Sunday Reads: “Passing prejudice off as faith” and other thoughts from the “internets” and shi…stuff.

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Good Morning

Hey….
Since When Did Scapegoating and Taking Revenge Become American and Christian Principles?

I know I am beating a dead horse here, albeit a corn-fed…free-range horse at that…but this piece from David Mochel at HuffPo is coming from the direction I have been speaking of the past few weeks.

2b18613ea30f9abdce2951f8a69a7680I do not consider myself religious in any traditional sense, nor would I say that I am deeply patriotic, but I am tired of “American” and “Christian” being used as descriptors of what is happening in the popular discourse.

I am tired of letting the loudest among us be those who call for un-American behavior in the name of patriotism. I am tired of letting the dialogue be monopolized by those who pass off prejudice as faith. Compassion matters. Dignity matters. Exercising self-discipline when we are scared and angry matters.

Human beings are biological creatures with lots of biological impulses. But we also have the capacity to see beyond our temporary urges for violence and oppression. We have the ability to anchor ourselves in, and act out of, enduring and inspiring principles. If we do not use the wisdom we have access to, then what exactly makes us human?

75df5a8d5388d6bd7bae07c2e3bb48ecThis feels like a moment in time when we are collectively trying to decide how to move forward. In the face of terrorist attacks, racial tension and conflicting world views, where shall we go for guidance? Shall we just go with what we feel and call it what we want? Shall we lash out and call it Christian? Shall we segregate and call it American? Or shall we consult some principles that were written down precisely so that we would remember them in times such as these?

The second paragraph of the Declaration of the Independence begins with these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

3096f48b0de03236fc30f4b81af29d8fThe Constitution of the United States begins with these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

A plaque mounted on the base of the Statue of Liberty carries these lines from a poem by Emma Lazarus:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

3df58d98847161880eae5fa7149a5ffcEvery morning my son stands up in his public high school classroom and recites The Pledge of Allegiance, which ends with the words: “with liberty and justice for all.”

He also goes on to quote from the prayer of St. Francis and New Testament, only to ask…

 

What am I missing? Where is written that we should block access, imprison, blame and malign those who we do not understand, who look different, or who live outside our borders? Does being American or Christian represent any fundamental principles or are these nothing more than titles that we get simply by living in this country and going to a fancy building on Sunday?

9e9ca4589d8015fc89e2db0e4aaa7196I propose that these words which are thrown around quite a lot lately actually do stand for something. I propose that the privileges of living in this country come with the responsibilities of being inclusive, of speaking for those without a voice and representing the rights of those who are denied access. I propose that the privileges of being Christian come with the responsibilities of showing compassion and generosity for those in need and mercy toward those who have offended.

Uncertainty can trigger anxiety and self-defensiveness. We can respond by being reactionary, rigid, and exclusive. But this is not our only choice. We also have the choice of compassion, inclusivity, and peaceful resistance.

Of course, it is challenging to make this choice in the face of senseless violence and vehement disagreement. Standing for something worthwhile is rarely easy.

No it isn’t easy, and to quote someone who seems a bit strange to quote in this discussion…as “Dubya” said so often, “It’s hard work!”

I will get to the Planned Parenthood Shooting in a few moments, but in response to the link above, remember, these people are fleeing…the murder and terror. They are refugees.  Six children drown as refugee boats sink off Turkey – Al Jazeera English

More than 4,700 people arrived on the Greek islands on average each day in November [AP Photo/Santi Palacios]

More than 4,700 people arrived on the Greek islands on average each day in November [AP Photo/Santi Palacios]

At least six children have drowned in two separate incidents when boats carrying refugees to Greece sank off Turkey’s coast, Turkish state media has said.

6d5154d04575aed9d535859e56a409f3A vessel carrying 55 Syrians and Afghans capsized due to bad weather off the town of Ayvacik, a main crossing point for refugees trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, the Anatolia news agency reported on Friday.

Turkish coastguards have so far recovered the bodies of four Afghan children, it added.

Two more children, two sisters aged four and one, drowned early on Friday when their wooden boat carrying some 20 people to the island of Kos sank because of heavy rains and stormy weather, the agency said.

577f306ac5690aaaf6476588ce2c0978Turkey, which is hosting 2.2 million refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, has become the main transit point for people fleeing war.

The European Union and Turkey have agreed in principle to a refugee action plan, which is expected to be finalised at a summit on Sunday.

 

I will put up some links in the comments on the details of this summit, but take a look at that link for a little info on it, there is also more discussion here:

EU, Turkey driving hard bargain before migration summit | Reuters

2693ddb551921f78845472c5bc6902f1Turkey and the EU: Old Routine and New Tensions – Carnegie Europe – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Our View: Cyprus will not be able to call the shots in Brussels – Cyprus Mail Cyprus Mail

And two links from Irish Times:

EU-Turkey summit aims to tackle refugee crisis

Give Me a Crash Course In . . . Turkish-Russian-Syrian relations

For a video look into the refugee experience via Al Jazeera English: Why on earth would anyone do this?

Follow the journeys of three refugees who are risking everything in hopes of reaching Europe.

 

Why on earth would anyone do this 2

Why on earth would anyone do this

 

That title alone is sufficient enough to give you a picture of what the video is about.

Meanwhile back in the United States:

The question of Life is back in the news…

I think it must be said again:

 

Life begins at arousal!!!!

And to hell with fluoridation in water systems!

Who needs the “guvment” anyway?

d3367e609123f3ae4ccaaae429496f64As of Saturday evening: 2016 Republican Contenders Silent On Planned Parenthood Shooting

Republican presidential hopefuls were noticeably silent about a fatal shooting that took place at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

All three of their Democratic counterparts tweeted in support of the organization during and after Friday’s attack, which left three people dead and nine others injured.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the only one of the major GOP candidates to comment:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul instead tweeted about his own Black Friday sales:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush published an opinion piece about Obama’s foreign policy:

Donald Trump spent the evening (and Saturday morning) touting upcoming campaign eventsand complaining about a New York Times reporter.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted about his campaign’s new cold-weather gear:

Ben Carson was off Twitter and in Jordan visiting a refugee camp.

b9a6174d5a66c20ed7efd16f0dec9f36All of the major 2016 Republican hopefuls describe themselves as anti-abortion. Some, like Paul, Rubio and Cruz, have attempted to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood, citing heavily edited videos that emerged earlier this year claiming to show the nonprofit’s employees selling fetal tissue for profit. A congressional inquiry into the videos did not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, Rubio wondered why more Americans don’t get “fired up” about Planned Parenthood’s “dead babies.”

Ted Cruz breaks silence on ‘horrific’ Planned Parenthood attack | US news | The Guardian

3019096934_1123b97702_mSpeaking in Lamoni, Iowa, Cruz said that while the motives behind Friday’s attack were not clear “it was unacceptable, horrific and wrong”.

“We know that police officers and civilians have been targeted and lost their lives and our prayers are right now are with the families,” Cruz said.

Many of the party’s candidates have come out strongly against Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail as they seek to secure conservative votes.

 

2a0a3941b8ebf09d849bbed81b380f90No More Mister Nice Blog: REPUBLICANS HATE WHAT THEY HATE MUCH MORE THAN THEY LOVE WHAT THEY LOVE

Republican presidential candidates still haven’t said anything about the Colorado Planned Parenthood shootings, with the exception of Ted Cruz (in a tweet, as I noted in my last post) and now John Kasich:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the other GOP contender to discuss the attacks, offering his prayers for the affected families and saying “senseless violence has brought tragedy to Colorado Springs.”

This seems odd:

Republicans hate abortion and hate Planned Parenthood. They hate gun control, and 1e961bd32d777bfe32c762742f555dddthe shooting has already led to another call for new gun laws by President Obama. These hatreds are much more important to the right than love of the police, even when the dead police officer was also a Christian minister. In this case, blue lives don’t matter, and this wasn’t part of the war on Christianity. The killer wasn’t a member of any group conservatives hate, and his main target was a group conservatives absolutely hate.

So hate wins. Therefore, the right is never going to denounce this incident with any enthusiasm.

The Democrats did tweet there thoughts: 2016 Democrats React To Planned Parenthood Shooting

As usual, Hillary is on top of it…check out the time of her post.

121ae2a4c88a6961f479940c0ec9312bI wonder…what was tweeted after the news of this: Man Kills Waffle House Worker Over Smoking Ban, Cops Say

Johnny Max Mount, 45, was allegedly smoking in a Biloxi Waffle House when the 52-year-old employee  asked him to put it out, according to the Sun Herald. Mount is accused of refusing and instead removing a 9mm handgun hidden under his shirt, WMC reports. Police allege he shot the woman, who has not yet been identified, once in the head early Friday morning. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

8f5d58501d1f843f6451038c11deb647Mount was arrested for first degree murder, and is in jail on 2 million bond.

Back to the Planned Parenthood Shooting:

Siege highlights security used in abortion clinics | Tampa Bay Times

‘No More Baby Parts’: Shooter’s Words Prove Right-Wing Rhetoric Incited PP Attack « Addicting Info

Investigators: Shooter ‘politically motivated’ – Business Insider

c03f6957ed6c26c4c8318078b48cf218Colorado shooting suspect said ‘no more baby parts’: reports | Reuters

TBogg at Raw Story: Domestic terrorism and the evil that men do

at happened at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on the Friday after Thanksgiving was inevitable. After the deceptively-named Center for Medical Progress released the equally deceptively-edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal parts, someone had to die in the end.

