully the NBA can find a way to strip Sterling of the franchise.

The Clippers gathered at center court before a118-97 Game 4 loss in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. They then warmed up wearing inside-out red shooting shirts that did not display the Clippers name or logo. During the game, players wore black arm or wrist bands and black socks.

In other news, water is still wet and Sarah Palin is still one of the dumbest people on the planet.  This is the money quote she gave the NRA: ‘Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists’.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) defended the controversial enhanced interrogation technique of waterboarding this weekend, and implied that the practice would still be commonplace “if I were in charge.”

“They obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad,” she said at the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting on Saturday evening, referring to prisoners. “Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

The remark stands in stark contrast to the opinion of her former running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The former Republican presidential nominee, who spent more than five years in a prison camp during the Vietnam War, has repeatedly denounced the practice, which he says is torture.

In her speech, Palin praised the NRA, a group whose members “are needed now more than ever, because every day we are seeing more and more efforts to strip away our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

I am still waiting for some examples of how any government in the US is stripping away the second amendment rights.  I do, however, have thousands of examples of how women are losing their right to self determination.

My last offering this morning is yet another in depth article on the demise of the middle class in the USA.  Middle class Americans are an endangered species.

Wages for millions of American workers, particularly those without college degrees, have flat-lined. Census figures show the median household income in 2012 was no higher than it was 25 years ago. Men’s median wages were lower than in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, many of the expenses associated with a middle-class life have increased beyond inflation. This includes college tuition, whose skyrocketing cost has laid siege to a bedrock principle of the American Dream: that your children will do better than you did.

recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia found that 40 percent of those calling themselves middle class felt less financially secure than they were just a few years ago. Forty-five percent said they worry “a lot” about having enough money stashed away for retirement, and 57 percent said they worry about meeting their bills. Less than half said they expect their kids to do any better.

Fewer Americans find themselves in the heart of the middle class with every passing year.

In the mid-1970s, the majority of Americans were in the middle, with 52 percent earning the equivalent (in today’s dollars) of $35,000 to $100,000. Today, according to census figures, the share of households earning under $35,000 is virtually unchanged, 35 percent. The shift has occurred in the other two categories. Households with incomes over $100,000 have doubled, to 22 percent, while less than 44 percent are in the middle cluster.

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


Friday Reads: NOLA Daily No More and Elusive Escaped Penguin is Caught

Good Morning!

JJ here, while Dakinikat is off seeing her oldest daughter get married, I’ve got the honor of taking her place on this morning’s reads!

Over the past few weeks you have seen that I have a fondness for cartoons. Not just the political/editorial ones, but all cartoons. I have hundreds of yellowed and crinkled newsprint cartoons stashed away in drawers, boxes, plastic bags and the few that are very special, I still have taped to my fridge. Some have little messages scribbled on them, maybe an extra doodle drawn to represent something specifically funny, like an inside joke within the family.

I did not limit it to cartoons, there were many times an article would pop out at me, begging for it to be clipped. Of course, I would make my little editorial comments in the borders…And it wasn’t just me who would do this, my mom would do it too. Sometimes I would get a surprise letter in the mail, and in it would be a newspaper clipping of a cartoon or an article that she thought I would laugh like hell at, for example say….about some group of midgets in drag, robbing a Burger King….I am not kidding on that one!

And lets not forget clipping obituaries or recipes…or historic moments. (The attic of our hundred year old house in Newtown, Connecticut had a newspaper from when the Titanic sunk, when FDR was elected for his first term, and when FDR died.)

So when I moved nine years ago from the big city to Banjoville, I expected to have our newspaper, the “legal organ” of Union County published once a week, on Tuesdays. Except for Election Day…that always means a Wednesday delivery.

Since then I have been able to print out a cartoon here or there, but is isn’t the same thing. There is something magical in the feel and look of newsprint, am I right? If you are “lucky” it will smudge your fingers a bit, and as the time goes by, the edges start to curl up…and the dirt and grease marks get darker and darker…the paper gets yellower and yellower. It is a way to mark the passage of time.

