Monday Reads: In Other News

dancing-skeletonsHappy Halloween!

I thought I’d cover a few interesting stories in lieu of dragging too much of this crazy election into your feeds.  I thought I’d first focus on some interesting women’s news since we’re about to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling here in the USA.  Bill Moyers recommends this study by the VERA Justice Institute on Women and Jails in an era of reform.

Since 1970, there has been a nearly five-fold increase in the number of people in U.S. jails—the approximately 3,000 county or municipality-run detention facilities that primarily hold people arrested but not yet convicted of a crime. Despite recent scrutiny from policymakers and the public, one aspect of this growth has received little attention: the shocking rise in the number of women in jail.

Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Yet there is surprisingly little research on why so many more women wind up in jail today. This report examines what research does exist on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.

largeReuters reports that Abortion by prescription is now used as much as surgical prescriptions.  What does this mean to our right to privacy and protection of our constitutional right to decide for ourselves?

American women are ending pregnancies with medication almost as often as with surgery, marking a turning point for abortion in the United States, data reviewed by Reuters shows.

The watershed comes amid an overall decline in abortion, a choice that remains politically charged in the United States, sparking a fiery exchange in the final debate between presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

When the two medications used to induce abortion won U.S. approval 16 years ago, the method was expected to quickly overtake the surgical option, as it has in much of Europe. But U.S. abortion opponents persuaded lawmakers in many states to put restrictions on their use.

Although many limitations remain, innovative dispensing efforts in some states, restricted access to surgical abortions in others and greater awareness boosted medication abortions to 43 percent of pregnancy terminations at Planned Parenthood clinics, the nation’s single largest provider, in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2010, according to previously unreported figures from the nonprofit.

Jonathan Chait–writing for NYMag–begins the dissection of what this dose of authoritarianism we’ve seen this year means for the future of the GOP.

Approaching the 2016 election from this historical perspective, in which Trump’s every boast, tweet, and threat disappears into the ether, may at first blush sound like a relief. It is the opposite. Trump is an extreme event, but Trumpism is no fluke. Its weaknesses are fleeting, and its strengths likely to endure. Far from an organization that is “probably headed toward a civil war” — as the Washington Post recently put it, summing up a rapidly congealing consensus — the Republican Party is instead more unified than one might imagine, as well as more dangerous. The accommodations its leaders have made to their erratic and delirious nominee underscore a capacity to go further and lower to maintain their grip on power than anybody understood. More consequentially, the horrors Trump has unleashed are the product of tectonic forces in American politics. Trump has revealed the convergence of two movements more extreme than anything in the free world that may yet threaten the democratic character most Americans take as their birthright.

h8We’ve not only seen a pungent form of authoritarianism but we’ve also seen racism and misogyny on levels that are hard to take.  An autistic, black young teen accidentally veered off a race in NY and was treated to nightmare.

Chase Coleman, an autistic ninth-grader at Corcoran High School, was running in a cross country race in Rochester when a middle-aged stranger attacked him.

The man got out of his car, shoved Chase down in the road and yelled “get out of here” before driving off, according to witnesses.

A few days after the Oct. 14 incident, the nonverbal 15-year-old runner handed his uniform back to his coach and quit the team.

Now Chase’s mother, Clarise Coleman, wants to know why Rochester authorities refuse to press charges against the man who admitted pushing Chase.

She fears the answer is this: Chase is black and disabled, and his attacker was white.

Whatever the reason, 57-year-old Martin MacDonald of suburban Pittsford was not charged. Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison denied a requested arrest warrant charging MacDonald for second-degree harassment, despite Coleman’s desire to press charges.

The harassment charge is only a violation, with a maximum jail sentence of 15 days. But Coleman is outraged that authorities won’t seek at least that much justice for her son.

“If that man had been black and Chase had been white, and that (police) report went in, he’d have been in jail,” she said.

We’ve got our own Nightmare before Halloween here in Sabine Parish, Louisiana.  The KKK is actively getting out the vote.  This is from Lamar White, Jr. and his blog CenLamar.images

Shortly before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, members of the largest white supremacist hate group in the country, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, distributed small zip-locked packets on the windshields of vehicles parked along the sleepy streets and in the driveways of Many, Louisiana.

Many, the seat of Sabine Parish, is a tiny town of less than 3,000 residents tucked away in the farthest corner of West Central Louisiana, within shouting distance of the Texas border.

According to the most recent Census, the town’s racial demographics are split almost evenly: 48.18% white and 47.42% African-American, and their most famous hometown hero is Charlie Joiner, an African-American and a record-breaking NFL wide receiver who was inducted into pro-football’s Hall of Fame and who was once praised by Coach Bill Walsh as “the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known.”

Two days ago, members of a Ku Klux Klan organization (it’s not worth using the adjective “fringe,” because all KKK groups deliberately embrace their fringe identities) targeted Charlie Joiner’s hometown and, during the dead of the night, distributed these packets, according to multiple sources in Many and in the surrounding area:

Some highly inappropriate Halloween costumes have been rocking universities this weekend. An Arkansas college student was expelled over a black-face Bill Cosby costume.   Fans at a football game between Wisconsin and Nebraska used lynching to display their dislike of Clinton and the President Obama and support of Trump.  That was extremely appalling.

Wisconsin hosted Nebraska in Madison on Saturday night. In the stands at Camp Randall Stadium, one fan dressed in a Donald Trump mask, and that fan’s companion dressed in two masks: one for Hillary Clinton, one for President Obama.

The fan in the Trump mask appears to have depicted himself lynching his partner in the Obama and Clinton masks.

This election year seriously needs to be over ASAP.

Here’s some links for those of you interested in following the latest hooplah with the FBI and the bomb thrown by Senator Harry Reid yesterday.

From Politico: Poll: Comey’s bombshell changes few votes vintage-halloween-postcard-image-graphicsfairy

The race for the White House is tight, but it has not been radically changed by the FBI director’s bombshell announcement last week.  —  Hillary Clinton has a slim three-point lead over Donald Trump one week before Election Day …

From HillaryClinton.com:  An open letter from Former Prosecutors and other high ranking Justice officials.

It is out of our respect for such settled tenets of the United States Department of Justice that we are moved to express our concern with the recent letter issued by FBI Director James Comey to eight Congressional Committees.  Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him.  But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed. We cannot recall a prior instance where a senior Justice Department official—Republican or Democrat—has, on the eve of a major election, issued a public statement where the mere disclosure of information may impact the election’s outcome, yet the official acknowledges the information to be examined may not be significant or new.

Director Comey’s letter is inconsistent with prevailing Department policy, and it breaks with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.  Moreover, setting aside whether Director Comey’s original statements in July were warranted, by failing to responsibly supplement the public record with any substantive, explanatory information, his letter begs the question that further commentary was necessary.

From The Hill :  Reid: FBI has ‘explosive information’ about Trump, Russia

Harry Reid is alleging that the FBI has “explosive information” about a connection between Donald Trump  —  and the Russian government, suggesting that federal investigators have unveiled damning new information about the Republican presidential nominee.

I’m sure there’s a lot to be said still about all of this and the details coming out from the victim who alleges Trump raped her at 13.   

Remember, tis the season for Nasty women!  And Nasty women vote!!  Bad Hombres need to vote too!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Hatch Act, Hatchet Act, Hatching Act

img_1121 Let me start this post with this petition, I signed it way early this morning…like around 3am, at that time it was around 130 signatures.

Investigate James Comey for Hatch Act Violations | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

Demand James Comey immediately resign his position as director of the FBI. Immediately upon his departure launch an investigation of his public statements about the ongoing investigation relating to State Department handling of classified materials as blatant attempts to influence the election in violation of the Hatch Act.

img_1120It is currently at 684 signatures. Which is not very much, and that is rather surprising to me. what do you think?