75fc5c8507449411816e44cc7869b9c0Of all the phony attacks and accusations made against Planned Parenthood by a new generation of anti-choice activists like James O’ Keefe and Lila Grace Rose, the videos created by former O’Keefe confederate David Daleiden raised the bar — or lowered it depending on how you view them — on over the top accusations intended to fire up Christian conservatives and embolden lawmakers to do all they can to destroy Planned Parenthood.

Images of fetal tissue being sorted by technicians became a bloody flag to be waved by people who seem to believe that medical procedures are magically free of the kind of things most people are unfamiliar with because they’re not medical professionals who are undeterred by the sight of body fluids, viscera and bones. Those who view abortions as a repellent medical procedure became even more appalled by seeing people who deal with such matters on a daily basis act like … people who deal with such matters on a daily basis.

17af87ffde3b553d168bad4876b9875cWhere Daleiden really hit one out of the park for the anti-choice crowd was when he accused Planned Parenthood of selling  fetal tissue — used by researchers looking for cures for Alzheimer’s, among other things — and making a profit off of it.

Which turned out to be a lie.

[…]

On a certain level — with the aid of the media which uncritically ran with his narrative — Daleiden was more than modestly successful. Republican lawmakers in conservative states were able to cut some funding for Planned Parenthood, while GOP presidential candidates had yet something else to grandstand about in order to woo the evangelical base.

772e93db60bfcf3f0c3812cd8e804d9eWith so much heat thrown off by Daleiden’s anti-abortion project, it is no surprise — and it absolutely cannot be to him — that someone somewhere would take his lies to the extreme and try and do something about it. With extreme prejudice.

According to NBC, Robert Lewis Dear — who killed three people including a cop,making him a hero to these “pro-life” folks while shooting up a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood — reportedly told investigators “no more baby parts” after he was arrested.

As they say: Who could have predicted that?

f46f1001c2cec742b81a2cefa9e1ff92There is nothing anyone here can say, we all saw this shit coming.

To all appearances, Dear appears to be either mentally unstable or an anti-social kook who, despite a history of run-ins with the law including domestic violence, was able to easily obtain a gun or guns. For that you can thank the NRA later.

There is no indication that Dear was or is religious, but a predisposition to being either anti-choice or anti-woman certainly was a factor.

Unlike Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller in a Wichita church,  one needn’t act as the hand of God taking holy vengeance to “save the children.” You just need a motive –imagined or not — to pull the trigger.

5c0659ab4b11f48c781ac85dcc5cf4bfSo it appears that Robert Lewis Dear shot up a Planned Parenthood because he was familiar with David Daleiden’s videotape lies. This is not to say that this is something that Daleiden was hoping for. But when Daleiden published his videos with great fanfare, he primed more than a few future domestic terrorists to take the law — God’s or their own — into their own hands.

David Dalieden didn’t pull the trigger — he just showed Robert Lewis Dear where he needed to aim the gun.

Robert Dear, Suspect in Colorado Killings, ‘Preferred to Be Left Alone’ – The New York Times

Robert L. Dear Jr. was a man who lived off the grid.

On this lonely, snow-covered patch of land in a hamlet ringed by the Rocky Mountains, his home was a white trailer, with a forest-green four-wheeler by the front door and a modest black cross painted on one end.

cfe66a0bf34a92bc0c0905f6a7bb5070As police officers surrounded it on Saturday, looking for clues to what they said had sent its owner on a rampage at a Planned Parenthood center that left three dead and nine wounded, neighbors said they barely knew him, beyond one man’s memory of his handing out anti-Obama political pamphlets.

Van Wands, 58, whose wife owns a local saloon, said there were two types of people in the area: the old-timers who put in time getting to know their neighbors, and newcomers who wished to be left alone. Mr. Dear, he said, fell solidly into the second category.

That article has lots of background on Dear…

In Black Mountain, N.C., Mr. Dear had lived in a small yellow house reachable only after miles of driving on mountain roads and, ultimately, along an unpaved and winding street. Two sticks, forming a cross, were attached to a padlocked shed that was filled with bedding, gas canisters and worn boxes of beer. He bought it without running water.

More at the link.

f563b1171ef0965bc107324d96f0721dAs Dak said yesterday in the comment section of Boston Boomer’s post:

Colorado Springs, Site Of Planned Parenthood Attack, Is A Hub For Conservative Christians

Cannonfire-A brief discourse on faulty logic — or: Meet the Fukers!

The right-wing media has spent years demonizing Planned Parenthood, one of the most useful and virtuous institutions in this country. A white maniac from a Deep Red state shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic, and what happens? The right-wing press instantly politicizes the situation, while simultaneously accusing the left of politicizing.

During Shooting, GOP Congressman Says He Expects Apology From Planned Parenthood | Mediaite

It was while that siege was still going on, though, that Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger decided to take to CNN’s air and demand an apology from Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, if the perpetrator turned out not to be an anti-abortion terrorist:

“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that.”

dfbae64991e62cffaaad0639ece12f6aThat was at about 6 pm, while there was still gunfire being reported at the scene. There is a long history of terrorism against Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers in this country, but the statement Kinzinger is referencing actually points out that the motive is as yet unknown, and yet is still true no matter what this shooter’s mysterious motive turns out to be. Here’sthat statement in full:

Statement from Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains:

“Our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragic situation. Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record. We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”

27a35e9d55c06abb17ce8c40fc281a6cAs with every tragedy, there will be lots of virtual ink devoted to chronicling the many stupid, crass, offensive things that people did and said as this tragedy was unfolding, but this one deserves a special mention, and here’s why.

Kinzinger, a “pro-life” Republican, has demanded an apology from Planned Parenthood if it turns outthat the women’s health organization was not the target of this apparent terrorist murderer. Therefore, if by some magical confluence of events it turns out that Planned Parenthood was the target, then Planned Parenthood does not owe Kinzinger an apology. Kinzinger has conditionally accepted the blame for this violence on behalf of the unhinged anti-abortion right. If he’s allowed back on CNN after that, it should be to ask him if he’s ready to apologize to Planned Parenthood.

The response: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Gets Shredded On Facebook After Planned Parenthood Shooting Comments (IMAGES) «

This past week, my cousin David visited us…he meets with the head Bishop of the Florida Archdiocese tomorrow…and finds out in January if he has been accepted into the seminary to become a priest. He mentioned the Pope calling this mess of a world…World War III in “piecemeal”.

10e935dadb4f9173b2552dde7d8c1dcfTake a look at these:

Pope Francis warns on ‘piecemeal World War III’ – BBC News – 13 September 2014

Pope Francis warns ‘piecemeal’ World War III has begun-NBC.news- Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 | 7:06 AM ET

Because according to CNN: How is this not World War III? – CNN.com-Updated 3:16 PM ET, Wed November 25, 2015

…it’s getting hard to avoid analogies to World War I — strange bedfellows, conflicting agendas, alliances of convenience

Remember this…because in a related op/ed on CNN: No, it’s not ‘World War 3’ – CNN.com-Updated 9:03 AM ET, Tue November 17, 2015

Note the dates on those links.

f7361e12c660e21636bf2a0f312bdce8Okay, this is getting long, even for a Sunday Reads. So the rest of the links are in Dump Fashion.

Donald Trump Rally Features Circus Elephant Owned by Man Who Was Repeatedly Arrested for Animal Cruelty

Ben Carson, visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan, says he ‘saw pain on faces’ – LA Times

‘Brave? Really?’: Demonstrators blast armed bigots who surrounded peaceful Muslims at mosque last week

Mom Refuses To Let A Gay Man Teach Her Kids – His Response Is LEGENDARY (IMAGE) «

Burger King manager says police erased video of Chicago shooting | Tampa Bay Times

Russian lawmaker killed by husband detonating hand grenade – NY Daily News

The jealous husband of a young Russian lawmaker killed himself and his wife after detonating a hand grenade as he forced her to have sex in the backseat of their car Thursday, according to local reports.

Dammit, that is, ugh…no words, but there are some assholes out there think there is no way to force sex when you are married to the woman. I wonder what that person feels about hand grenade murder/suicide? (Although I am sure because the woman was very modern and working as a law maker…he would find some way to justify it…to far? Possibly.)

But let’s move on to the poor, another one of said asshole’s champions: It’s simply harder to eat well when you are poor | Barbara Ellen | Comment is free | The Guardian

You can read about the austerity factor at the link.

211418a075d1476b943bd0bf8f0b9698

 

 

And we will end it with history:

82cf6368771c62cb7aa5be2cac89bbe3From Raiders to Traders: The Viking-Arab Trade Exchange

The Viking raids across Europe brought them into contact with other cultures, including Muslim Arabs. Although there are no known Viking settlements in the Arab lands, both cultures interacted with each other through their respective exploration of Europe. Contact between Vikings and Arabs occurred mainly in the area of what would become Russia. While there is scarce evidence that Arabs visited the homelands of the Vikings, or as they called them, the “people of the North,” artifacts found across Scandinavia, and especially in Sweden, point to an extensive long-distance trade exchange between the two very different cultures. It was the promise of access to much needed and coveted silver that set off the Viking exploration into Europe, and brought Viking raiders into contact with the Arabs. In their quest for silver, the Vikings discovered and accessed valuable trade routes to Constantinople that led to an extensive trade exchange with the Arab world. Seizing upon the opportunity to enrich themselves, the Vikings came into contact with Arabic wealth and treasures through their raids, and soon realized the potential of a peaceful trade exchange.