The reason I am waxing romantic about newspapers is they are becoming a thing of the past. Like the big dinosaurs, one day they will all become extinct. Yes, in small towns, the weekly is the main form of local news, but in huge cities, residents are finding that they will no longer receive that daily pile of newsprint.

New Orleans is now possibly the only major city in the US without a daily newspaper. The Times/Picayune has stopped its daily print news…opting for the “digital” version. (You can still get a print paper a few days a week, but there is no guarantee it won’t disappear all together.)

Late Night: The Latest Casualty

Another newspaper died today.  Not just any paper; the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which has been publishing since 1837.  Officially, it is merely cutting daily print editions to Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, but what with letting over a third of the staff go,  NOLA.com will be something, but it won’t be a newspaper, despite the absurd claims from its publisher that this was some sort of “adaption to the digital era.”  Really?  In the digital era I know, the only thing lame about papers is that they only come out once a day; will letting them sit in the box for three days make them somehow more appealing, as keepsakes, perhaps?

If the newspaper industry were serious about going digital, rather than just reaping larger profits and putting yet another squeeze on its long-suffering employees, it would not be leaving in place any of the absurdly costly and wasteful process of printing and delivery, which will continue to be massive and now underutilized investments.  No, what the bloated and mismanaged conglomerates that now own our newspapers want is slow death and golden parachutes for all concerned, and the less any actual journalism gets involved, the better.

The parent company of the Times-Picayune is Newhouse, and they have decided to forgo the paper’s paper, and of course, a number of their employees…

As revenue began to dry up from all three of these previously reliable sources, the corporate leadership of virtually every major daily decided to tackle the problem the same, self-defeating way: cutting staff, eliminating departments, and turning once-useful functions over to the sales side; most notably car reviews.  Each false economy eroded the only intrinsic value of the legacy newspaper: its credibility, stability, and connection to the community.  To maximize “shareholder value” in the short term, newspapers casually threw away the very things that readers actually valued.  To no one’s surprise, a decade or two of essentially selling pink slime and calling it hamburger did end up causing plummeting circulation, which is now used to justify yet further cuts in the product quality.  What, pray tell, is worse than pink slime?

Sadly, a lot.  Fox News viewers have once again been found to be less informed than the comatose, and back in the days after Hurricane Katrina, the Times-Picayune heroically countered their malevolent misinformation even when its presses were literally underwater.  When I was in New Orleans a year later,  the local reverence for the paper was still apparent; until dark, papers littered the tables of every corner pub and coffeehouse.  But all the Newhouse executives could see in this improbable renaissance was declining margins, grabby unions, and a daily torrent of comment abuse from the (white) readers outside the city.   So they canned it, but just partly, for show.

Yeah…what about that. I know lots of people who do not have internet, or iPads or SmartPhones…or e-readers. WTF (where the fuck) will they get their news?

I will quote the last paragraph of this excellent post on FDL:

The death of the Times-Picayune is unremarkable, I suppose, given the recent deaths of papers from Seattle, Denver, and elsewhere.  But those papers left at least one daily community voice in their wake.  New Orleans is now the only major American city that I can think of that’s lost its only daily paper.  Journalism is dying in America, by a thousand cuts of Bain-style “creative destruction,” and it’s no great leap to think that on some level it’s being done deliberately.  I think it was Jefferson who said he’d rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers, but it seems our corporate overlords have decided they’d like to try it the other way around.

And sadly, NOLA is not the only city losing a print paper. Alabama Media Group, a new digitally focused company, will launch this fall with expanded online coverage and enhanced three-day-a-week newspapers

Wow, it’s an epidemic!

A new digitally focused media company — the Alabama Media Group, which will include The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile, The Huntsville Times and al.com — will launch this fall to serve readers and advertisers across the state, according to Cindy Martin, who will become president of the new organization.