Quick note, sorry this post is late. We went for a hike earlier today down the Appalachian Trail. It was beautiful, but man was it difficult for my fat ass to make it up those steep rocks. I will post some pictures at the end of the post…

Now, back to the thread.

According to CNN, these emails where in the hands of the FBI weeks ago. FBI discovered Clinton-related emails weeks ago – CNNPolitics.com

The discovery of a trove of emails from one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides occurred weeks ago, law enforcement officials told CNN.

img_1116But the FBI didn’t disclose the discovery until Friday, raising questions about why the information was kept under wraps and then released only days before the election.
The emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found on a computer belonging to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.
CNN reported on September 22 that prosecutors in Manhattan had issued a subpoena for Weiner’s communications as part of an investigation into alleged sexting with an underage girl.
FBI criminal investigators soon after stumbled on the Abedin emails.
By early October, it was clear to investigators that the emails may relate to the Clinton email server investigation, law enforcement officials said.
But internal discussions at the FBI about how to proceed continued over the ensuing weeks.
img_1123The delay was first reported by the Washington Post.
In his Friday letter to Congress, FBI Director James Comey said he was briefed on the new findings a day earlier. He didn’t say when he first learned of the existence of the emails.
FBI officials moved to disclose the development then because they feared the information would leak otherwise, law enforcement officials said.
Comey’s notification to Congress of the review is rocking the final days of the presidential race. Democrats are furious that Comey would revive the explosive issue of Clinton’s email server so close to the election. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is seizing on the review after spending weeks on the defense, hoping it will be a potent issue he can ride until the end of the contest.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta blasted Comey on Sunday for disclosing the review.
“He might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so close to the voting,” Podesta said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

It is also known that the FBI did not have a warrant for these emails.

What is even more disturbing is that one asshole in particular tweeted the letter before Democrats saw it….Senior Dem aide: Chaffetz tweeted Comey’s letter before Democrats even saw it – Shareblue

img_1125Now we learn that Democratic lawmakers may not have even seen the letter before Chaffetz, eager to influence the outcome of the election, tweeted it.

A senior Democratic congressional aide provided the following statement to Shareblue:

Democratic Ranking Members on the relevant committees didn’t receive Comey’s letter until after the Republican Chairmen. In fact, the Democratic Ranking Members didn’t receive it until after the the Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz, tweeted it out and made it public.

This is disturbing, but not surprising. During the Benghazi hearings, it become abundantly clear that Republican members were not seeking the truth but were cynically playing politics with the lives of dead Americans to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

img_1127The strange events of October 29 are further confirmation that Republican politicians like Chaffetz are using their office not to do the people’s business, but to target a single Democrat for destruction, using any means necessary.

They will fail, because voters see through their dirty tricks.

24 hours after Chaffetz pulled his stunt and Trump’s campaign jumped on the bandwagon, it has backfired. Clinton’s supporters are outraged and energized, more eager than ever to defend Clinton against these scurrilous attacks.

I hope the editors of ShareBlue are correct about this latest attack backfiring. The thought of a Trump presidency is too much for me to bear.

img_1130The rest of today’s links are varied. I will post them in link dump fashion:

Another major earthquake in Italy overnight:

‘There are no towns’: Most powerful earthquake for 36 years hits centre of Italy near Norcia | The Independent

Latest Italian earthquake devastates medieval churches and other sites – The Washington Post

A strong earthquake that shook Italy on Sunday morning took a heavy toll on historic churches and other landmark buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages.

No deaths were reported, and only “tens” of injuries, but the physical damage was extensive.

In Preci, the walls of a hillside cemetery came crashing down on top of the Abbey of Saint Euticius, founded in the 5th century by a group of Syrian monks and hermits and now crushed under the weight of its own burial ground.

img_1129The old town of Arquata del Tronto, in the central region of Le Marches, was virtually destroyed, along with its 13th century church dedicated to Saint Francis. Only the castle remains, still standing guard over the ruins below.

In Norcia, a city that considers itself the birthplace of pork sausages, three of the most important churches were heavily damaged.

Yes, you read that right…the birthplace of pork sausages.

Sunday’s quake was the strongest of a recent flurry of earthquakes. It registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and was felt the entire length of the Italian boot. It struck at 7:40 a.m. local time. The strongest hit areas were Le Marche and Umbria.

Even in Rome, more than 110 miles to the east, the papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was damaged. It shows some cracks on its facade, some cornices have crumbled, and a candelabra is at risk of dropping down from the ceiling.

img_1122Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed that Italy would rebuild the homes, churches and other damaged structures and that financial resources would be found to restore essential elements of the national identity and cultural heritage. “We will rebuild everything,” he said Sunday, “the houses, the churches, the shops. We are dealing with marvelous territories, territories of beauty.”

The number of human casualties could have been much greater, but residents of many of the historic town centers had been moved out when the tremors began last week.

This last bit is sad…look what happened to a rose window that was repaired just recently.

“In Italy we do not throw away the rubble,” said Fabio Carapezza-Guttuso, the Ministry of Culture’s national crisis management unit officer. “Even single stones are numbered and handpicked so that they can later be used in the reconstruction, along with pieces of wood, iron and beams. It’s a big effort, and that is why we employ archaeologists to sift through the ruins.”

img_1117Carapezza-Guttuso mentioned, as an example, the work done to restore the rose window of the church of Saint Augustine in Amatrice, which was badly damaged in a deadly earthquake in August. That window is now ready — but what remained of the church collapsed Sunday.

The latest in men’s birth control…halted, because the men can’t take the side effects.

Injectable birth control for men can prevent pregnancy – Study | TRT World That link will give you the particulars.

But as for the pussies who can’t take the pain…depression…or acne: Yes, contraceptives have side effects – and it’s time for men to put up with them too | The Independent

img_1124Apparently women can have such ailments as depression and acne thrust upon them for the greater good of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but the same level of discomfort cannot be expected of men

The finding that the latest version of the injected male contraceptive is now very effective is fantastic news. In a trial of 320 men, researchers found that, over a one-year period, it was 96 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy. A spokesperson for the World Health Organisation said: “The study found it is possible to have a hormonal contraceptive for men that reduces the risk of unplanned pregnancies in the partners of men who use it.”

But the trial of the drug has already been halted – because just 20 of the men (out of 320, don’t forget) found the side effects of the injection intolerable and it was decided that more research needed to be done to try and counteract them. Those side effects included depression, muscle pain, mood swings, acne and changes to the libido.

Do any of those side effects sound familiar? Oh yes, they’re the minor side effects of the combined pill, used by 48 per cent of women aged 16 to 19, 64 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 and a majority (55 per cent) of those aged between 25 and 29.

How sad for these poor men – they couldn’t handle the side effects that so many women have to deal with every day just to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Women have had to bear the responsibility of contraceptionsince the pill was first launched in 1962 – and all of the side effects that go along with it.

Men Quit Male Birth Control Study Because It Was Giving Them Mood Swings

As most anyone with a uterus can attest to, hormonal contraception can have some serious side effects, including nausea, headaches, weight gain, decreased libido, depression, and yes, mood swings.

img_1132Broadly reports on new research from the University of Edinburgh which suggests that men might also be able to effectively take hormonal birth control, meaning women wouldn’t solely have to suffer than burden. But before you throw a parade/throw out your pills, you should know that the study was stopped because men were experiencing side effects that many women using hormonal contraception currently experience.