19a4e7cf3b864df543233ebe6a67d2adThe Vikings came into contact with Muslim Arabs during their exploration of the Iberian Peninsula. One of the first contacts occurred with Muslim Spain in 844 when a Viking fleet of fifty-four ships sailed from their base in Brittany to Spain in order to raid the Caliphate’s treasures. The raiding campaign was successful, as the Vikings conquered Lisbon and Seville, destroyed numerous other towns, and even threatened the capital of al-Andalus, Córdoba. However, the Muslims were able to drive back the Viking invaders and built “an effective coastal defence against new attacks.” Having seen the riches of the Caliphate, the Vikings were determined to return, and embarked on a second raiding campaign in 859, this time with a much bigger fleet of sixty-two ships. Again, the raiding campaign itself was a success, as their ships were “so fully laden with plunder that they sat low in the water.”

652593b4fe316bcc785a984e4640fcc8However, on the Vikings’ journey back to their home base in Brittany, the Muslim naval fleet attacked and destroyed the majority of the Vikings’ ships. With that, Viking exploration of and interaction with Muslim Spain ended. The two raids gave both cultures a first glimpse at each other’s military capabilities and characteristics. Prior to the Vikings’ invasion of the Caliphate, the Arabs had no interaction with the “people of the North.” To the Muslim Arabs, the Vikings appeared “as a sudden, mysterious, military threat.” The Vikings for the first time were confronted with an enemy that was well organized on land as well as on the sea, where Vikings were used to supremacy.

Click here to read this article from Saber and Scroll

Well, what are you all up to today? I will post those updates on the EU/Turkey Refugee Agreement below as they become available.

Refugee images from Pinterest: J.J. Lopez Minkoff on Pinterest

Otherwise, please post some of your thoughts today.


Wednesday Reads: It is good cape weather.

bc11b47e8b2200ba279ed5f1976e1d45

 

Good Early Afternoon

I found that image on Facebook. I got the idea for the capes from a friend of mine who is doing a pimp thing for Halloween…at least I think that was the look he was going for. Anyway, he said he thought capes were cool and that they should come back into style. Which made me think of the Seinfeld episode…about the man in the cape.

3529961534_3d95176a1b

 

 

Yeah it is good cape weather, don’t ya think?

c086c928d81a54062ed749fe9abf06ce

 

Anyway, here are the other quick scenes that go with this episode:

 

 

frank-costanza-3

 

 

 

Then of course I got sucked into the youtube vortex and found this nugget of clips. The best of Frank:

 

54854d75216976847002b772851fded2

Tell that to Bobby Colby….all that kid wanted to do was go home…well he went home alright….with a crater in his colon the size of a cutlet.

Alright then, enough of the fun stuff. Let’s get down to the shitty gritty.

c7ff49fe7fe434bfc6a2453ba9b2ecd8As you read these articles remember this:

The numbers are staggering: US is ‘world leader’ in child poverty

That is from back in April of this year…Don’t forget the mortality rate in newborns either:

U.S. infant mortality rate worse than other countries – CBS News

That link is from a year ago…

The point I am trying to make is, there is a GOP debate tonight…cough, cough…

What’s at stake for tonight’s GOP debate?

I doubt very seriously the candidates will be asked pointed questions about their party’s compliance and cause of the figures above. But what the fuck right? As long as this shit continues:

dab7e0891b3ce4f6fb310b55a509dee9How the f*** did we get here?! Why Trump & Carson have demolished all comers—and why you should keep an eye on Rubio & Cruz – Salon.com

That is Digby at Salon.

Not sure you saw this…but I think it may have been posted earlier in the week here on the blog…anyway, back to the shit talking from Slate, Monday this week:

Joe Cannon: Cannonfire

I have to quote the whole post, sorry Joseph…but if I were to write my own response to that shit said, it would sound like a Samuel L Jackson monologue. (Which is not to say I haven’t done anything like that before on the blog, but with my dysfunctional brain at the moment…I don’t think I can give my rant the kind of linguistic attention it deserves…)

63f8b0ea02f1b2c5a3e0383b01a39f19The turning of the worm, the eating of the crow (redux)

Attention, irony fans! Dig:

Clinton is framing Sanders as a sexist who accuses women of shouting when they try to speak up. It’s a lie. She’s manipulating women and abusing feminist anger for her own advantage.

It’s great that we’re more aware of bigotry than we used to be. But we should also beware false claims of bigotry: the race card, the sex card, the homophobia card. In 1991, Clarence Thomas, a well-connected federal judge, evaded sexual harassment allegations and won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court by accusing his interrogators of a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, says anyone who advocates a boycott of his country “should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” Sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism are real. But sometimes they’re fabricated.

606a8f815bf99c35aafd931873e39a33For more from that Slate shit, we go back to the William Saletan article:

That’s what Clinton is doing. She’s misrepresenting an exchange that took place at the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate. During the exchange, Clinton accused Sanders of voting with the gun lobby. Sanders replied: “All the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence.” Sanders argued that people on both sides of the gun debate should agree to “strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole,” “deal with the straw-man purchasing issue,” and “address the issue of mental health.”

b271a48fb9fe1521ea6063076bec7735The man standing to Clinton’s left during this exchange, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, joined in the attack on Sanders. To this, the Vermont senator answered with the same message: “Here is the point, governor. We can raise our voices. But I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not. Our job is to bring people together around strong, common-sense gun legislation.”

Two days after the debate, Clinton brought up the exchange during a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. She promised to stand up to the gun lobby and, dropping her G’s, added: “I’ve been told by some to quit talkin’ about this, to quit shoutin’ about this. Well, I’ll tell you right now, I will not be silenced, and we will not be silenced.” The crowd loved it. The next day in New Hampshire, Clinton tried the same line in a Yankee-friendly accent: “Some people say that we shouldn’t talk about it. Some say we shouldn’t shout about it, that I shouldn’t shout about it. Well, I think we have to keep talking. But more importantly, we have to act.”

014ca0c1a6507444546648b899843859A week went by. Clinton prepared for her Oct. 22 testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. When she returned to the campaign trail on Oct. 23, in a speech to the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum, her account of the exchange with Sanders was no longer just about guns. It was about sexism. “You know,” she began—clearing her throat to signal the sound bite ahead—“I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.” The audience hooted, screamed, and cheered. Clinton grinned. “I will not be silenced, because we will not be silenced,” she declared.

dfc024ea42346fe1d37e2d23c8c144d5It goes on that the Clinton campaign then proceeded to adopt a new catch-phrase/slogan: “When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”…Maybe the “shouting should be changed to “shrill?”
Again from the Slate piece,

On social media, Clinton’s campaign made the new line—“When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”— her message of the day. Her team posted it on her Twitter feed at 8:30 Friday morning, two hours before her speech to the DNC forum, as a rebuke to “those who tell her to ‘stop shouting’ on issues that matter.” Superheroes who are window washers at a children's hospital in Pittsburgh.The quote also went up on her Facebook page and her campaign website, under the headline, “Hillary Clinton Just Said Something Women Have Been Thinking for Years.” The next day, at a Democratic dinner in Iowa, Clinton repeated the applause line: “I’ve been told to stop shouting about ending gun violence. Well, I haven’t been shouting. But sometimes, when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting. But I won’t be silenced, and I hope you won’t be either.”

Clinton doesn’t use Sanders’ name when she tells this story. She doesn’t have to: Everyone who saw the debate or heard about it knows she’s talking about him. She’s using the story to bond with women, to paint Sanders as a patronizing old fart, and to portray herself as a victim.

7b93313acd70651890f18f7e1844f7e5Let’s be clear: This isn’t what happened. During the debate exchange, Sanders answered O’Malley with the same point about “raising our voices.” Sanders has been giving this answer for years. He did it in July, after an O’Malley super PAC ad attacked him (“We have been yelling and screaming at each other about guns for decades,” said Sanders). He did it again in August, after a male surrogate for Clinton attacked him (“I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other”). He did it again in October, after the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon (“People on both sides of this issue cannot simply continue shouting at each other”). Sanders gives this answer to everyone.

e451c87c71dd3eff2124d312d8345b2aThe charitable explanation of Clinton’s behavior is that she sincerely perceived Sanders’ rebuke during the debate as sexist. But if that were true, you’d expect her to have said so in her first accounts of the exchange. She didn’t. She waited more than a week before embellishing the story. She prepared it as a sound bite for social media, and she unveiled it at a women’s forum. And it worked, so she’s still using it.

Enough. Sanders’ record as a feminist is as good as Clinton’s. No honest reading of his career or his comments about guns can construe him as a sexist. Clinton is trying to connect with women who have felt bullied by men, and to turn them against Sanders, by smearing him. And what’s true of racism and anti-Semitism is just as true of sexism: The more seriously you take the real thing, the more you should revile people who use it as a fraud.

Uh, Fuck You William Saletan.

dea95ff9bec0d9ad92f1256fc9ff7452Okay, back now to Joseph. Like I said above, my response would not be so coherent.

My (sic Cannon’s) response: 2008.

Remember?

Remember when anyone who called Obama a progressive poseur was considered an unhooded Klansman?

Remember when I was called a “racist” every minute of every hour of every day for weeks simply because I pointed out that Obama had lied about his opposition to NAFTA?

8da9e32d15b429480830e29b33b89c31Remember when I was considered kin to George Wallace simply because I dared to mention the easily-proved fact that Obama did not denounce the Iraq invasion during his 2004 convention speech (or at any other time during his senate campaign)?