The change is designed to reshape how Alabama’s leading media companies deliver award-winning local news, sports and entertainment coverage in an increasingly digital age. The Alabama Media Group will dramatically expand its news-gathering efforts around the clock, seven days a week, while offering enhanced printed newspapers on a schedule of three days a week. The newspapers will be home-delivered and sold in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only.

(You see what is happening, no more newspapers, post office or social security, don’t laugh, it is coming!)

A second company, Advance Central Services Alabama, will handle production, distribution, technology, finance and human resources, and will be led by current Birmingham News President and Publisher Pam Siddall. Both companies are owned by Advance Publications, Inc.

Driving these changes are rapid advances in how readers engage with news content across all platforms, print and digital, said Martin, who is currently the President and CEO of al.com.

Eventually the only form of “news” will be the kind of crap we see on the “cable networks” or online, which will be bought and paid for by corporations…aka people…who will put their own spin on things. No…wait a moment, that is the way it is now!

(emphasis mine BTW)

The change in organizational structures across all departments will lead to a reduction in the overall size of the workforce. Details are still being worked out, Martin said.

There are always painful choices when you begin a process that will lead to people losing their jobs,” Martin said. “But at the same time, we must position ourselves to be sustainable businesses going forward. The new companies we launch in the fall, we believe, not only achieve that, but will serve our growing audiences and advertisers better than ever before.”

Yup, you bet your ass it will…serve up the latest news, in style! (Or cloaked in whatever shade your advertisers prefer.)

Tailor your news to fit your audience, right: Daily Caller Doling Out Guns To Its Readers Now Through Election Day

The Daily Caller, the proudly racist and rabidly right-wing website of adult Pee-Wee Herman doll and epic media failure Tucker Carlson, is no longer going to pretend that it cares about decency and decorum. The website that set of many alarms following the Trayvon Martin murder and the racist responses that its users plastered all over the place, is now offering one handgun per week from now until election day.

Here’s the actual announcement:
The Daily Caller will be giving away one gun per week until Election Day – November 6, 2012. The FMK9C1 is an American-made high capacity 9mm designed by Jim Pontillo and manufactured in California. Each gun is engraved with the Bill of Rights and comes in one of three colors.

To enter this week’s contest, simply sign up below to receive updates from The Daily Caller. Our DC
Morning emails are an informative and amusing way to keep up with the latest news. To enter the giveaway you must complete the form below agreeing to all terms and conditions associated with the contest.

I swear, the country is going to hell in a big ass hand-basket. Actually, that is not true anymore, who the hell carries a hand-basket now a days? The country is going to hell in a touch screen…made in China…and brought to you by the Koch Brothers.

Now, since I wrote so much about the end of an era…let us have the rest of today’s links in a news dump…

Chen Guangchen is talking about his horrific ordeal: Chen Guangcheng Sits Down With Anderson Cooper: ‘My Suffering Was Beyond Imagination’

And, another former house arrest activist is finally giving her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize she won, over two decades ago: Suu Kyi to give Nobel speech, 21 years late

On the war on women front: Senate Armed Services Committee Votes to End Military Ban on Insurance Coverage of Abortion Care for Rape and Incest

The amendment was introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). In November 2011, anti-choice senators refused to allow the Shaheen amendment to come to the floor, so the 2012 NDAA was signed into law with the ban in place. Today’s vote affects the FY 2013 NDAA.

There are some 400,000 women in the United States Armed Forces; they and their families receive health care and insurance through the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. The department currently denies coverage for abortion care except when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Unlike other federal bans on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest.

Grrrrrgh…

As a result, those seeking safe abortion care after rape or incest must pay out-of-pocket for such care at a military facility. But because physicians on military bases are prohibited from providing abortion care, it is not actually available to military women in need even under the narrow conditions technically allowed. As a result, servicewomen are often forced to choose between taking leave and traveling far distances to an American provider, seeking services from a local, unfamiliar health care facility (if abortion is legal and they are not in a combat zone), having an unsafe procedure, or attempting to self-induce an abortion.