Let us stick with periods for a bit…

Period pain is officially as bad as a heart attack – so why have doctors ignored it? The answer is simple | The Independent

Men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. For women, the wait is 65 minutes for the same symptoms. It’s thought that this is because women are seen as exaggerating pain and being ‘dramatic’ due to sexist stereotypes

John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, revealed this week that research shows period pain can be as “bad as having a heart attack”. He said: “Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine.”

img_1131Dr Imogen Shaw, a GP specialising in women’s healthcare, welcomed his comments, saying: “I wouldn’t say [period pain] has been hugely investigated,” and when asked if the issue would be taken more seriously if men experienced it, said: “I suspect there would be, being very cynical.”

It is extraordinary how little the medical profession engages with menstruation. Although recent years have seen period taboos broken through social media campaigns, this has yet to permeate medical discourse – and periods are seldom given serious medical consideration in research. Scant research has been conducted on specific pain prevention or pain relief and devices such as tampons, moon-cups and sanitary towels remain rudimentary.

It’s not only women’s period pain which is taken less seriously, either – ignoring women’s pain is a concerning practise across medicine. Recent research has shown that women’s pain is taken much less seriously by doctors generally.

img_1126And in other period news: Nepalese girls take photos of all the things they can’t touch during their periods due to menstrual taboos | The Independent

Stigma around menstruation in rural Nepal can result in poor-health and lack of education for women, but 7 girls from Sindhuli have fought back – with photography

[…]

“Being able to deal with periods in a hygienic and dignified way is crucial to women’s wellbeing. It helps women feel that they are able to play a full role in society, no matter what time of the month.”

nepal1.jpg
Sushma Diyali,15: “This is the picture of mirror and comb that I use at my house. In our society, when girls experience their first menstruation we are not allowed to look into mirrors or comb our hair.Me and my family do not follow such practice.  I think mirrors and combs are the means of cleanliness and as a human it’s very important that you should stay clean and healthy. Only if my friends just like me could grow in an environment where are no limitations regarding menstruation and receive more support from the families, they can set themselves free and explore greater potential and opportunities around them is what I think.” (WaterAid)

Just a few more links for you, they follow along…

The 18th-Century Devotional Painting that Documents a Brutal Mastectomy

On April 25, 1777, a Mexican woman underwent an operation to remove six tumors from her breast. She commissioned an artist to paint it.

img_1128These Women Born Before Suffrage Will Finally Vote For A Female President | Huffington Post  It is about damn time!

During The Trump-Clinton Election, An Exhibit Of Posters For Women’s Rights | The ARTery

“Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” the title of a poster exhibit at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, comes from a speech Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, then first lady of the United States, gave to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995.

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference,” Clinton said, “it is that human rights are women’s rights. And women’s rights are human rights.”

This should put thinks into perspective: Officer had a ‘rapability’ scale for female drivers, ex-cop says – The Washington Post

But back to other less disturbing things.

img_1119Brain scans can help predict whether depression patients will respond to medication

Fossilized Dinosaur Brain Discovered For First Time: Similar To Crocodiles And Birds : SCIENCE : Tech Times

The Myers-Briggs Types of 101 Famous Authors

For those of you who are not familiar with Myers-Briggs or the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), it is a personality profiling system based on Jung’s typological theory that was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. In the Myers-Briggs typology system, there are sixteen personality types consisting of four letters: E for extrovert or I for introvert, S for sensor or N for intuitive, T for thinker or F for feeler, and P for perceiver or J for judger. Psychologist David Keirsey later sorted these types into four temperaments. You can read more about Myers-Briggs here and find books about it here. Myers-Briggs typology can offer a lot of insight into how someone thinks, and in the case of an author, how someone writes.

Take a look at the breakdown at the link.

Still I’ve got more interesting articles for you.

Egg Horse

Egg Horse

‘Violence more common’ in Bible than Quran, text analysis reveals | The Independent

After The Maltese Falcon: how film noir took flight | Film | The Guardian

Ushering in an uneasy world of femmes fatales and shady sleuths, The Maltese Falcon marked the beginnings of film noir. Seventy-five years on, how can this genre speak to our times?

Fossilized Dinosaur Brain Discovered For First Time: Similar To Crocodiles And Birds : SCIENCE : Tech Times

 

 

Now, tell me…why would anyone buy this stuff: Soylent halts sales of its powder as customers keep getting sick – LA Times

Liquid meal maker Soylent is stopping sales of its flagship powder, warning that a handful of customers reported stomach sickness after consuming it.

Soylent had already halted shipments of its months-old nutrition bar because of customer complaints of diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomachs. In an announcement late Thursday, the Los Angeles company said there appears to be a common ingredient that’s causing trouble in the latest version of its nutritional powder and its snack bar. The products share several common ingredients, Soylent said, but the investigation isn’t complete.

Backed by more than $20 million in venture capital, Soylent has emerged as one of several popular start-ups hoping to change what and how people eat. Meant to be mixed with water or other liquids, the powder has enough fats, carbohydrates and other nutrients to replace a traditional meal, according to the company. People looking for a quick fix, such as software programmers in Silicon Valley, have become devotees.

Listen to me…Soylent Green is people!

Last link for the day, Why Does Fall Foliage Turn So Red and Fiery? It Depends. – The New York Times

Leaves scream their final cries in color before dropping to the ground. Their shouts — in golden, crimson or scarlet — eventually fade to brown bellows, and their lifeless bodies dry up on the forest floor. It absorbs their crinkly corpses and that’s it — worm food. The fall of a leaf in autumn is an orchestrated death. A complex, brilliant, beautiful death.

img_1193

Right now across the United States, fall foliage season is peaking, and everyone’s out to get a peep at the fiery show. Hiking trails are crowded. Mountain roads are packed, andleaf cams are getting lots of love. When you think of it as watching the death of leaves, it sounds morbid, but it’s captivating nonetheless. Does the way some turn red in the process serve any purpose?

Leaves actually start out yellow. Chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for giving leaves their green appearance and converting light to energy during photosynthesis, just overpowers it in the spring and summer. But when temperature, daylight and weather events like rain or drought cause leaves to die in the fall, chlorophyll breaks down and reveals the yellow or orange helper chemicals known as carotenes or carotenoids that were there all along.

img_1136

Red is another story, because it’s made on purpose. As some leaves die, they produce chemicals called anthocyanins (also found in the skin of grapes and apples) from built up sugars. These chemicals produce a red pigment that can combine with green pigments left from chlorophyll and display different shades of red.

How bright this red is depends on what species the leaf belongs to, its inherent genetics and the environment around it — including the forest, the tree, and individual leaves, said John Silander, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at The University of Connecticut.

Well, the leaves are not as brilliant as I have seen before here in Banjoville…but they sure are pretty. Take a look, this is at Cowrock Mountain on the Appalachian Trail.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: James Comey Must Resign

ap_james_comey_mm_160225_16x9_992

Good Morning!!

FBI Director James Comey, in the words of Lawrence Tribe, has “throw[n] a huge bomb at the election.” Hillary will still win, but Comey, with pressure from House Republicans and Donald Trump, may have negatively affected downticket races for Democrats.

As we all know, yesterday Comey sent a letter to GOP chairmen in Congress announcing that FBI investigators had found emails that could be “pertinent” to the Clinton server investigation. Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Messrs Chairmen:

In previous congressional testimony, l referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.

In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.
Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.

Sincerely yours,
James B. Comey
Director

Naturally, Rep. Jason Chaffetz immediately released the letter to the press, and hundreds of political reporters and cable talking heads went wild in a disgusting feeding frenzy, falsely reporting that the investigation into Clinton’s serve had been “reopened” even though Comey’s letter didn’t say any such thing.