Remember the death threats against Hillary published on Democratic web sites like Daily Kos?

5dec80adb212cb2edc44e83eb07cc5b9Remember how every sentence, word and phoneme uttered by the Clintons was hyper-parsed and subjected to bizarre interpretations in order to prove that they hated all black people? (As if anyone could withstand that kind of attack. Using the same smarmy tactic, I could prove that you are a racist, whoever you might be.)

Remember that shit?

I’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget either…those smarmy muthafuckaz. On that note. Something funny, because some of the other links are really depressing.

 

Oh my gawd…Dubya is Ricky Bobby!

af360befa72972ef674d75483af9bc0eChristian marriage adviser: Use ‘fear and dread’ to control your wife — as God intended

Responding to comments from a men’s rights activist on a posting about finding enjoyment in sex with a wife who grudgingly agrees, the host of a website providing tips on proper Biblical “gender roles” agreed that keeping a woman in a constant state of fear is an appropriate way to control her actions.

Pointing to a column he wrote on “Female dread,” Rollo Tomassi explained that Christian men go about seeking sex with women all wrong by trying to “diffuse sexual anxiety and tension.” Instead, Tomassi said husbands should make their wives “unintentionally uncomfortable” in order to achieve “the rough, hard-core, make-up sex you never thought you’d have.”

Larry Solomon of Biblical Gender Roles agreed enthusiastically — albeit from a biblical perspective —  writing: “So should a wife Biblically speaking have a little healthy fear or dread of her husband? Absolutely!”93ce6e2944cfcf98ebb8db9ea556e0f2

According to Solomon — who agreed with Tomassi’s distaste for feminism — the Bible says that women should submit to their husbands “’as unto the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:22)”

Solomon lamented the fact that he believes that most Christian husbands fear their wives.

“Men show their wives they are either afraid to lose them (be alone) or afraid of the prospect of divorce and the financial or child custody repercussions that it may bring, ” he wrote.

edb882611e39ad24d1b2b918add92712Solomon suggested that Christian husbands should use what he calls the “there’s the door” method.

“So when a woman acts out in rebellion toward her husband and tries to act as if she does not need her husband or that other men would treat her better the Christian husband should tell his wife “there’s the door”.  Will some women be foolish enough to walk out that door? Yes, ” he wrote. ” But the moment a man allows his wife to put him in a position of fearing her, rather than her fearing him the relationship has just changed from the design God intended it to be.”

Solomon added that there is a limit to what a husband needs to provide for his wife and that the minimums  should be withdrawn if she gets out of line.

49420e1b5590397d5f9090c7b8bd03b6“While we are required to know our wives and talk to them, that does not mean we need to spend every bit of our free time in conversation with them. We do not need to hang on every word our wife says. While we are required to give them food, clothing and shelter – that food does not have be the fancy food she wants, that clothing does not have to be the fancy clothing she wants and that house does not have to be the fancy house she wants,” he wrote, before adding that one night of wild sex is insufficient.

“I don’t just mean she just rocks his world one night, and then he lavishes her with all these things.  No – she sees that in order to get ‘some’ of her wants met she must FIRST reverence her husband outside the bedroom and she must ravish him inside the bedroom and this becomes the pattern of her behavior toward her husband, He explained. ” If either the reverence or ravishing goes down, he pulls back on these other things so she understands the correlation.”

7a5fef36edeb98080c53039f2649c85eUgh…fuck you Solomon and Tomassi and the rest of these assholes.

Patriarch of Duggar-like family with 19 kids and reality show accused of sexual misconduct cover-up – No surprise there.

No More Mister Nice Blog: KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT GOP CRAZIES WILL CALM DOWN ANY DAY NOW

Hobby Lobby investigated for trying to import ancient artifacts from Iraq | US news | The Guardian

Customs agents seized thousands of years-old tablets imported by owners of the Christian chain of craft stores and intended for the $800m Museum of the Bible

d838490526f858ec1e2b760a239087bcFox News Turns To A Panel Of Men To Debate Whether Women Should Be Allowed To Wear Leggings | Video | Media Matters for America

Fox & Friends continued their history of on-air sexism when they turned to a panel of men to literally judge whether three women were appropriately wearing leggings. Fox News’ flagship morning show has a long history of promoting sexism on-air, whether it’s co-host Brian Kilmeade introducing his female colleagues by stating, “Let’s see if the girls have clothes on,” or spending 13 minutes questioning women’s driving abilities. To be fair, the network’s programming overall isn’t much betterFox & Friends‘ overt sexism reached a new level during its October 27 edition in which a panel of three men were asked to judge the appropriateness of three women’s appearances. Co-host Steve Doocy started things off by asking panelist Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty, “Are you comfortable with the women in your life parading in public in leggings?” Throughout the segment the panelists weighed in on each outfit, with Robertson quipping, 3abf4570fac084261f713e5ac6385851“I’d like a photo” of one of the models, and Fox’s Arthur Aidala saying of another model’s “physique,” “God bless you, you’ve worked out, you’ve earned that.” Aidala then joked, “We all took nitroglycerin pills before she came on, just to make sure.” To conclude the panel discussion, Doocy speculated that, “I don’t think anybody is in too much trouble,” with Aidala agreeing, “No, I think we made it.” From the October 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

Fox’s Kilmeade Blames Student Thrown To The Ground By Officer: “Have Some Respect For Your Teachers” | Video | Media Matters for America

In related news: Sheriff to Decide Fate of Deputy in Classroom Arrest

7f37f4082f13dbc793bc3a4420b5b331This…Blackmail is one way to get on base – The Washington Post

Disgraced former baseball player Lenny Dykstra, who played center field for the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, apparently developed an innovative way to get on base: Blackmail umpires. From Philly.com:

Dykstra admitted while being interviewed, with no provocation, that he used half a million dollars to hire a private investigation team to get dirt on umpires, including extramarital affairs and gambling, that he would then use to shrink his personal strike zone.

“It wasn’t a coincidence I led the league in walks the next few years, was it?”

ae75cb4e128a046aaca173803d8921d0WTF?

Former NYC jailhouse will be turned into a women’s center – NY Daily News

A former women’s prison located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is being converted into a women’s center, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.

The former medium-security Bayview Correctional Facility will be redeveloped by the NoVo Foundation, a not-for-profit group funded by Warren Buffett, and the Goren Group.

6978649930f2d30f6306cdc8d2c833e8The 100,000-square-foot “Women’s Building” will include office space for activists and groups that focus on women’s issues, community space for a female adolescent wellness clinic, a women’s art gallery and a restaurant.

“We are continuing our efforts to shatter the glass ceiling by taking down an institution of defeat and turning it into opportunity and social reform for women,” Cuomo said.

Good.

That is all I have today, and get one last laugh, from this little pug video.

 

 

 

What are you all looking at today?

 

 


Friday Reads: Economic Anemia

Good Morning!

MuslinVoodooDoll-2Since I’m in the middle of revamping my course for Graduate Finance Students in International Finance and reviewing textbooks and the usual stuff, I thought I’d focus on the economy for the morning.

One of the most awful results of the Reagan years has been the creation of mainstream paranoia over policy using  data evident from the scientific method, intellectuals and academics that spend years researching and learning theory and empirical evidence, and the idea that government can’t ameliorate issues through policy but is somehow a potential enemy of the governed.

This kind of paranoid drivel used to be the realm of militia types like Clive Bunday and John Birchers like the Koch Brothers and father.  It had no place in mainstream discourse until Reagan started pumping up the idea that poor people game the government and the government games every one else.   Its now spread to Christian extremists, the NRA, and most of the Republic Party.

Let me give you the latest example of someone who is possibly going to be a Senator from Iowa.  Joni Ernst is doing the Sharon Angle thing of declaring any government issue she doesn’t like her potential enemy and any one supporting that view as a potential target of her nice little gun that she carries with her everywhere. 

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

Ernst made the remark a little more than a month after gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Ernst’s campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment about the remark on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this year, Ernst released an ad in which she points a gun at the camera and vows to “unload” on Obamacare.

We’ve also experienced this massive attempt to rewrite secondary school textbooks and curricula to reflect the deeply held philosophical and religious views of these folks rather than theory or empirical evidence brought about by hundreds of years of research and scholarship.  This also ignores primary documents that show just the opposite to be factual.

But, facts be damned, there’s children’s minds to warp.  Biased ideas are not at the center of legitimate academic pursuit. Folks that follow agendas tend to live at the edges of universities and most departments are quite embarrassed by them. I spent time in a department where one research professor’s favorite pursuit was proving that iqs and brain sizes among varying races were the reason for underachieving groups in an economy.  All DNA evidence shows that race is a social construct but this guy spent a life time trying to show the relationship between brain sizes of races and incomes and jobs.  So, most time when you see folks that believe this stuff, they reside some where on the fringes.  However, since the Reagan years, there’s been a major attempt by right wing religious zealots to teach propaganda and there’s been a rather significant increase in the level of ignorance on things from incoming freshmen.

This is happening even in economics where you would think that paranoia about “communism” would’ve gone away since the fall of the USSR.  Not true, however.  They prefer to fear imagined boogey men and to set up  imagined fairy tale rescuers over doing policy that’s be proven effective in years of empirical study.

The standards’ authors are clearly fans of the free enterprise system, consistently emphasizing the advantage of American capitalism over other structures.

