Tuesday Reads: GOP Wackos, Oliver Sacks, and Other News

Woman at the beach reading

Good Morning!!

Today is September 1, and Summer is almost over. How did it go by so quickly? Pretty soon the 2016 campaign will begin to heat up; but for now we are still in the silly season and Donald Trump is still grabbing all the headlines.

The Hill: Trump pledges to reverse Obama’s mountain renaming

Donald Trump promised Monday that he would return the name of North America’s largest mountain to Mount McKinley, undoing President Obama’s decision to call it Denali.

Calling Obama’s act a “great insult to Ohio,” Trump, who is running for president next year,tweeted late Monday that Obama reversed the name the peak had for more than 100 years, in honor of President William McKinley, an Ohio native.

Does Donald Trump even know anything about William McKinley? I doubt it. Why won’t this disgusting creep go away and leave us alone? John Kasich is upset too.

“You just don’t go and do something like that,” Kasich said, according to the Associated Press. “In Ohio, we felt it was appropriate. A guy saw that mountain when he was one of the first up there … named it after the president. No reason to change it.”

Um . . . no.

The mountain, in fact, got McKinley’s name before he was elected, and he never set foot inside Alaska.

Why Ohioans should have any say in the naming of a mountain in Alaska is a mystery. But the GOP candidates latch onto anything Obama does in order to get some media attention.

GOP Wackos

These days, when you see a crazy headline, you can be at least 99% sure that it involves a Republican politician.

Reading on the beach1

This headline from Local CBS5 in Arizona, for example: Matt Salmon facing parents’ anger over civics presentation to young kids.

GILBERT, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) – Several parents are demanding answers from Congressman Matt Salmon, saying they cannot believe what the lawmaker said to young school children during a visit to a Gilbert school.

“It should have probably just been a good civics lesson for kids who initially were excited to meet their congressman,” parent Scott Campbell said.

That excitement, however, turned into fear.

That fear, according to Campbell, was spawned by something Salmon said during a presentation he made Thursday about how bills become laws. The audience? Second- and third-graders at San Tan Charter School.

Campbell said the lesson took a dark turn when it came time to talk about vetoes.

“The congressman chose to give an example of the current situation in Iran, and made some inappropriate comments about ‘Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?'” Campbell said.

He and other parents were shocked. He said he had to console his young daughter.

“After school my daughter was very concerned and said to me she actually didn’t even know what suicide was and was very afraid,” he explained.

WTF?!! Where do the Republicans dig these people up?

man on beach

Meanwhile most Americans want their Congresspeople to approve the Obama administration’s Iran deal, according to The Hill:

According to the survey from the University of Maryland, 55 percent of respondents said that Congress should get behind the agreement, despite some concerns.

Twenty-three percent, meanwhile, said that lawmakers should instead ratchet up sanctions, and 14 percent wanted U.S. officials to go back to the negotiating table.

In a key stat for Democratic backers of the agreement, 61 percent of independents recommended that Congress approve the deal, along with 72 percent of Democrats.

Just 33 percent of Republicans expressed support, highlighting the partisan divide that has erupted over the agreement, which sets limits on Iran’s nuclear ability in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

The poll was conducted online, and the participants went through an in-depth process of listening to arguments from both sides. People were subjected to a detailed list of critiques of the agreement, followed by rebuttals to those arguments with reasons to get behind the deal.

Even the fact that 33 percent of GOP voters support the agreement is significant, considering their likely exposure to Fox News and talk radio.


Speaking of wacko Republicans, even after the Supreme Court told weirdo Kim Davis she can’t refuse to issue marriage license to gay couples, she’s still doing it. NBC News reports:

Defying the Supreme Court and invoking “God’s authority,” a Kentucky county clerk on Tuesday turned away two same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses — touching off dueling protests until sheriff’s deputies cleared the room.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, outside Lexington, has said that her personal religious objections preclude her from issuing the licenses.

The standoff came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case. That left in place a lower court ruling ordering Davis to issue marriage licenses.

Davis declined marriage licenses to two same-sex couples — two men and two women — who sought them at her office, in the small city of Morehead.

When is Kentucky going to get rid of this nutcase? She’s an embarrassment to her state and to all rational Americans.