2122015comey-blog480

Later in the day, Comey tried to cover his ass by sending a second letter to FBI employees. That letter was also obtained by The Washington Post. Here’s the text:

To all:

This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation.  Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.  Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Jim Comey

imrs

No kidding. The Justice Department, which is in charge of the FBI, has historically tried to avoid politicizing investigation, especially within at least 60 days of an election. But Comey already chose to politicize the Clinton investigation with his highly inappropriate press conference in July.  Following that clusterfuck, former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller strongly criticized Comney’s actions.

“It’s not just unusual, it’s unprecedented,” said Matthew Miller, who was director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder and now works at strategic advisory firm Vianovo. “He’s put himself into the middle of a political campaign in a way that will call into question the legitimacy of the office.”

“You’ll now have people in the middle of a campaign able to say, ‘Well, the FBI director said Hillary Clinton was careless,'” Miller added. “That’s not the FBI director’s job to do, and the rules are set up to prohibit that kind of behavior.”

As we all know, Comey was then pressured by Republicans to testify before Congress about his decision not to charge Clinton. After that he took the unprecedented step of publicly releasing the FBI’s notes of Clinton’s private interview about the server. Comey is apparently hoping to become J. Edgar Hoover 2.0 with his blatant abuse of power.

We now know that the emails were found on a laptop that Huma Abedin shared with her estranged husband and social media pervert Anthony Weiner. They were not sent or received by Clinton and very likely are simply copies of emails that the FBI has already examined.

gettyimages-186113956

This morning, Jane Mayer revealed that in his letter yesterday Comey went against the recommendation of Attorney General Lorretta Lynich–his boss: James Comey Broke with Loretta Lynch and Justice Department Tradition.

Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.

Comey’s decision is a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials. Comey, who is a Republican appointee of President Obama, has a reputation for integrity and independence, but his latest action is stirring an extraordinary level of concern among legal authorities, who see it as potentially affecting the outcome of the Presidential and congressional elections.

“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

Traditionally, the Justice Department has advised prosecutors and law enforcement to avoid any appearance of meddling in the outcome of elections, even if it means holding off on pressing cases. One former senior official recalled that Janet Reno, the Attorney General under Bill Clinton, “completely shut down” the prosecution of a politically sensitive criminal target prior to an election. “She was adamant—anything that could influence the election had to go dark,” the former official said.

Four years ago, then Attorney General Eric Holder formalized this practice in a memo to all Justice Department employees.

Not only that, but Comey’s announced resulted in a dramatic drop in the stock market. Once masssive FBI leaks clarified that Hillary Clinton likely didn’t send or receive any of the emails in question, the market began to rise again.

To top it all off, we have now learned that the FBI had the emails in question at least a month ago!

According to Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald, many in the FBI are angry at Comey.

And there’s this from Josh Marshall.

I don’t see how Comey recovers from this. He needs to resign, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan: Time for FBI director Comey to go.

Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the FBI’s investigation of “Crooked Hillary” and the presidential election itself were and are “rigged,” seems to have thrown FBI Director James Comey into a state of panic. In foolishly making a public announcement that the bureau is reviewing newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, he has inserted himself yet again into the presidential campaign.

The FBI virtually never announces the commencement or termination of ongoing criminal investigations or the discovery of new evidence. Such inquiries are often conducted in relative secrecy, enabling a more efficient investigation….

The old, sensible FBI rule book apparently has been thrown on the trash heap this year. While undoubtedly attempting to be open and “transparent,” to protect the reputation of the FBI, the FBI director has tossed a Molotov cocktail into the presidential race.

Voters must now be subjected to endless speculation in the press and explicit accusations from the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates that Hillary Clinton is a “criminal” aided and abetted by a rigged FBI and Justice Department. Comey’s “openness and transparency” will blow up in his face and further tarnish the FBI’s reputation. He has reinserted the Bureau into the political process.

More interesting reads on the Comey mess:

Politico: Comey’s disclosure shocks former prosecutors.

Greg Sargent: James Comey needs to clean up his mess. Here’s what we need to know.

LA Times: FBI says emails found in Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal may have links to Clinton probe.

Benjamin Wittes at the Lawfare blog: Memo to the Press: What Comey’s Letter Does and Doesn’t Mean.

Jamie Bouie: Why the “October Surprise” Is Dead

Kurt Eichenwald: Hillary Clinton’s Emails: The Real Reason the FBI is Reviewing More of Them.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think? What stories are you following today?

 


Friday Reads and a Penchant for the Macabre

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So, those of you that read my occasionally weirdish posts know that I have a thing for old grave yards and historical sites that are mysterious and ookie. There’s a distinctly granular feel to these places. It’s in the air and it’s in the dust that kicks up when you walk around. Bits and pieces of the past can be tangibly felt. I like the feel of the tingle and chill. I came to the realization that I love horror movies a little bit late in life but now I relish this time of year more than any.  Maybe it’s because I can feel the power surge of my inner crone. Maybe because I know that there is no dearth of places to indulge my need to feel creeped out by imaginary things.

I’m not alone in this fascination with how humanity deals with its mortality. Not by a long shot. Stories, art, and the entire religious thing have always dealt with such topics.  We created burial rituals and tools to cope with life and death early on.  October Horror movie binges just go right along with the roots and rites of our cave dwelling ancestors who lit fires and counted on the stars to help them.  My friend and fellow blogger Pete shared this link to Donald Fagan describing his early fascination with those black and white horror movies that rocked Saturday matinees back in the day of double features and bad special effects.  I thought I’d pass it on.

Fair Lawn, New Jersey, late ’50s. I must have been 9 or 10 when my Uncle Al surprised my cousin Jack and me by announcing his intention to take us to a midnight showing of Diabolique, the French thriller. The choice seemed odd, since Al, a burly luncheonette operator from Passaic, wasn’t the type you’d expect to harbor a taste for French cinema. Then again, it was no secret that an intermittently active strain of sadism ran in Al’s branch of the family. I guess he didn’t want to miss out on a rare opportunity to watch the kids squirm.

Shot in cadaverish black and white, Diabolique is about these two hot babes, the wife and mistress of a cruel boarding school headmaster, who conspire together to murder their tormentor. They drug him, drown him in the bathtub, and dump his body in the swimming pool. When the pool is drained, though, there’s no corpse to be found. The two women freak out for the rest of the movie. At the end, there’s a scene where the (supposedly) murdered headmaster inexplicably rises out of the bathtub with only the whites of his eyes showing. That’s when I started screaming. Jack, his body quaking from head to toe, slid off his seat and ended up on the sticky theater floor in tears. When we got home, Uncle Al, who’d had a merry old time, had to endure a tongue-lashing from my aunt for permanently damaging our heretofore immaculate sensibilities. We both had nightmares for weeks.

But movie terror is seriously addictive. As soon as we were sufficiently recovered, we started taking the bus to the HyWay Theater every Saturday afternoon to see the horror double feature. At 50 cents plus the price of the popcorn (or a bit more if you wanted a box of the race-regressive Chocolate Babies), it was a bargain.

I started out on the Addams Family and the Munsters and tamer fare.  But, TV in the 1960s and 70s also included its Friday night horror shows and that’s where I got exposed to the good stuff.  BTW, the “cool ghoul” has passed for any of you that might know the work of Joe Zacherle. Every big city had its horror host back in the day.

The great John Zacherle, known to generations of horror fans as Zacherley, “The Cool Ghoul,” has passed away at 98. The news came tonight as author Tom Weaver, a close friend of the Zacherle family, began informing colleagues of the the sad news, and an outpouring of tributes has already begun across the internet.

A veteran of World War II, Zacherle started working at WCAU in Philadelphia in 1954, and in 1957, he got the job of being Philly’s first late night horror movie host on Shock Theater, creating the character of Roland (pronounced Ro-LAND), who talked to his dead wife in her coffin. An association with Dick Clark, whose American Bandstand was based in Philadelphia, led to the recording of “Dinner With Drac” in 1958. He moved to New York’s WABC in ’59, became known as Zacherley and his show was renamed Zacherley At Large. He later hosted the Newark teenage dance show Disc-O-Teen, and was a DJ on WNEW and then WPLJ, where he stayed for ten years.