For example, the high school standards state that students should be able to “understand how the free enterprise system drives technological innovation and its application in the marketplace.” The middle school standards clearly promote free enterprise capitalism over other economic systems, saying that students should be able to “compare and contrast free enterprise, socialist, and communist economies in various contemporary societies, including the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system.” Finally, the standards connect capitalism with the conservative ideal of limited government, asking students to be able to “explain why a free enterprise system of economics developed in the new nation, including minimal government intrusion, taxation, and property rights.”

It really takes very little time spent in economics to realize that political constructs are not economic constructs. For example, the United States economy was founded on Mercantilism which began with monopolies, charters, grants and largess of royalty and aristocracy.  The concepts of Capitalismimages (3) and of Communism had the same roots and they were a lot more philosophical than ever real.  Even, now, we have a modified market system.  There has never EVER been a “free market” system or “communism” in an economic sense.  Socialism is just one end of a modified market system and still relies heavily on private ownership of the majority of factors of production.  Most facets of government policy are to make a market behave closer to a free market model because it can’t possibly d0 so under one factor, characteristic, or situation that exists. I mean really, who wants to leave the market for uranium to the free market?  That’s just an extreme example.

The problem is that dogma has overtaken reality among folks that now find themselves in office.  It’s bad for the country.  It’s bad for business. It’s bad for nearly every one.  The one thing that’s becoming abundantly clear since the Clinton Presidency and definitely during the Obama Presidency is that the Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and Big Business.  It’s not the Republicans.  No where is this more evident than economic reports written by the private sector.  Today’s Republicans scare the shit out of big business and finance.  The last few battles to keep the federal government and the deficit funded has nearly caused market meltdowns twice. You also don’t see them complain about increasing the minimum wage or decreasing the current level of income equality.  NO REALLY.   This means Chris Christie is really going to have some ‘splaining to do over this statement. 

Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Thursday panned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he’s “tired” of the minimum wage debate.

“Chris Christie’s got his head in the sand if he’s getting tired about the minimum wage,” Perez said according to Bloomberg Politics.

President Barack Obama and Democrats have led the push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and the issue has made its way onto the campaign trail this year.

“Chris Christie needs to talk to his economists, who will tell him that 70 percent of GDP growth is consumption,” Perez said Thursday.

The criticism came just days after Christie said he was “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference on Tuesday.

“I really am,” the Republican governor and potential 2016 hopeful said. “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.'”

“Is that what parents aspire to for our children?” Christie asked. “They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that’s not about a higher minimum wage.”

Before the Labor secretary chimed in, the remark drew fire from other Democrats, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest even quipped during a briefing Wednesday that people living on a minimum wage are those who are really tired.

Christie also used his time at the podium to make a 2016 prediction.

“I am convinced that the next president of the United States is going to be a governor,” Christie said. “We’ve had this experiment of legislating .. and getting on-the-job training in the White House. It has not been pretty.”

voodoo-doll-670So, this kind’ve talk is really making the economists of Wall Street and of huge corporations very nervous.  They’re quite aware that today’s Republican Party is tanking the economy.

Even though Republicans depict themselves as the party for business and banks, it turns out that the GOP’s economic policy is detrimental to their bottom lines and continued existence; particularly rising costs and stagnant wages since the Bush-Republican Great Recession. What both bankers and retailers really want instead of tax cuts, deregulation, and more Republican austerity and budget cuts are better incomes for all Americans that will lead to increased consumer confidence and greater purchasing power to trigger higher business profits. What they have learned after thirty years of “trickle-down” is that the trillions of dollars taken by the 1%, especially since 2009, have failed miserably to stimulate the economy. Instead, they demand more buying by the masses that Wall Street firms and analysis of 65 of the nation’s top retailers claim will only happen with, as President Obama preaches, growing the economy from the middle-out.

For example, in a report last month titled Inequality and Consumption, Morgan Stanley economists said, “Despite the roughly $25 trillion increase in wealth since the recovery from the financial crisis began, consumer spending remains anemic. Top income earners have benefited from wealth increases but middle and low income consumers continue facing structural liquidity constraints and unimpressive wage growth. To lift all boats, further increases in residential wealth and accelerating wage growth are needed.” Republicans completely disagree and either resist consideration of raising the minimum wage or promote abolishing it altogether. According to the Republicans, increasing income inequality must continue and it is crucial that they convince the population that no wage is too low. It is a belief the Koch brothers espouse but it is rapidly losing favor in circles whose survival depends on a population of consumers.

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating agency concurred with Morgan Stanley’s economists in their August report, How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide, and strongly advised the federal government to create “a path toward more sustainable growth, that in our view, will pull more Americans out of poverty and bolster the purchasing power of the middle class. A rising tide lifts all boats…but a lifeboat carrying a few, surrounded by many treading water, risks capsizing.” To “lift all boats,” S&P suggests a “high degree of rebalancing” that includes increased “spending in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure to help control the income gap that, at its current level, threatens the stability of an economy still struggling to recover.” Contrary to wisdom of real economists concerned with America’s economic survival, Republicans across the country have been laser-focused on their austerity crusade to cut spending on education, infrastructure, and healthcare including the cruel heartlessness of refusing free Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Despite the call from both banks and businesses to increase the minimum wage and spending on essentials for a robust recovery, congressional Republicans have obstructed and outright blocked each and every attempt by the President and Democrats to stimulate the economy. Despite trailing every developed nation on Earth in infrastructure, Republicans consistently refuse the President’s calls to increase spending on desperately-needed infrastructure repairs including roads, bridges, public buildings, and sewers that numerous economists, including some highly respected conservatives, say is crucial for job-creation, increased consumer spending, and a vibrant recovery. Increased consumer confidence, and spending, is something all economists agree is for the good of the country’s economy but can only happen if incomes rise for the majority with higher wages and more well-paying jobs.

I’ve said this a million times but it’s true.  If you have an economy that’s 70% reliant on consumer spending for growth and 99% of the population has stagnant to falling real income, you’re going to run into trouble.  Especially since a huge part of that 99% spends high levels, all of, or beyond black-voodoo-dolltheir income and wealth levels.  Years and years of evidence has shown that consumers are the real job creators.  No business hires workers if no one is buying their goods and services.  Rich people–especially with some of the horrid changes we’ve had in the tax code during the Dubya years–are spending more and more of the income and wealth on gambling paper for paper profits.  This does not create anything of value in a real economy but it sure creates asset bubbles and the potential for financial meltdowns.   One has only to survey retailers to figure out the relationship between incomes of the middle and working classes and their bottom lines and their hiring plans.

Former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, whose company had seen consumer traffic drop for six straight quarters and same-store sales drop for five quarters, explained in July 2014 that “we’ve reached a point where it’s not getting any better but it’s not getting any worse—at least for the middle (class) and down.” Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, put retailers’ feelings best when he said, “consistent with so many of our fellow retailers, we are experiencing a retail ‘funk.’” The culprit is obvious: low wage and income growth for the middle class. Median household income in 2013 stood 8 percentage points below its 2007 prerecession level.

The simple fact of the matter is that when households do not have money, retailers do not have customers. The failure of incomes to keep up with the growing cost of college, child care, and other middle-class staples leaves even less money for retail spending. A previous analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that this so-called “middle-class squeeze”—stagnant incomes and the growing cost of middle-class security—leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes, and other essentials that retailers sell.

Or, as officials of J.C. Penney—whose sales fell 9 percent in 20136—put it when listing the risks to its stock value: “the moderate income consumer, which is our core customer, has been under economic pressure for the past several years.”

Moreover, retail spending—which includes spending on everything from clothing to groceries to dining out—has broad implications for the entire economy since it accounts for a large fraction of consumer spending, which itself makes up 70
percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP.

Even Walmart is concerned even while not paying living wages, not providing good benefits, and not creating an environment where a worker feels secure about his/her future.  Now the weird thing is that fringe economists are still overly scared about inflation and high taxes.  These things, however, are not at the top of any one’s concerns that would be invited on any Fox News program.   Here’s a headline from Forbes: “Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat!”.  In 2012, a number of books evaluated the results of the economy under Democratic vs Republican administrations.  The results are startling.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.“ So even though we may hold very strong opinions about parties and politics, it is worthwhile to look at historical facts. This book’s authors are to be commended for spending several years, and many thousands of student research assistant man-days, sorting out economic performance from the common viewpoint – and the broad theories upon which much policy has been based. Their compendium of economic facts is the most illuminating document on economic performance during different administrations, and policies, than anything previously published.

The authors looked at a range of economic metrics including inflation, unemployment, corporate profit growth, stock market performance, household income growth, economy (GDP) growth, months in recession and others. To their surprise (I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Goldfarb) they discovered that laissez faire policies had far less benefits than expected, and in fact produced almost universal negative economic outcomes for the nation!

From this book loaded with statistical fact tidbits and comparative charts, here are just a few that caused me to realize that my long-term love affair with Milton Friedman‘s writing and recommended policies in “Free to Choose” were grounded in a theory I long admired, but that simply have proven to be myths when applied!

  • Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
  • Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
  • Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
  • The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations

The Obama economy is actually surprisingly good given that a large number of good economic policies have not been enacted due to Republican political kung fu.images (4)

It was no joke on Thursday when I asked Austan Goolsbee, a pretty fair amateur comic, to rattle of key economic indicators that are trending in very positive ways right now.
“Jobs created. Weekly U.I (jobless) claims. Unemployment rate. Auto Sales. Gas Prices,” said Goolsbee, former head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a onetime winner of the annual “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest.