The Shaheen Amendment, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, would address one of these issues by bringing the military’s health insurance policy in line with the policy that governs other federal programs, such as Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program and as a result enable  servicewomen to receive insurance coverage for abortion care.

The amendment is strongly supported by military leaders, physicians, and servicewomen themselves.

“Women who put their lives on the line fighting for our freedom shouldn’t be denied reproductive health care services,” said Gale Pollock, Major General, US Army (Ret.).

Well, lets see what those Conservative Women do to support their fellow women…place your bets!

(And I said the rest of this post was going to be a link dump.)

Waterboarding got another pass this week, state secrets must be protected: A Court Covers Up – NYTimes.com

Secretary of State had some words about Iran: Clinton: Significant Differences Remain Over Iran’s Nuclear Program–  VOA

Some guy is taking the flea circus to another dimension, well it is actually not fleas, but ants. BBC News – Artist Ollie Palmer on staging an ‘ant ballet’

Some other guy in South Dakota is running for office, and his credentials are quite extensive: ‘I’ve Ridden An Ostrich. I’ve Done Lots Of Stuff.’: SD Congressional Candidate’s Amazingly Bizarre Campaign Ad | Mediaite

Jeff Barth’s ad:

…features Barth talking to the camera as he walks down a long path. The first thing you’ll notice is that the way the camera backs away from him makes the whole thing seem like the viewer is desperately trying to get out of a conversation with a crazy person. The second thing you’ll notice is that Barth has done a lot of weird stuff in his life. As he walks, he lists such accomplishments as having “learned chess in Iceland,” being in Germany to watch the Berlin Wall get built, and having daughters with “straight teeth and husbands.”

And lastly, remember that penguin that escaped from its cell? (No this is not a nun story.) BBC News – Tokyo keepers catch fugitive Penguin 337

Still from footage reportedly showing the one-year-old Humboldt penguin in Tokyo Bay. Photo: 7 May 2012
Penguin 337 spent several weeks swimming in rivers in the Tokyo Bay area

A young penguin which escaped from a Tokyo aquarium has been caught after more than two months on the loose in the Japanese capital.

The Humboldt penguin scaled a wall and slipped though a fence at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in March.

It has since been spotted several times swimming in a rivers running into Tokyo Bay, but had eluded keepers.

The one-year-old fugitive was finally recaptured on Thursday evening.

Two keepers went to a river after a sighting of the penguin was reported in the morning. They managed to catch it later that day on the river bank, a spokesman for Tokyo Sea Life Park told the BBC.

At least the little bugger is back safe. I don’t know about you, but I am curious…how the hell does a penguin scale a wall?

Please…can somebody explain that to me?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a great day. President Obama took a clear stance on a very important issue, saying that same sex couples should have the same marriage rights and privileges as every other American. But this really is not about marriage or about LGBT rights. It’s about equal rights for every citizen of this country. The President’s action is a big step in the right direction.

The New York Times has the behind the scenes skinny on how Obama decided to take his stand yesterday.

Before President Obama left the White House on Tuesday morning to fly to an event in Albany, several aides intercepted him in the Oval Office. Within minutes it was decided: the president would endorse same-sex marriage on Wednesday, completing a wrenching personal transformation on the issue.

As described by several aides, that quick decision and his subsequent announcement in a hastily scheduled network television interview were thrust on the White House by 48 hours of frenzied will-he-or-won’t-he speculation after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. all but forced the president’s hand by embracing the idea of same-sex unions in a Sunday talk show interview.

Obama had intended to state his position on the issue before this summer’s Democratic Convention, but Joe Biden’s statement of his support for same-sex marriage last weekend accelerated the decision-making process.