Considered by many to be the greatest TV horror host of all-time, Zacherele has spent the last several decades appearing on TV, radio, and film and making personal appearances at conventions and special events.

His horror-themed novelty records have remained perennial Halloween favorites, and you will surely hear them played on WFMU and elsewhere over the course of the next week. So, instead of posting those, I’ve decided to share the REAL DEAL, actual episodes of Shock Theater and Zacherley at Large as they were originally broadcast in the late 1950s. What we have here are three classic poverty row horrors: two Bela Lugosi features – The Devil Bat and Bowery At Midnight, and Rondo Hatton as The Creeper in The Brute Man. This is how original Monster Kids in the Northeast first saw these movies, and I’d recommend taking them all in for a great Halloween triple feature this weekend, just make sure you raise a glass of blood in honor of the Cool Ghoul himself before you’re done.  He gave his all!

 

annex-adams-julie-creature-from-the-black-lagoon_01Now, I’m totally enjoying SYFY channel that  really rocks October. My current favorites are ZNation and the ubercreepy Channel Zero.  I think what I like best about this season of the year as we head towards Halloween, the election, and my birthday is that movie horror can be so obviously campy and fun that it gives you a sense of control over the real nightmarish fiends and ghouls.  Of course, this is a Donald Trump reference.  It had to be.   Horror movies spin yarn and tales but not quite the way Trump does.

Donald Trump actually said this on the campaign trail late yesterday:

“What a difference this is. Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election, and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for?”

Whether or not Trump was joking, his supporters greeted that remark with lusty cheers. But here’s the thing: Even as Trump supporters continue to lap up his various suggestions that the only legitimate outcome of the election would be a Trump victory, the broader American public is completely rejecting the story he’s telling.

Indeed, there’s new evidence this morning that Trump’s ongoing effort to undermine faith in our democracy has been accompanied by a strengthening of confidence in it. And there’s also new evidence that majorities see Trump as fundamentally disrespectful of our democratic institutions.

The new Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump by four points nationally. (There may be a tightening, but that would not be surprising; it probably represents Republicans who had been alienated by the awful headlines about his sex tape and allegations of unwanted advances coming back to him).

Now that’s a suggestion that really should strike terror in the souls of all peace and democracy-loving people.  

I’m glad our national nightmare will soon be over but we should take nothing for granted.  First Lady Michelle Obama gave another inspirational and wonderful speech yesterday along side Secretary Hillary Clinton.  All of her words were wonderful but I really want folks to take this message to heart.

Because here’s where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us. It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her, and that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That’s the strategy, to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don’t want any part of it.

So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined, and you shouldn’t even bother making your voice heard.

They are trying to take away your hope. And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections, they’ve always decided, voters decided who wins and who loses, period, end of story.

(APPLAUSE)

And right now, thankfully folks are coming out in droves to vote early. It’s amazing to see. We are making our voices heard all across the country. Because when they go low…

AUDIENCE: We go high!

OBAMA: And we know that every vote matters. Every single vote. And if you have any doubt about that, consider this. Back in 2008, and I say this everywhere I go, Barack won North Carolina by about 14,000 votes.

(APPLAUSE)

Which sounds like a lot, but when you break the number down, the difference between winning and losing this state was a little over two votes per precinct.

See, I want you all to take that in. I know that there are people here who didn’t vote. Two votes. And people knew people who didn’t vote. Two votes. If just two or three folks per precinct had gone the other way, Barack would have lost that state and could have lost the election.

And let’s not forget back in 2012, Barack did actually lose this state by about 17 votes per precinct. 17. That is how presidential elections go. They are decided on a razor’s edge.

So each of you could swing. In this stadium, just think about it. Each of you could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary, just by getting yourselves, your friends and your family out to vote.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s me at St Louis #1 for a funeral a few months ago. See, I do actually live by some historically creepy cemeteries. We love and cherish them down here in Swampland.

The Season of Horror should end here in October except on my favorite TV days.  Let’s all get every one out to vote so we can look forward to a New Year and a New Day with Madam President.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Polls, Polls, Polls!

hillary-clinton-third-debate-fashion-ap-ftr

Good Morning!!

In just 12 days, the election will be over and Hillary will be on the way to becoming our first woman POTUS. I can’t wait to vote for her! And yes, I’m convinced she will win. Very soon, that glass ceiling is going to shatter into a million pieces, and Donald Trump will be headed for more embarrassing failures with ruined brand.

Huffington Post Associate Polling Editor Janie Valencia: The Polls — All Of Them — Show Hillary Clinton Leading. Which means Donald Trump is losing.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is either slightly ahead or way ahead of Republican Donald Trump with just 13 days until Election Day, according to new polls released Wednesday.

An AP-GFK poll shows Clinton leading by an astonishing 14 points, 51 percent to Trump’s 37 percent, in a four-way race. In a two-way heat, Clinton’s lead narrows to 13 points.

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A new Fox News poll finds Clinton ahead by a much smaller margin― just 3 points ahead in a four-way race, 44 percent to 41 percent. She also leads by 3 points head to head with Trump.

Other recent polls show Clinton with a lead ranging from 2 points to 12 points.

It’s best not to freak out just yet over which of Wednesday’s polls are right.http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/27/upshot/pennsylvania-poll.html?_r=0 Instead, consider the aggregate of recent polls for a more sober look at the race.

According to the HuffPost Pollster aggregate, Clinton is leading by about 7 points in the four-way race, 46.6 percent to 39 percent.

Here’s a new national poll, out this morning: Clinton nearly doubles lead over Trump in latest CNBC survey.

With only a dozen days to go before the election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has ratcheted up her lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump to 9 points, according to the latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey, nearly doubling her advantage from the last poll.

After weeks and months of what many Republican strategists called verbal and strategic missteps by Trump, and despite potentially ruinous revelations from leaked Clinton campaign emails, the Democrat leads the Republican nominee by 46 percent to 37 percent among registered voters in a two-way race and by the same margin among likely voters. In June, Clinton led by just 5 points.

The CNBC survey of 804 Americans around the country, including all age and income groups, was conducted by Hart Research Associates on the Democratic side and Public Opinion Strategies on the Republican side. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points, meaning Clinton’s lead could be as large as 16 points or as small as 2 points. It was conducted Oct. 21 to 24.

What about the big swing states?

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Nate Cohn at the NYT: Hillary Clinton Leads by 7 Points in Pennsylvania Poll.

If Donald J. Trump has a path to the presidency with big gains among white working-class voters, it has to run through Pennsylvania — a disproportionately white, blue-collar state with few Hispanic voters.

But a New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll released Thursday indicates that Pennsylvania remains out of reach for Mr. Trump.

Hillary Clinton leads him by seven percentage points, 46 percent to 39 percent, in a four-way race. And in a contest that could decide control of the Senate, the Republican senator Pat Toomey trails the Democratic challenger Katie McGinty by three points….

Mr. Trump’s message does seem to be playing well among the white working-class voters that Republicans have coveted for a decade. Over all, he leads among white voters without a college degree by a 17-point margin, 51 percent to 34 percent.

It’s better than Mitt Romney’s 12-point victory with that group in the state in 2012, according to Upshot estimates. Mr. Trump appears to be especially strong in northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area, where Mr. Trump leads by 16 points. Mr. Romney won the region by four points in 2012.

But these gains would not be sufficient for Mr. Trump to win the state, even if he matched Mr. Romney’s standing among other voters — something he is not pulling off.