And, yet, as a headline in Politico.com also noted Thursday, “Economic Anxiety Dominates 2014.” So what’s really and truly up? What explains the disconnect between seemingly very strong numbers and the lack of love for Obama and the Democrats?

“You can’t brag about the economy because people can’t feel it,” said Thomas Bowen, a Chicago-based Democratic political and policy consultant.

“I’m sure (some) Democrats have polled this: ‘The recovery isn’t working for you.’ That’s why they’re not running on the economy improving.

Not long after, I was driving past a state unemployment office along a rather somber commercial strip on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The parking lot was full. And then I mulled the folks I know working part-time involuntarily or sticking with jobs they don’t especially like out of fear of the limited alternatives.

“You’re talking about indicators in the last six months,” said Bowen. “But look at the start of the recession until today. We’re just getting out of the hole from jobs losses. And the jobs aren’t the same. They’re not higher paying construction jobs.” “Not all indicators equate with average folks,” said Anna Greenberg, a Washington-based Democratic pollster.

“Wages and salaries are stagnant,” she said. “Yes, the stock market is up and the jobless rate down. But the cost of living is up and you may not have more money.”

images (5)So, a lot of economists like me remain very confused.  It’s not like there’s not support by people and businesses for good policy like infrastructure projects, improving the terms of student loans so more folks can access higher and continuing education, and a reasonable minimum wage.  The cities and states that have raised the minimum wage are even those that are doing well among states.   States that have raised their minimum wages have better job growth.

New data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.

In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.

The Associated Press writes:

“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.

“Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — approved legislation mandating the increases.”

The AP notes: “[The] state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition” to the camp in favor of raising the minimum wage.

“Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.

” ‘It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,’ said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data ‘isn’t definitive,’ he added, but is ‘probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.’ “

So, it just appears that there’s a huge portion of the United States electorate and elected that would rather live in their dream world of imaginary beings and dogma than have their lives made better by using what we know and what we’ve learned.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Apollo 13 and Midget Mansion

a2828e0d67a998272aebc61c0f4adb0eGood Morning

It is another year…for me at least…44 of them! I don’t have any plans today, except sit and worry about my Bebe who is off in Chicago. She has a performance today and then the competition tomorrow afternoon before she heads back to Banjoville.

A long ass bus ride back to Banjoville.

l-p15tgzo47f97a6Anyway, before I get to the links just a quick note about the pictures for today’s post. They are all centered around the Apollo 13 mission that took off exactly 44 years ago today.  Links to photo galleries at the end of this thread.

On to the newsy stories.

The latest on that horrific bus crash in California is confusing. Bus crash: Witness says FedEx truck lost control while changing lanes

A witness to Thursday’s deadly tour bus crash said the driver of the FedEx truck appeared to lose control while changing lanes before barreling across the center median of Interstate 5 and colliding head-on with a tour bus filled with high school students.

af13b91b9fd5110c11240fb43c7441d2Ryan Householder told The Times on Saturday that he was mowing his lawn, which faces the southbound lanes of the highway, when he heard screeching tires Thursday. He looked up and watched the crash occur. The drivers of both vehicles were killed as were eight people on board the tour bus.

[…]

Householder, 31, said the FedEx truck, hauling two trailers, was in the slower of two southbound lanes behind a red van, he said. The truck tried to merge into the faster lane, he said, but there were two cars there.

At that point, the truck driver seemed to lose control of his vehicle, Householder said. The truck shot across the grassy median, shearing the tops off bushes that separate the northbound and southbound lanes.

The truck began straightening out, Householder said, but by that time it was already on the northbound lane and it collided with the bus carrying high school students on their way to Humboldt State University.

“When they collided, it was boom!” he said. Both vehicles erupted into fire.

The truck, Householder said, was not on fire before the crash.

c98ce7e19c8423a1c74ae9378b5ad4c8However this is differs from another eyewitness earlier story: ORLAND, Calif: Conflicting accounts emerge about deadly California bus crash |

Bonnie and Joe Duran told TV reporters in Northern California late Friday that their Nissan Altima was sideswiped by the truck before it collided head-on with the bus. They said flames were visible from the big rig as it crossed the median and hit their car.

“It was on fire already,” Bonnie Duran said.

Investigators have not publicly responded to the Durans’ account.

Cameron Birk, the couple’s son-in-law, told The Times Saturday that he has talked to Joe Duran several times since the accident. He said Duran told him the couple were driving northbound on the interstate in the left lane, with Bonnie at the wheel, when they first saw the FedEx truck. Bonnie jerked the wheel to the right to avoid a head-on collision.

“The truck was already on fire when it had crossed the median,” Birk recalled Joe Duran telling him. “They were the first car it hit, so they just jerked the wheel hard and got side-wiped.” They spun out and got thrown into a ditch, Birk said.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/12/224252/conflicting-accounts-emerge-about.html#storylink=cpy

World news is buzzing:

5d06c9b5640305ad7f39b74f40457615Thousands in Paris and Rome protest austerity measures | Al Jazeera America

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.

Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.

There were dozens of lighter injuries among police and protesters, and at least six arrests, police said.

The protest was organized as a challenge to high housing costs and joblessness as a result of Italy’s long economic slowdown. The procession made its way peacefully through central Rome until the more violent element wearing helmets started throwing objects at police near the Labor Ministry.

220c50b4a7a1db8872ce833884cb0318And in a West Virginia water chemical crap spill of epic proportions: China: Water ban for millions after oil spill hits refinery town | Al Jazeera America

A crude oil leak from a pipeline owned by a unit of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) is to blame for water contamination that has affected more than 2.4 million people in the Chinese city of Lanzhou, in the the landlocked northwest part of the country, according to Chinese media reports Saturday.

The leak poisoned the water source for a water plant, introducing hazardous levels of benzene into the city’s water, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.

Residents scrambled to buy bottled water after authorities warned against using taps, in scenes reminiscent of a municipal water ban in the United States, following a coal-processing chemical spill that affected 300,000 West Virginians in January.

Xinhau cited Yan Zijiang, Lanzhou’s environmental protection chief, as saying that a leak in a pipeline owned by Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., a unit of CNPC, was to blame for the water contamination.

Read more on the pollution regulations they are trying to reign in over there in China.

Down Under: Tropical Cyclone Hits Australia As ‘One Of The Most Powerful Storms’ In ‘Living Memory’ | ThinkProgress

Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Reads: Newtown Anniversary, Normalizing Gun Violence, and Other News

Henri-Matisse-Painting-011 child reading

Good Morning!!

I spent yesterday preparing for Winter Storm Electra. I stopped by the hardware store to get ice melt crystals and then headed to the grocery store to drop off a prescription and a few things I’ll need in case I can’t get my car out of the driveway for a couple of days.

I had an appointment in the afternoon, and then I made a fruitless attempt to find a parking space in the giant Whole Foods parking lot in Cambridge. Then back to my regular grocery store to pick up my prescription and a few refrigerated items. The store was even more packed this time, so I was glad I had stopped earlier. Finally, I went home, to stash my purchases and scatter ice melt on the all the icy surfaces left over from Winter Storm Dion.

So now I’m in hibernation mode until Monday. I just hope I can handle the shoveling myself. The weather folks are predicting anything from 5 to 12 inches of snow for my area. It was 11 degrees here when I woke up and its only 12 degrees right now. It’s hard to believe it can even snow when it’s so cold. But the weather people say it’s going to snow. If it starts this afternoon, I plan to shovel before it gets dark–then there won’t be so much to do tomorrow. It’s way too early for this. It won’t even be officially winter until next week. Those of you in the Midwest are probably already getting the storm–how is it going there? Is it still cold down South? We can commiserate in the comments.

Now to the news. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Newtown, but today is the anniversary of that awful day. It still breaks my heart when I think about it. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of the families who lost children. From CNN:

Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.

The legacy of the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is so profound that it cannot hold just one meaning. It holds several. That’s because the crime itself conveys multiple issues in its summary:

A mentally ill 20-year-old recluse obsessed with school shootings enters Sandy Hook Elementary School after the morning bell and kills six adult women, 12 girls and eight boys in 11 minutes. The children were 6 or 7 years old. The heavily armed Adam Lanza, who first killed his mother before taking her car to the school, also killed himself, in a classroom.

On the anniversary of the December 14 slaughter — under the shadow of another school shooting, this time at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado — country and community alike pause and reflect on an event known simply as “Newtown” or “Sandy Hook” and what it says about America on the matters of guns, mental health, healing, and the human spirit.

Henri Matisse-324684

A whole year after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and 6 adults, and our do-nothing Congress has done exactly nothing to control the purchase of weapons of war for everyday use. CBS News reports:

Not a single federal law curbing gun violence has passed in the year since a young man from Newtown, Conn. who’d long exhibited signs of mental instability got a hold of his mother’s AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle and two of her handguns and gunned down 20 first-graders and six of their educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life.

Capping a year that saw the most mass shootings in U.S. history, Newtown seemed to mark a turning point in national conversation about gun control. Within a month of the shooting, President Obama – promising to make the issue a hallmark of his second-term agenda – had signed several executive orders to make schools safer and gun purchases more transparent. But real reform, he said, would require bipartisan backing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Six months after the Dec. 14, 2012 tragedy, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., insisted the push for tougher gun laws and bolstered support for mental health in America was “still on the front burner.” But foundation for that statement was flimsy.