Initially Mr. Obama and his aides expected that the moment would be Monday, when the president was scheduled to be on “The View,” the ABC daytime talk show, which is popular with women….

Yet the pressure had become too great to wait until then, his aides told him; on Monday, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, was pummeled with questions from skeptical reporters about Mr. Obama’s stance. After the Tuesday morning meeting, Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director, contacted ABC and offered a wide-ranging interview with the president for the following day.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney announced that he continues to oppose same-sex marriage and he also opposes civil unions that resemble marriage. Appearing on a local Fox station in Colorado, Romney

“Well, when these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name,” Romney told KDVR. “My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate but that the others are not.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus responded to Obama’s announcement by suggesting that same-sex marriage would be an issue in the presidential race.

“While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear,” Priebus said. “We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that.”

IMO, it would be huge mistake for Romney to focus on social issues in the campaign, his campaign knows it. Just look what happened when Rick Santorum did it. But Romney should be forced to clarify his stance on this issue. Buzzfeed offered five questions to help him do so. Check it out.

Oddly, Log Cabin Republicans were enraged by President Obama’s announcement. Here is the press release the group released yesterday:

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

Addicting Info responded to the Log Cabin Republican release:

Here’s the official White House list of stuff the Obama administration has done for the LGBT community. It is not remotely comprehensive. Obama has done more for the LGBT community in three years than every single previous president combined. If that’s “manipulating” the LGBT community, what do the Log Cabin Dummies consider “full-throated support?” Should he divorce Michelle and marry Joe Biden?

As for the claim of “political gain;” what gain would that be? Will moderates suddenly sit up and say, “YES! The hell with the economy! I was only interested in gay rights!”? Will conservatives suddenly feel that their institutional bigotry is misplaced and they should embrace the LGBT community as fellow humans instead of condemning them to burn for eternity as “unnatural?” Will the GOP decide that perhaps gay-baiting is not the way to go and focus on the issues? Hell, gay Republicans can’t even muster any support for Obama. They’re outraged! They’re offended! Not at their own party whose official platform is virulently anti-gay but at that goddamned Obama for not supporting them sooner! Obama gets nothing from supporting gay marriage and only hands the right another cudgel to attack him with.

{{Loud, extended applause}}

Can you stand some more good news? Think Progress reports that on Tuesday,

Congress took up legislation that could significantly impact women’s health — and no, it doesn’t limit contraception or force anything into their vaginas.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act aims to protect pregnant women in the workplace from common discrimination — not being allowed to carry a water bottle, for example — that threatens their health and stops them from being productive employees, or from working altogether.

Introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA), the bill would “ensure that pregnant women are not forced out of jobs unnecessarily or denied reasonable job modifications that would allow them to continue working,”

The Republicans will fight it, and let’s hope lots of pregnant women hear about a new front in the War on Women and punish them in the voting booth.

And here’s just a little more good news from Reuters: U.S. drops plan to close rural post offices.

The U.S. Postal Service said on Wednesday that it is abandoning for now its plan to close thousands of post offices in rural locations and instead will shorten their hours of operation.

The change represents a victory for U.S. lawmakers and rural communities who created a backlash against the cash-strapped agency last summer when it began considering more than 3,600 post offices for closure this year.

Rather than shuttering offices starting next week, when a self-imposed moratorium on closings was set to end, the plan is to cut the operating hours of 13,000 locations with little traffic to between two and six hours a day.

It’s good news/bad news situation, with hours being cut at rural post offices; but it’s a step in the right direction.

And even more good news–can you believe it? The Justice Department announced yesterday that it plans to sue Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona for civil rights violations.

The U.S. Justice Department has been seeking an agreement requiring Arpaio’s office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and reach out to Latinos to assure them that the department is there to also protect them.

Arpaio has denied the racial profiling allegations and has claimed that allowing a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority.

Justice Department officials told a lawyer for Arpaio on April 3 that the lawman’s refusal of a court-appointed monitor was a deal-breaker that would end settlement negotiations and result in a federal lawsuit.