Mr. Trump has the support of just 76 percent of Republican voters and trails among white voters with a college degree by nine points, 47 percent to 38 percent. He has nearly no support among black and other nonwhite voters.

Yesterday Bloomberg released a poll that showed Trump leading by 2 points in Florida, but that poll also showed Clinton getting only 51 percent of the Hispanic vote. I find that hard to believe and so does Latino Decisions.

Four other recent polls showed Clinton winning Florida, and a new one came out this morning: UNF Poll: Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in Florida.

Hillary Clinton is edging Donald Trump among Florida likely voters, according to a University of North Florida poll released Thursday, more good news for the former Secretary of State as Democrats are also cheering strong early-voting numbers across one of the nation’s most important swing states.

The poll of 836 likely voters, however, gives one down-ballot Republican good news of his own: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio leads U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy by a 6-point margin.

Clinton leads Trump by four points — 43 percent to 39 percent — which is just outside the poll’s 3.39 percent margin of error. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein garnered 6 percent and 3 percent support respectively….

“(I)n this election Democrats are outperforming their historical norms in absentee and early voting. If this trend continues through Election Day, Clinton could expand this margin and easily win Florida,” said Michael Binder, a UNF political science professor and director of the school’s Public Opinion Research Lab, which conducted the poll.

The survey was conducted Oct. 20-25.

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Hillary is going to win Pennsylvania and I think she will win Florida because of the Latino vote. Mainstream pollsters just don’t seem to understand how to poll Latinos. Here’s an interesting article on Latino voters at NBC News:

With early voting already underway in key battleground states, outreach and education organizations focused on the Latino community are responding to surveys of early voters with a mix of cautious optimism and concern over the disproportionate turnout numbers between states.

The National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials and conducted by the polling firm Latino Decisions conclude in a report that, “Latino voter contact rates in California, New York and Texas [are] much lower than in battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.”

With competitive states ripe for picking in a tumultuous Republican campaign headed by Donald Trump, Democrats and the Clinton camp appear to be focused on putting pressure on the GOP in Latino-heavy states that have the greatest potential for electoral gains.

The Clinton campaign sent Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton, and Michelle Obama to Arizona last week. Among their hopes were to mobilize the young Latino population.

Heavy investment in battleground states appears to be paying off in votes in Nevada, North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida.

With the Democratic Party practically conceding the election in Texas, state party officials continue to struggle with Latino turnout throughout the Lone Star State. The report finds that 70 percent of Latinos in Texas have yet to be contacted with just two weeks to go before Election Day.

I hope the Clinton campaign is paying attention. Check out this Texas poll: UT/TT Poll: In Texas, Trump holding narrow lead over Clinton.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a three-percentage-point lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton on the eve of early voting in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, had the support of 45 percent of likely Texas voters, compared with 42 percent for Clinton and Tim Kaine; 7 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and William Weld; and 2 percent for the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. The remaining 5 percent said they would vote for someone else for president and vice president.

“This is the trend that we’ve been seeing in polling for the last two weeks,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the UT/TT Poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

In spite of the closeness of the race and the margin of error, the number of polls showing similar distance between the candidates, with Trump in front, “is probably a telling us where this race really stands,” Henson said. Close, with a Trump lead, in other words.

The survey was in the field from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23; early voting in Texas began Oct. 24.

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CNN: Can Hillary Clinton win Texas? (Yes, Texas). She probably could, but I suppose it was smarter to focus her resources on other states she is more likely to win, like Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and even Arizona.

“I think this is the year Texas could have gone blue,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a political action committee aligned with Democrats. “But you don’t win a state like Texas unless there’s a real, aggressive and engaged campaign to win it.”

Still, many here believe Clinton could draw a greater share of the vote than even Obama did in 2008, when he won nearly 44% of the vote to Republican nominee John McCain’s 55.5%.
Looking to appear on offense, the Clinton campaign placed a six-figure ad buy in Texas this month highlighting the endorsement of her campaign by the Dallas Morning News — the first time the paper backed a Democrat since 1940. But the low-dollar investment in an exorbitantly expensive state was largely a symbolic gesture.
A strong Clinton showing on Nov. 8 “could reinforce the argument that Texas doesn’t have to wait for demographics,” Angle said. “One of the biggest myths about Texas is that Democrats always get stomped on here.” The reality, he said, “is just that we seldom have the resources to compete statewide.”

But what if pollsters are overlooking Latino votes?

If Texas doesn’t turn blue this year, maybe it will in 2020.

So . . . I thought I’d focus on the good polling news for Hillary in this post. I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread and I hope you will too!

 


Wednesday Reads: Are we there yet?

img_1030Hello…

Hey ho, just a couple of more weeks to go…

and now that the swinging dicks of DC have come to the conclusion that their rapey tangerine-tinted fascist is getting his bigly answer coming Nov. 8th…”WRONG” (Tradmark, haha)… it seems they are focusing their eye of Shitfire, I mean Sauron, on Hillary.

A few days ago, this came out of John McCain’s mouth:

An issue that has been mostly absent from this year’s Senate campaigns — the fate of the Supreme Court — suddenly erupted Monday after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., indicated during a talk-radio appearance that Republicans would move to block any high court nominee made by a President Hillary Clinton should the Democratic nominee win.

McCain made his remarks on WPHT-AM radio in Philadelphia, during an interview in support for fellow Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa.: “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” he said. “I promise you. This is where we need the majority, and Pat Toomey is probably as articulate and effective on the floor of the Senate as anyone I have encountered.”

img_1032Of course, he backed down later in the day…John McCain backs off promise Republicans would block Clinton Supreme Court nominees – Chicago Tribune

The remark immediately raised hackles of Democrats, who have complained about GOP treatment of President Obama‘s judicial nominees — most prominently, Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whose nomination has sat in limbo for more than six months after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., resolved to save the pending vacancy for the next president.

McCain’s comments raised the prospect that the vacancy could extend much longer than that, particularly if Republicans maintain their control of the Senate. Even if Democrats win the majority, they would still need a handful of GOP votes to confirm any Supreme Court nominee — current Senate rules require 60 senators to close debate and move to an up-or-down vote.

If Republicans were in fact “united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton . . . would put up,” that could mean the Supreme Court would remain an eight-member body indefinitely — and perhaps force a change to Senate rules allowing for simple-majority confirmation of Supreme Court nominees.

McCain’s office issued a statement Monday afternoon backing off his pledge of blanket opposition.

“Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees,” spokeswoman Rachel Dean said. “That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career.”

Y’all must keep in mind this swinging dick is facing some competition in his current run for the senate.

But this notion that the senate will block yet another president from nominating (yeah…not appointing ya Trump bastard) is something that makes me sick…in a pissy sort of way.

I mean like come on…

Wasn’t it enough that the GOP handed Trump his golden ticket as nominee of their fucking fucked up party?

If that wasn’t a pure example of the dysfunctional party’s complete lack of credibility, this latest Freudian slip is just the tip of what could become another political bed of impotent alpha males banging their chest while the people don’t get served.

img_1028Take a look at these words from Evan Culbertson, over at Paste Magazine: John McCain’s Supreme Court Obstructionism is Tantamount to Treason ::: Paste

It was less than two hours after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was reported in February that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began his crusade to prevent the appointment of his replacement on the Supreme Court. From the outset, McConnell’s insistence was that the next president—by the will of the American people—would have the privilege of selecting a new ninth Justice. This outstanding vacancy, as well as the potential for several other vacancies to open up over the next few years, has become a major issue in the presidential election. Meanwhile, President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, has languished in limbo awaiting a confirmation hearing.