Manchin’s own amendment to strengthen background checks for gun purchases – co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and seen by many in Congress to be the most realistic hope for immediate reform to gun laws – had collapsed in the Senate two months earlier. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had “hit pause” on debate over firearms altogether, pulling the legislation from the floor indefinitely.

The emotions surrounding Newtown, it seemed, were no longer driving the conversation about gun control.

Is anyone really surprised that something a huge majority of Americans support cannot get through Congress? Of course not. We can’t even get them to stop hurting the economy with their obsessive and idiotic push for unnecessary austerity. We should turn every one of them out of office–Democrats and Republicans and start from scratch.

And is anyone shocked that there was another school shooting the day before this horrible anniversary? Why should we be? Our so-called leaders don’t seem to care how many children die so they can keep getting donations from the NRA. A couple of stories on the shooting in Colorado.

matisselike portraits by kids

Denver Post as of last night: Shooting at Arapahoe High School, 1 girl in critical condition, gunman dead.

A student carried a shotgun into Arapahoe High School, asked where to find a specific teacher and then opened fire on Friday, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. He shot a fellow student in the head before apparently killing himself.

A 15-year-old girl was reported in critical condition after undergoing surgery. Two other students were treated and released from a hospital for non-gunshot injuries.

The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Karl Pierson, was found dead inside a classroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Robinson said. Authorities believe he acted alone.

Robinson said authorities are investigating reports that Pierson may have been motivated by revenge against the teacher following a disagreement….Fellow classmates described the gunman as a bright student and a gifted debater whose family attended Bible study meetings.

A little more from USA Today:

The shootings — on the eve of the anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, in which 20 students and six staffers were murdered — sent scores of terrified students and staffers at Centennial’s Arapahoe High School scurrying at about 12:30 p.m. Police and other first responders quickly mobilized to surround the 2,220-student school.

A 15-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound and was reported in critical condition at a Littleton hospital Friday evening.One other student suffered minor gunshot-related injuries and was released from the hospital hours later, authorities said. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Friday night that another girl taken to a hospital was covered in blood from the other student, but wasn’t injured….

The gunman also brought two Molotov cocktails inside the school and exploded one, KUSA-TV reported. The other was found and removed by the bomb squad.

The incident unfolded when the armed student entered the west side of the school from a student parking lot. He told other students he was interested in confronting a specific teacher. “Word got around immediately,” Robinson said.

The teacher, informed of the situation, fled the building unharmed, said Robinson, who noted that the teacher’s decision to flee helped limit the potential carnage.

Our children are dying violently in this country, in places in which they should be safe–their schools and their homes. Why aren’t we doing anything to protect them? At an age when they should be concentrating on learning, developing social skills, and just having fun, our children are threatened by gun violence on a daily basis. What kind of nation allows this kind of slaughter to continue in the name of “second amendment rights” and greed? A few more links from around the ‘net:

Reuters: Obama marks Newtown school shooting anniversary with call for gun control

Star-Tribune Nation: In Newtown, a year of wrenching reminders

Mother Jones: Portraits of the Hundreds of Children Killed by Guns Since Newtown

Matthew Lysiak at The Guardian: We can no longer allow sick individuals like Adam Lanza to go on untreated

New York Daily News: Another year of the gun 

Gawker: What Kind of Monster Wants to Shoot Up His School? (highly recommended)

Matisse reading

In other news, 

Here’s a surprising story from Jonthan Turley’s blog: Federal Court Strikes Down Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah

It is with a great pleasure this evening to announce that decision of United States District Court judge Clarke Waddoups striking down key portions of the Utah polygamy law as unconstitutional. The Brown family and counsel have spent years in both the criminal phase of this case and then our challenge to the law itself in federal court. Despite the public statements of professors and experts that we could not prevail in this case, the court has shown that it is the rule of law that governs in this country. As I have previously written, plural families present the same privacy and due process concerns faced by gay and lesbian community over criminalization. With this decision, families like the Browns can now be both plural and legal in the state of Utah.  The Court struck down the provision as violating both the free exercise clause of the first amendment as well as the due process clause.   The court specifically struck down language criminalizing cohabitation — the provision that is used to prosecute polygamists.  The opinion is over 90 pages and constitutes a major constitutional ruling in protection of individual rights.

I just don’t know what to say about this, because I associate polygamy with the abuse of women and children. Am I a bigot? A couple more links:

Salt Lake Tribune: Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional

The Telegraph: ‘Sister Wives’ reality star wins legal fight against Utah anti-polygamy law

I haven’t been following the Robert Levinson story, but I will be from now on. Levinson has been missing in Iran for 7 years and has just been outed as a CIA operative. Links:

NYT: A Disappearing Spy, and a Scandal at the C.I.A.

ABC News: Family of Robert Levinson, American Held In Iran, Says He Was Spying for the CIA

The Register-Guard: White House declines to discuss missing American Robert Levinson’s CIA ties

Gawker: ABC, NYT Repeatedly Lied About CIA Operative Robert Levinson

Liberty Voice: Robert Levinson: Used by CIA, Forgotten by USA, Burned by Media, Left in Iran

WaPo: Sen. Bill Nelson: I told AP not to run Robert Levinson story

Those are my offerings today. What stories are you following? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads

morning coffee book

Good Morning!!

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds is apparently recovering from stab wounds inflicted by his son Gus on Tuesday. The young man shot himself after attacking his father. But state officials are investigating why Gus was refused psychiatric care the day before the attack. NBC Washington:

The incident has raised new questions about the capacity of Virginia’s mental health system. Tuesday, it was reported that hours before the attack Gus Deeds was the subject of an emergency custody order — but a bed at a hospital or psychiatric treatment facility was not available, and he was released home.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that  three hospitals within a two-hour drive of Bath County did have beds available, and two of the three say they were never contacted by the Rockbridge County Community Services Board trying to find a placement for Deeds son.

The state inspector general has now launched an investigation to find out what led to Gus Deeds’ release after the custody order was issued.

“Regardless of whether or not there were beds, there was not a system to determine if there were beds available,” Howell said. “It seems to me we should have a clearinghouse of some kind so that when somebody needs a bed, there is a very efficient way to find out where one is available.”

According to NBC Washington,

Dozens of mentally ill patients at risk of doing “serious harm” to themselves or others in Virginia were denied access to some psychiatric treatment in a span of just three months studied by state investigators, according to agency documents reviewed by the News4 I-Team.

An audit of Virginia’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, performed over a 3-month span in late 2011, found 72 people “at risk for serious harm” and in need of care received less treatment than necessary, in part because of a shortage of available psychiatric beds in the state.

Internal state investigators call the shortfall “a failure of the system” and a “canary in the coal mine” warning for Virginia leaders.

Agency documents show a decline in the overall number of treatment space for the mentally ill in Virginia. A 2007 report found 1,794 available hospital beds for the mentally ill in Virginia, but the number had dropped to 1,699 beds available in 2011.

Internal investigators reported, “Acute and intensive treatment beds in … state-operated psychiatric hospitals have also decreased, while the population has grown by approximately 13 percent during the last decade.”

Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with budget cuts in states controlled by Republicans? From Think Progress:

“Many states appear to be effectively terminating a public psychiatric treatment system that has existed for nearly two centuries,” wrote researchers in a 2012 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a nonprofit group that examines mental health issues. “The system was originally created to protect both the patients and the public, and its termination is taking place with little regard for the consequences to either group.”

According to the report, Virginia eliminated 15 percent of its public psychiatric beds between 2005 and 2010. The state has just 17.6 such beds per 10,000 people — less than 40 percent of the recommended minimum 50 beds per 10,000 people. That didn’t stop Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) from proposing even more cuts to mental health programs in 2012.

But McDonnell isn’t the only one to embrace such cuts. In fact, state governments across the nation slashed psychiatric funding to the point that, overall, the nation’s hospitals had just 28 percent of the recommended minimum number of hospital beds by 2010. Those reductions continued in the following years as states slashed $4.35 billion in mental health services between 2009 and 2012, forcing State Mental Health Agencies (SMHAs) to shutter mental health hospitals and eliminate nearly 10 percent of total available beds in those three years alone.

This is an issue that was discussed during the recent VA race for governor. From the Oct. 23rd Washington Post: Virginia’s mental health system needs money; candidates differ on how to provide it.

The major-party candidates for governor of Virginia agree that mental health systems need more resources. But their approaches differ greatly, based in part on how they view the Medicaid expansion of the new health-care law in Virginia.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe favors a Medicaid expansion wholeheartedly. He says it would provide new health-care coverage for about 400,000 Virginians and would increase money for mental health treatment.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli II opposes a Medicaid expansion completely and says McAuliffe’s estimates of its effect on Virginia are greatly overstated. Cuccinelli wants to increase state funding for mental health, but he would do so by shifting current Medicaid funds from other health-care areas. He also said he would target waste, fraud and abuse and use the savings to bolster options for the mentally ill and the intellectually disabled.

Fortunately for the people of Virgina, Terry McAuliffe won the election, and corrective measures will likely be taken. But they’ll come too late for Gus Deeds and his family. If a wealthy and connected family has this problem, can you imagine what it’s like for poorer people who need mental health treatment in Republican-controlled states?

teen+police+brutality+2

This story out of Philadelphia is horrible: Mom of Alleged Teen Shoplifter Accuses Police of Brutality. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the boy is African American.

The mother of the 14-year-old boy, who was arrested for shoplifting, is accusing police of roughing him up.

“The picture speaks a thousand words,” says Marissa Sargeant, who shared several graphic photos with NBC10 that shows her son bruised, cut and swollen.