I hate to ruin the upbeat mood, but I felt I had to include this article from the BBC: ‘Vomiting and screaming’ in destroyed waterboarding tapes. It’s an interview with Jose Rodriguez, head of the CIA Counterterrorism Ceneter, and the man who destroyed the torture tapes. Read it if you can stand it. I think every American needs to know what was done in our name.

What are you reading and blogging about today?


Open Thread: Why oh why won’t Dick Cheney just go away?

I’m so sick and tired of seeing Dick Cheney on TV and listening to his beastly lectures about the efficacy of waterboarding and other forms of torture. Isn’t it bad enough that he hasn’t been tried and put in prison for war crimes? Why does the corporate media feel the need to inflict this dreadful excuse for a human being on us again and again and again?

I don’t care if he wrote a f**king book. Donald Rumsfeld wrote a book too, and we’re not seeing him on the tube morning, noon, and night. At least George W. Bush has had the grace to pretty much disappear from the public stage, but Cheney just won’t quit. He keeps popping up everywhere, flashing his ugly sneer and trying to justify the crimes he and other committed.

This morning on Candy Crowley’s show, Cheney had the nerve to complain because Obama isn’t using the term “war on terror.” He even demanded an apology for something Obama said in his Cairo speech back in 2009!

“When he goes to Cairo and in-effect says we walked away from ideals, we forgot our core principles and values on our (the Bush Administration’s) watch, that’s a big mistake.”

When Crowley asked if he wanted an apology from Obama, Cheney said, “I would. Not for me, but I think for the Bush Administration and that he misspoke when he gave that speech two years ago.”

Watch it:

Jeeze, Obama murdered Osama bin Laden, and he just murdered two American citizens. And that’s still not enough to satisfy Cheney’s bloodlust? Why oh why won’t he just go away and leave us alone?


vpResident Evil on Fox: Waterboarding “good policy”

Fox News has just posted RAW DATA: Transcript of Cheney on ‘FOX News Sunday’. I’m not a lawyer and I’m certainly no expert on national security. I try to keep to economics because I have training and expertise there. Some times, because I’ve been given front page privileges, I bring things up that I’ve read because they just shake me to my core. I really believe from the bottom of what I feel is right and wrong that the policies pushed on this country by Dick Cheney were beyond pale and the U.S Constitution. I’d like to compare Cheney’s thoughts to some other Americans who have known the privilege of serving the American public and taken oaths to uphold our Constitution. I consider these Americans to be the experts that I am not on matters of the U.S. Constitution and Liberty.

250px-Brandeisl

Here is a quote from a great American justice that encapsulates what I feel right now as I share the contents of that interview.

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal — well-meaning but without understanding.

Louis D. Brandeis

Then, there are these thoughts from two great Presidents and Statesmen.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Thomas Jeffersonjefferson

The history of liberty is the history of the limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. When we resist the concentration of power we are resisting the powers of death. Concentration of power precedes the destruction of human liberties.

Woodrow Wilson

Then, there is the granddaddy of all liberty quotes.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

Read the rest of this entry »


I read the news today, OH BOY!

If I was in need of a mini-vacation then I have to tell you that reading the latest Vanity Fair was not going to do it for me.  There were three articles that brought me down to earth with a thud!  One was the account by Christopher Hitchens who voluntarily underwent water boarding and concluded that it really is torture.  I think the most valuable quote I got from the article was bolded and oversized and said  “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”

Hitchens was one of the biggest drummers in the drumbeat to the Iraq War. This article is about four pages and has some very close up and big pictures showing the manner in which George Bush has defined the “American Way’ to the world.  You can also find a video of his experiences on youtube.  It is not for the faint of heart and I’ll let you google it.