This stall tactic was offensive enough, but all of the Senate Republicans’ bluster may have spun into something much more sinister. Last Monday, Senator John McCain made a bold and injurious claim: that the GOP “will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” In other words, McCain, McConnell, and Co. have changed their tune—President Obama’s “lame duck” nomination isn’t the problem at all; instead, they refuse to allow any nominee from a Democrat that will, as McCain put it, “change this country for decades.” And with most polls pointing to a likely Clinton presidency, Republicans appear to be scrambling to salvage any party unity they can from the scorched earth Donald Trump is leaving in his wake.

[…]

…McCain’s promise that Republicans would indefinitely blockade any SCOTUS nominations made by a President Clinton isn’t just irritating, it’s downright dangerous. If only Republicanpresidents get to select Supreme Court justices, then the implication here, of course, is that a Democratic president is not a legitimate president. And if you’re disquieted by that last sentence, you should be: It challenges the very fundamentals of our democracy.

[…]

The fact that McCain (a well-respected 30-year Senator who has formally unendorsed Trump for his behavior) is trying to undermine the authority of the President is far more terrifying. If we take McCain at his word, then the GOP’s new strategy appears to be dismantling the government from the inside out. Much has been made of the Senate’s refusal to hold hearings for Merrick Garland over the past seven months, but now, they’re actively refusing to do their jobs for another four-to-eight years.

As you could probably imagine, this is unprecedented: the longest vacancy in Supreme Court history came during the Tyler and Polk presidencies and lasted 841 days (or a little over two years, from April 1844 to August 1846). The longest in modern history was during the Nixon administration, and lasted “only” 391 days before Harry Blackmun was sworn in. McCain has now promised to leave the seat vacant for at least five years, and possibly longer, depending on the outcome of the 2020 election.

To be perfectly frank about it, this threat is tantamount to treason—Congressional Republicans are refusing to recognize the legitimacy of a democratically-elected President and crippling the effectiveness of the Judicial branch in the bargain. Imagine what could happen if, as many anticipate, two or three additional Justices retire in the next four-to-eight years. There seems to be no valid reason for Republicans to continuously refuse legitimate appointments made by a President Clinton, other than a purely selfish attempt to hold onto some semblance of power. Looking ahead in this scenario, if the Republicans do manage to win the Presidency in 2020 or later… why wouldn’t Democrats return the favor? It’s not that difficult to imagine the left retaliating with similar pettiness, leaving our country in perpetual constitutional crisis. Even if the scenario doesn’t end up being so grave, this effort will only serve to neuter the Supreme Court and diminish its authority, throwing our already-delicate legislative balance of powers into complete disarray.

img_1029All of this doomsday prophesying aside, the fact is that Congress has a constitutional obligation to maintain the Supreme Court, whether they like it or not. If Senate Republicans refuse to do the jobs for which they were elected, then not only are they stalling our nation’s progress—they’re delegitimizing the very Constitution that they’re sworn to uphold.

I can tell you, obstructionism from the GOP is treason in my opinion. That goes back to Grover Norquist (Remember that fuckwad?)… and further still to the meeting the GOP members had while Obama was being sworn in.

Well, fuck them. Those Fuckers!

Yeah, this is a fucking open thread…post whatever the fuck you want!

 


Tuesday Reads: RIP Bobby Vee and Tom Hayden

 

Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee

Good Afternoon!!

Two notable deaths hit home for me yesterday. One was 1960s activist Tom Hayden, and the other was one of my teen idols, singer Bobby Vee. I’ll start with him.

RIP Bobby Vee

I was in 6th grade on February 3, 1959, when three pop stars, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson died along with their pilot Roger Peterson in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. They were on their way to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Holly’s band members Waylon Jennings, Tommy Alsup, and Carl Bunch, stayed behind with their broken-down tour bus. The Big Bopper had the flu, so Jennings gave up his seat, and Richie Valens won a coin toss to get his. Years later, that tragic day became known as “the day the music died.” after the Don McLean song.

Moorhead is just across the river from Fargo, North Dakota, my birthplace. Bobby Veline (later Bobby Vee) was a 15-year-old rhythm guitar player from Fargo who had recently joined a garage band. The awful crash led to Veline’s big break. The call went out for local bands to fill in for the lost stars. From The Fargo Forum: How ‘The Day the Music Died’ launched Fargoan Bobby Vee into music stardom.

Fifteen-year-old Fargoan Bobby Vee and his new band The Shadows stepped up to fill the bill at the Moorhead Armory show. With that, the singer/guitarist took his first step into rock history….

Robert Thomas Velline was born April 30, 1943, to Sydney and Saima Velline of Fargo. Raised in a musical household, young Bobby followed suit and started playing saxophone at Central High School.

“I wanted to rock out. We were playing all the standard band pieces, but I wanted to play ‘Yakety Yak,'” Vee recalled on his website biography….

The shadows

The Shadows

When his older brother, guitarist Bill Velline, started playing with bassist Jim Stillman and drummer Bob Korum, Bobby begged to join, but they thought he was too young. He won them over with a velvety smooth voice. The group hadn’t played together much and didn’t have a name until just before taking the stage at the Moorhead Armory that fateful night.

“I remember being petrified when the curtains opened,” Vee told The Forum 19 years later. “I was blinded by the spotlight and just numb all over.”

The nerves didn’t last. That June he and The Shadows recorded “Suzie Baby” and the song was on the radio later that summer. Hits like “Devil or Angel” and “Rubber Ball” kept coming. In 1961 he would release his only No. 1 song, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” written by Carole King and Gerry Coffin. The follow-up, “Run to Him,” peaked at No. 2 and in 1962 he would reach No. 3 with “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.”

Velline’s band didn’t even have a name when they went on stage. The emcee asked him for a name, and he looked at his bandmates and saw their shadows in the spotlight; so he told the emcee their name was “The Shadows.” Afterward, an agent gave Velline his card and the rest was history.

When Bobby Vee’s hit song “Take Good Care of My Baby” (written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin) came out in July 1961. I bought the 45 rpm record and played it over an over again. When I found out that the singer came from Fargo, I became his number 1 fan. I bought all his albums for the next couple of years before I moved on to more sophisticated rock music.

In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Bobby Vee poses at the studio console at his family's Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph, Minn. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)

In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Bobby Vee poses at the studio console at his family’s Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph, Minn. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)

One thing I never knew until yesterday was the connection between Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan (then Bob Zimmerman). Dylan grew up in Duluth, Minnesota–not that far from Fargo, and Dylan’s first paying gig was as a member of The Shadows.

Despite the sad circumstances, the Shadows’ gig was considered a success, with Vee calling the Moorhead show “the start of a wonderful career.”

Vee and the Shadows soon recorded a regional hit with “Suzie Baby,” which resulted in Vee signing a record deal with Liberty Records. Minnesota native Bob Dylan, who called Vee in 2013 “the most meaningful person I’ve ever been onstage with,” would later cover “Suzie Baby” in concert [Vee was in the audience].

Dylan, who played in the Shadows with Vee in 1959, also praised the singer in his Chronicles, Volume One. Vee “had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell,” Dylan wrote. “I’d always thought of him as a brother.” Dylan briefly joined Vee’s backing band as a pianist after Vee’s brother brought Dylan, who called himself “Elston Gunnn,” in for an audition. “He was a funny little wiry kind of guy and he rocked pretty good,” Vee said.

More about Vee and Dylan’s connection from Heavy.com.

Dylan and Vee both “escaped” the Midwest, as Dylan wrote in Chronicles. Vee was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota. Vee was still playing in the region when his backing group, The Shadows, thought they needed a pianist. Dylan met Vee in a record store in Fargo and heard they wanted a piano player. He introduced himself as Elston Gunnn (with three n’s).