RIP Oliver Sacks

Following the death of Oliver Sacks last week, I found myself browsing around looking for some of his writings on line. Sacks was a wonderful writer, and I’ve always enjoyed reading him. I haven’t read his book on hallucinations yet, and I think I’m going to get a copy and check it out. I have always been fascinated by altered states. Here are some links to essays by Sacks that you might want to check out if you haven’t read (or listened to) them already.

reading beach

In July, I wrote about my reaction to an NPR interview about face blindness, which Sacks suffered from. It was fascinating and led to my experiencing a very positive altered state–one of those “peak experiences” that Abraham Maslow wrote about. Check if out if you haven’t already.

Yesterday I read this piece on mystical experiences at the Atlantic: Seeing God in the Third Millennium. Sacks writes that when people have near death experiences, out of body experiences, and other altered states such as the auras that preceded epileptic seizures and migraines, the brain reflects the perceptions as if they are real. These often life-changing experiences have natural–not supernatural–causes, but they can have profound effects.

In 2012, Sacks wrote in The New Yorker about the history of mind altering drugs and his own experiments with them: Altered States: Self-experiments in chemistry.

From 1987, here’s an interview with Sacks on NPR’s Fresh Air: ‘Fresh Air’ at 20: Neurologist Oliver Sacks.

From Science of Us, a summary of a fascinating case study from The Lancet on which Sacks was one of the authors: The Strange Case of the Woman Haunted by Dragons. It’s about a woman who had altered perceptions of people’s faces–they looked “dragon-like.”


Two recent NYT articles by Sacks:

From February 2015, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.

From August 2015: Oliver Sacks: Sabbath.

One of my favorite Sacks stories appeared in the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. It was reprinted in the New York Review of Books in 1985: The President’s Speech. It’s about a group of aphasia patients and their reaction to seeing a Ronald Reagan speech on TV. Here’s the introduction:

What was going on? A roar of laughter from the aphasia ward, just as the President’s speech was starting, and the patients had all been so eager to hear the President speak.

There he was, the old charmer, the actor with his practiced rhetoric, his histrionics, his emotional appeal—and all the patients were convulsed with laughter. Well, not all: some looked bewildered, some looked outraged, one or two looked apprehensive, but most looked amused. The President is generally thought to be a moving speaker—but he was moving them, apparently, mainly to laughter. What could they be thinking? Were they failing to understand him? Or did they, perhaps, understand him all too well?

Read the rest at the link.


Finally, from today’s Washington Post: The tragic story of Oliver Sacks’s celibacy.

When Oliver Sacks was 18, he faced a prospect most young people dread: a belated talk about the birds and the bees with his dad.

“You don’t seem to have many girlfriends,” Sacks wrote his father said in his memoir, “On the Move,” released earlier this year. “Don’t you like girls? … Perhaps you prefer boys?”

Sacks didn’t try to hide.

“Yes I do – but it’s just a feeling – I have never ‘done’ anything,” Sacks told his father.

He pleaded with his father not to tell his mother – but his father did. The news did not go over well — to say the least.

“You are an abomination,” she said. “I wish you had never been born.”


How heartbreaking. Read more at the WaPo.

In The News, Links Only

The Guardian: Barack Obama in Alaska: global fight against climate change starts here.

Talking Points Memo: Trump’s Latino Bashing Risks GOP Senate Hopes In 3 Key States.

Pope Francis says priests can give absolution for “the sin of abortion.” From Time: What Pope Francis’ Abortion Announcement Really Means.

Jeb Bush tells the Pope how to do his job: Jeb Bush tells pope to focus on ‘mercy for the unborn’: Women should be ‘repentant’ for choosing abortion (Raw Story)

Jonathan Chait: Jeb Bush Responds to Insanely Racist Trump Ad by Calling Trump Liberal

Men on beach

The Nation: The Trailer for ‘Concussion’ Should Give Roger Goodell Night Sweats.

The National Memo: Hillary Clinton Supports Ban On ‘Revolving Door’ Corporate Bonuses

US News: Clinton, aides stressed need to protect sensitive State Department information in email.

AP via Seacoast online: NH Sen Jeanne Shaheen will endorse Hillary Clinton.

Raw Story: Texas man walks free after alleged rape leaves 2-year-old girl in pool of blood.

AP via ABC News: Investigators: Georgia Officer Likely Shot by Other Officers.

What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread.