The second article was a dissection of Hillary’s campaign.  This was a depressing walk down the first six months of  the year.  My favorite part of the article was this bit:

“The air began to go out of Barack Obama’s balloon on the night of March 13, when ABC News ran clips from inflammatory sermons by the pastor from an Afro-centric church in Chicago, in which Reverend Jeremiah Wright twisted “God Bless America’ into “God Damn America.”  Then on April 11, less than two weeks before the Pennsylvania vote, Penn read comments on the Huffington Post from a closed door speech Obama had given at a San Francisco fund-raiser.  He seized on Obama’s characterization of small-town, working class Pennsylvania voters as “bitter’ because of economic distress and disposed to cling to “guns or religion.”

This was the turning point that came a little too late for Hillary but still is turning on Barrack Obama.  Of course, after we were told that this was NOT the Jermiah Wright Obama knew, he moved on.  After the FISA vote today, I’m sure there are a lot of folks saying this is not the Obama they thought THEY knew.  Obama has now decided that granting Telecom companies immunity for conspiring to spy on American citizens is acceptable. Perhaps this version is not the IMMUNITY GRANT he once knew and swore he’d filibuster.  He voted for it. Hillary stood by her convictions and voted against it.

This came after a week of selling-out on so many issues so noticeably that we caught a rare morsel of the frustration of black activists on primetime with Jesse Jackson’s poignant but crude remark.  He wanted to “cut off Obama’s nuts” for “talking down to black people on morality” without mentioning the bigger issues of many young black men who grow up in neighborhoods filled with violence, horrid schools, and Mt. Everest-level unemployment rates. I’m pretty sure NARAL felt that way too when Obama implied that women will seek unnecessary third term abortions just because they feel a little ‘blue’.  However, nice ladies talk about removing men’s private parts away from live microphones

The final article was about the Bear Sterns bailout.  This was again pertinent since we’re now talking about multi-million dollar bailouts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Ben Bernanke has been on the stump for expanded regulatory powers of the Fed in the mortgage and mortgage derivatives markets.  Afterall, if they’re stuck with these nonperforming assets on the tax payer’s books, they might as well have the ability to stop these demons of greed before they strike again. This while more foreclosures are imminent and the illustrious Secretary of the Treasury says there’s no way to bail out the poor unfortunates stuck into risky mortgage vehicles because banks really wanted some high points.  This is going to be no solace to anyone shortly.  Even if you are making your mortgage payment, it only takes a few neighbors not paying to put your home’s equity on a downward spiral.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard NADA, zilch, ZIP, NOTHING about this big problem from either of the presidential candidates.  Probably because Obama’s finance committee and big donors are mostly the folks that created this problem and well, let’s face it, I’ve never met a Republican willing to go mano-y-mano with the American Banker’s Association.

All of this after I woke up to the news that Iran had just successfully tested a new long range missile capable of hitting Israel AND carrying a nuclear warhead.  Of course, the Russians and Chinese, those folks whose sudden turn to capitalism has made them friends of Dubya, had something to do with this.  As far as I can tell, once a totalitarian regime, ALWAYS a totalitarian regime. But you know, it’s more important that George gets to wave from the stands of the Olympic Opening ceremonies rather than stand for anything like, NOT throwing folks in prison for disagreeing with the government.  OH, right, I forgot, that’s what could happen with the FISA thing and Obama voted for it and McCain just didn’t think it significant enough to show up and do anything about.  Plus, Obama is just looking forward to getting elected so he can have a kumbayah moment with these guys. Yeah, that’s going to work real well.  Perhaps he can send Jesse and Jeremiah over there to soften them up a bit.

So, this is the best our democracy offers us–two men who have no compass to point out what is right or wrong.

Two men who will say and do anything to be president while the newspapers are filled with situations outlining serious problems that need solutions.  Next time I feel like a good summer read, I think I’ll find a good comic book.   Maybe I’ll look for some thing from Japan with one of those Ninja warriors that takes on all the injustices of the world and lives by the samauri code.  Maybe we can find one that will fight for truth, justice and the American way.