According to Expecting Rain, Vee told Goldmine in 1999 that Dylan claimed he just came off the road with Conway Twitty. They were impressed, but later learned that he could only play in the key of C. They hired him for $15 a night, but the job didn’t last long. As Vee explained:

It was ill-fated. I mean, it wasn’t gonna work. He didn’t have any money, and we didn’t have any money. The story is that I fired him, but that certainly wasn’t the case. If we could have put it together somehow, we sure would have. We wished we could have put it together. He left and went on to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

Years later, Vee and Dylan met in Greenwich Village.

Dylan was now a folk singer and Vee was a pop star. According to Vee, they met again in a record store.

“I was walking down the street. There was a record store there, and there was an album in the front window. And it said, ‘Bob Dylan.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Looks a lot like Elston Gunnn,’” Vee recalled.

In Chronicles, Dylan sounds like he regretted seeing Vee go from rockabily singer to pop star. He wrote that “Take Good Care of My Baby” was “as slick as ever.” Dylan wrote:

He’d become a crowd pleaser in the pop world. As for myself, I had nothing against pop songs, but the definition of pop was changing.

Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan in 2013

Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan in 2013

Despite their different career paths after that one meeting in Greenwich Village, Dylan said he still thought of Vee as a brother since they came from the same part of the country.

“I wouldn’t see Bobby Vee again for another thirty years, and though things would be a lot different, I’d always thought of his as a brother,” Dylan wrote in Chronicles. “Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room.”

Isn’t that great story? Vee died after a five-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The Associated Press: 

Vee was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, and performed his last show that year.

Vee had been in memory care at The Wellstead of Rogers & Diamondcrest in Rogers, about 25 miles northwest of Minneapolis, for the past 13 months and in hospice care in recent weeks, his son said.

Vee died peacefully surrounded by family, Velline said, calling it “the end of a long hard road.”
He said his father was “a person who brought joy all over the world. That was his job.”

RIP Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden led an amazing life. The New York Times obituary: Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76.

Tom Hayden, who burst out of the 1960s counterculture as a radical leader of America’s civil ri(ghts and antiwar movements, but rocked the boat more gently later in life with a progressive political agenda as an author and California state legislator, died on Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76….

During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Hayden was one of the nation’s most visible radicals. He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a peace activist who married Jane Fonda, went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam.

Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden

As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia. In his cell he began writing what became the Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of S.D.S. and the New Left that envisioned an alliance of college students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called repressive government, corporate greed and racism. Its aim was to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.

Like his allies the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who were assassinated in 1968, Mr. Hayden opposed violent protests but backed militant demonstrations, like the occupation of Columbia University campus buildings by students and the burning of draft cards. He also helped plan protests that, as it happened, turned into clashes with the Chicago police outside the Democratic convention.

Read the rest at the NYT link.

Tom Hayden, beaten by white segregationists in McComb, MS, October 1961

Tom Hayden, beaten by white segregationists in McComb, MS, October 1961

After the 1968 protests, Hayden stood trial in Federal court as one of the Chicago 7, along with Bobby Seale, Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, John Froines, and Lee Weiner, accused of conspiracy, inciting to riot and other charges. The Chicago Tribune:

With Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and other radical leaders, Hayden went on to plot the massive antiwar demonstrations that turned Chicago’s streets into a battleground for five days in August 1968.

“Let us make sure that if our blood flows, it flows all over the city,” he told throngs of young protesters in the city’s Grant Park on the day Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Confronted by Democratic Mayor Richard J. Daley’s 12,000 Chicago police in addition to 6,000 Army troops and 5,000 National Guardsmen, Hayden exhorted the demonstrators to “turn this overheated military machine against itself.”

After arrests and injuries ran well into the hundreds, Hayden and seven others were charged with conspiracy to incite violence. The Chicago Eight, as they were initially known, became the Chicago Seven when Black Panther leader Bobby Seale was separated from the case. Hayden was found guilty but the conviction was overturned in 1972 by an appeals court, which cited improper rulings by an antagonistic trial judge.

Hayden went on to become a traditional politician, serving as a California legislator. The LA times:  ‘The radical inside the system’: Tom Hayden, protester-turned-politician, dies at 76.

Hayden later married actress Jane Fonda, and the celebrity couple traveled the nation denouncing the war before forming a California political organization that backed scores of liberal candidates and ballot measures in the 1970s and ’80s, most notably Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure that requires signs in gas stations, bars and grocery stores that warn of cancer-causing chemicals.

Hayden lost campaigns for U.S. Senate, governor of California and mayor of Los Angeles. But he was elected to the California Assembly in 1982. He served a total of 18 years in the Assembly and state Senate.

During his tenure in the Legislature, representing the liberal Westside, Hayden relished being a thorn in the side of the powerful, including fellow Democrats he saw as too pliant to donors.

“He was the radical inside the system,” said Duane Peterson, a top Hayden advisor in Sacramento.

Defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial hold a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 5, 1970. Standing are, from left, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Abbie Hoffman. Seated are Rennie Davis, center, and David Dellinger. (Chicago Tribune)

Defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial hold a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 5, 1970. Standing are, from left, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Abbie Hoffman. Seated are Rennie Davis, center, and David Dellinger. (Chicago Tribune)

In April of this year, Hayden endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in a piece at The Nation: I Used to Support Bernie, but Then I Changed My Mind. Here’s what he had to say about Hillary:

Hillary is, well, Hillary. I remember seeing her on Yale’s green in 1969, wearing a black armband for peace while a kind of Armageddon shaped up during the Panther 21 trial and Cambodia invasion. Even then, she stood for working within the system rather than taking to the barricades. Similarly, in Chicago 1968, she observed the confrontations at a distance. If she had some sort of revolution in mind, it was evolutionary, step-by-step. In her earlier Wellesley commencement speech, she stated that the “prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living.” But from there it was a determined decades-long uphill climb through those same institutions that had disenchanted the young Hillary.

There are two Hillary Clintons. First, the early feminist, champion of children’s rights, and chair of the Children’s Defense Fund; and second, the Hillary who has grown more hawkish and prone to seeking “win-win” solutions with corporate America. When she seems to tack back towards her roots, it is usually in response to Bernie and new social movements. She hasn’t changed as much as the Democratic Party has, responding to new and resurgent movements demanding Wall Street reform, police and prison reform, immigrant rights and a $15-an-hour minimum wage, fair trade, action on climate change, LGBT rights, and more.

Hayden had grown more supportive of Hillary’s “evolutionary, step by step” approach and was concerned about Bernie’s all-or-nothing policies as well as his ability to deal with an all-out assault from the GOP and the media. In the end though, it came down to race.

I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason. It has to do with race. My life since 1960 has been committed to the causes of African Americans, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, and freedom struggles in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America. In the environmental movement I start from the premise of environmental justice for the poor and communities of color. My wife is a descendant of the Oglala Sioux, and my whole family is inter-racial.

What would cause me to turn my back on all those people who have shaped who I am? That would be a transgression on my personal code. I have been on too many freedom rides, too many marches, too many jail cells, and far too many gravesites to breach that trust. And I have been so tied to the women’s movement that I cannot imagine scoffing at the chance to vote for a woman president. When I understood that the overwhelming consensus from those communities was for Hillary—for instance the Congressional Black Caucus and Sacramento’s Latino caucus—that was the decisive factor for me. I am gratified with Bernie’s increasing support from these communities of color, though it has appeared to be too little and too late. Bernie’s campaign has had all the money in the world to invest in inner city organizing, starting 18 months ago. He chose to invest resources instead in white-majority regions at the expense of the Deep South and urban North.

I know there is much more news out there, and I hope I haven’t bored you by writing about two symbols of the greatest passions of my youth–Rock ‘n’ Roll and Politics. I’ll leave it to you to post more links on any topic in the comment thread below.