23 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: GOP Wackos, Oliver Sacks, and Other News”

  1. janicen says:

    The Republicans completely blew the opportunity to look less effing crazy over the renaming of the mountain. They could easily have come out in support of the renaming and done no harm to themselves with their base because it’s such a tiny issue but it could have helped them with independents. To be honest, I was a little worried when Republican Lisa Murkowski supported the move even though it was her bill. I thought they just might come out of this looking a little mainstream. But they just can’t let go of the crazy, as evidenced by that sociopath congressperson scaring the school children. I agree with your point on that, bb: WTF?

    • dakinikat says:

      There’s no way, any more, they could appear to be any less than effing crazy. They’ve purged the folks that weren’t crazy a long time ago.

  2. janicen says:

    Someone sent me an interesting article about Cheney’s Iran Ideas with regard to the deal…


    • gregoryp says:

      I got 3 or 4 paragraphs into that and then stopped reading. For Cheney, Bush, The Neocons and the Republicans black is white and white is black. Up is down and down is up. Everything is backwards with these people and their only solution to every problem is violence and killing. At some point the rest of the world is going to have to band together and isolate us. All we seem to bring to other countries anymore is pain, misery and war when with our power and wealth we could be doing great, great things to help those who aren’t as fortunate. Death, destruction and fear are no way to run a country and international relations. I can’t seem to figure out exactly what these guys malfunctions are unless it is just greed run amok.

  3. TheRealKim says:

    Once again, may the lord have mercy upon us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless our hearts. I mean really, WTF?!?!? It’s just too insane out there for words. Yesterday I read “The Great Unraveling” at Truthdig by Chris Hedges. Everyone should read this article. I would put the link in, but am on my phone and don’t have a clue how to copy it.

  4. TheRealKim says:

    The article was to good not to share. Here’s the link: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_great_unraveling_20150830

    • gregoryp says:

      Well, the prose is good. The man can definitely write in a very eloquent manner. While I may agree with some of his points he didn’t back anything up. Not one thing. It is just basically assertions and allegations. It is just not how I was taught to write. You want to tell me that Hillary is a corporate shill. Fine. Provide examples of why or how. You want to say that Neoliberalism is the cause of every world ill. Fine. I can buy some of that. Just provide me with some evidence.

  5. Fannie says:

    I listened to Cheney all of one minute yesterday, and couldn’t watch another second. I read the 2 year rape, and couldn’t read another second.

    I just can’t deal with it.

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    I couldn’t get past Hedges calling Hillary a dishonest, corporate stooge.
    No thanks.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hedges is more unrealistic than the “neoliberals” he rages against. I’d like to see his evidence that Hillary is a “corporate stooge.” I don’t think it exists. Nevertheless, his evaluation of Trump is sound, IMO.

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    Kanye West for president? Why not?

    If Donald Trump can lead in the polls for GOP candidate “normal requirements” are up for grabs.

    Ben Carson? He who has declared there is “no war on women” but “on their insides”
    is crawling behind – or is somehow “even” with the Donald – from those voters who have left their commonsense behind.

    Mr. Trump can say or do just about anything and does so without any compunction that he will suffer the consequences. He says nothing but you can count on him to “dirty up”his opponents which elicits applause as he rages on and on like a schoolyard bully citing personal information to deflect from his own inability to “discuss” issues in a manner expected of a presidential candidate.

    Dr. Carson has shown just how nuts he is! Another climate change denier which suits the simpletons who support these idiots without a clue to what they actually stand for.

    All we need to know about Trump can be summed up in his suggesting to appoint Sarah Palin to some position in a Trump government. That in itself says it all. Is this what a possible Trump administration looks like? A bunch of Know Nothings milling around who have no idea of how government works or what is needed to “make America great again!”?

    Good grief, we get a daily “drip, drip, drip” of Hillary’s e-mails which so far have added up to a whole bunch of nothing yet these clowns are treated as if their serious insanity is acceptable to the nation at large. It isn’t.

    Donald Trump? Puleezze! Kim Kardashian as “First Lady” makes as much sense!

  8. dakinikat says:

    Judge mad at bigot who won’t do her government judge and ignores the criminal justice system and the Constitution…


  9. Beata says:

    Andy Borowitz: “Cutting Losses, Kochs to Sell Scott Walker”


  10. janicen says:

    This is an awesome story. In Columbia, MO, some business owners managed to gerrymander themselves a district to such an extent that they, the business owners would be the only ones able to vote in a sales tax increase since there are no actual residents in the district. Except they fucked up. There is one college student registered to vote in the district which makes her the sole voter to decide whether or not to impose the sales tax increase. They actually tried to convince her to unregister.