The teen was arrested by Tullytown Police for retail theft at Walmart on Tuesday night, along with an adult relative.

“What he did was wrong. He was coerced by a 19-year-old. He does know better,” said Sargeant.

“Roughing him up?” I’d say that’s quite an understatement, based on the photo.

Authorities say after the teen’s arrest, and before he was loaded into a police car, he took off running along Route 13 while handcuffed.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler tells NBC10 that police officers yelled warnings at the teen and fearing for his safety, they fired a stun gun to subdue him. The D.A. says the Taser struck the boy in the face and with his hands cuffed, the boy had no way to brace himself against falling face-first.

“That doesn’t sound right. There’s no way, if he was running from behind, that he would get hit with a taser in the front of his face,” said Sargeant.

The mom suspects police probably beat up her son as well, and I’d have to agree with her. Heckler is “investigating,” but he doesn’t think police did anything wrong. Sounds like a really unbiased “investigation,” doesn’t it?

Republicans are still blocking President Obama’s judicial nominees right and left, and Democrats are once again threatening to get rid of the filibuster for appointments. {Sigh…} Do you suppose there’s any chance they actually mean it this time? From The Washington Post:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is poised to move forward on Thursday with a vote on what is known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option,” several Democrats said. Mr. Reid and the senators who have been the most vocal on stopping the Republican blockade of White House nominees are now confident they have the votes to make the change.

“We’re not bluffing,” said one senior aide who has spoken with Mr. Reid directly and expects a vote on Thursday, barring any unforeseen breakthrough on blocked judges.

The threat that Democrats could significantly limit how the filibuster can be used against nominees has rattled Republicans. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has brokered last-minute deals that have averted a change to filibuster rules in the past, visited Mr. Reid in his office on Thursday but failed to strike a compromise.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa took to the Senate floor and denounced Democrats, saying that if they changed the rules, Republicans would consider them applicable to all judicial nominees, including those for the Supreme Court. Mr. Reid has said he supports keeping intact the minority party’s ability to filibuster controversial Supreme Court nominees.

“Apparently the other side wants to change the rules while still preserving the ability to block a Republican president’s ability to replace a liberal Supreme Court Justice with an originalist,” Mr. Grassley said.

At Politico, William Yeomans, an American University law professor and former Justice Department official says “Nuke ’em Harry!”

Democrats, it’s time to bid farewell to the filibuster as we’ve known it. Your restraint has gone beyond admirable to foolish. The institution for which you have shown extraordinary respect over the past four years, as Republicans flouted its best traditions, is no more. Republicans have overplayed their hand by disregarding prior agreements and turning the Senate into a graveyard—or at least a critical care unit—for obviously qualified presidential nominees. Republican obstruction has left you with nothing to lose by bringing the Senate fully into the 21st century and allowing the majority to rule. It’s time to change the rules….

Worried about blowback? Don’t be. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) helped expose the Republicans’ loss of leverage when he threatened that if the Democrats changed the filibuster rule, Republicans would appoint more justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Whoa! Is he suggesting that Republicans won’t appoint more radically conservative justices if Democrats keep the filibuster? That might be a deal worth taking, but it wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on. If Republicans regain control of the White House, any Supreme Court nominees will very much be in the model of Scalia and Thomas, and their colleagues Roberts and Samuel Alito—if not worse. That means they will disregard any pretense of judicial restraint to eviscerate civil rights laws, restrain congressional authority to enact social legislation, support states over the federal government and big business over labor, oppose the interests of consumers and make sure the executioner stays in business.

In reality, Republicans have nothing left with which to threaten you. Just stop and think about how unimportant the filibuster has been to you. You chose not to use it to stop Thomas and Alito, even though more than enough Democrats to support a filibuster voted against each. You embraced Scalia (by unanimous vote!) and Roberts. When Republican presidents went too far, you mustered the majority vote necessary to stop them without resorting to the filibuster. That’s why we didn’t have a Justice Bork, Carswell or Haynsworth, or a Secretary of Defense Tower, or an Associate Attorney General Reynolds. Sure, Miguel Estrada would be on the D.C. Circuit, but that hardly justifies tying your own hands in perpetuity.

He’s absolutely right, but do the wimpy Dems have the courage to act? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Here’s your stupid right wing corporate media story for today from Media Matters. David Gregory compares Obamacare to the Iraq war.

Not once but twice in recent days Meet The Press host David Gregory announced that the troubled launch of President Obama’s new health care law is roughly the equivalent to President Bush’s badly bungled war with Iraq. The NBC anchor was quick to point out that he didn’t mean the two events were the same with regards to a death toll. (Nobody has died from health care reform.) But Gregory was sure that in terms of how the former president and the current president are viewed, in terms of damage done to their credibility, the men will be forever linked to a costly, bloody war and a poorly functioning website, respectively.

“Everybody looked at Bush through the prism of Iraq,” Gregory explained. “Here, I think people are going to look at Obama through the implementation of Obamacare.”  It’s Obama’s defining event of their two-term presidency. It’s a catastrophic failure that’s tarnished Obama’s second term, and will perhaps “wreck” his entire presidency, according to the media’s “doom-mongering bubble,” as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones described it.

But like the painfully inappropriate comparisons to Hurricane Katrina that have populated the press, Gregory’s attempt to draw a Bush/Obama parallel is equally senseless. Bush’s war morass stretched over five years, so of course it defined his presidency.  Obama’s health care woes are in week number six and could be fixed within the next month.

Media Matters points out that not only is this “the mother lode of false equivalency,” but it’s a sly effort to “downgrade Bush’s historical failures, and to cover the media’s tracks of deception.”

I’ll end with two fascinating science stories to take your mind off politics and other distressing news.

Mars rock

From BBC News: Black Beauty rock ‘is oldest chunk of Mars’

A rock discovered in the Sahara Desert is the oldest Martian meteorite ever found, scientists believe.

Earlier research had suggested it was about two billion years old, but new tests indicate the rock actually dates to 4.4 billion years ago.

The dark and glossy meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, would have formed when the Red Planet was in its infancy.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

Lead author Prof Munir Humayan, from Florida State University, US, said: “This [rock] tells us about one of the most important epochs in the history of Mars.”

Read the rest at the link.

And from The Sydney Morning Herald: Siberian DNA link to Native Americans discovered.

The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta, near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, about 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.

The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last ice age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed.

The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion – about 25 per cent – of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population.

Amazing, huh?
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please share your links in the coMenusmment thread.

Tuesday: Something’s Gotta Give!

greta garbo reading

Good Morning!!

I’ve finally reached a point of such frustration with politics, with the do-nothing Congress, and the mostly unserious media, that I wonder if the bottleneck of corruption, incompetence, and stupidity in Washington DC will ever be broken.

Congress–particularly the Senate–is populated mostly with old, rich white men who work about two days a week at most and take so many vacations that it’s hard to keep track of when they’re actually on the job. When the rest of us have a day off, they get a week. And for major holidays like Christmas, they take a month. It’s sickening.

The Republican House spends its two days a week mostly taking votes to repeal or defund Obamacare or finding new ways to wage war on women’s individual freedom and autonomy. The rest of their time is spent trying to take food out of the mouths of poor children by cutting food stamps and other safety net programs. Then there are the states where Republican governors and legislatures are waging all-out war on women and pretty much anyone who isn’t in the top 1%.

Meanwhile, our roads and bridges are falling down all over the country. Can you imagine how many jobs the government could create by helping to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? Not only that, but baby boomers like me could be put back to work helping in the schools. The government could create a WPA for the growing ranks of seniors instead of attacking us for collecting the Social Security and Medicare we’ve paid into for our entire lives!

Will the logjam ever break? Will we ever see the slightest focus on jobs and economic equality for the vast majority of Americans?

Back in 2000, after the Supreme Court designated George W. Bush as president, I despaired and ignored politics for awhile. But after 9/11 and the lies that dragged us into two wars that ended up being longer and more pointless than the war of my youth–Vietnam–I began to follow politics closely again. I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to pay attention to what was being done in our name. And I did.

I had gone back to college in 1993 and got into using computers again. In 1997, I started graduate school, and got my first PC and immediately got my cable company to hook it up to the internet. I joined internet mailing lists where I could discuss issues that interested me.

Around 2003, I heard about “weblogs,” and I set out to find some that discussed politics. Every day I read and commented at Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, and dozens of other liberal blogs. Most of you know the rest. In 2008, I was driven off DK after I failed to drink the Obot Koolaid. I wrote for a small blog for a couple of years and then finally Dakinkat and I joined up here at Sky Dancing, along with Mona and JJ.

I’m here and I want to keep on writing here. I love learning about new subjects when I research news stories. But Goddammit, I want something new to happen. I want our government to be functional and have positive effects on my life and the lives of other ordinary people.

Back in 2008 I pretty much shut off the TV and focused on getting my news on the internet. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been escaping into detective novels and watching old movies on the tube. It’s difficult to find things blog about when the news is the same every day–the war on women and working people and Congress refusing to lift a finger to improve the economic situation for the vast majority of Americans.

As you know, lately I’ve become fascinated by the case of Edward Snowden and his leaks about NSA spying. Previously, I had focused on the bombings that took place in Boston and that had led me to do a lot of research on Russia, where the accused bombers’ roots were. So when Snowden ended up in Russia, I had a little bit of background on the place.

When the NSA leaks first broke, I thought it was possible we might get some real movement on the issue of domestic spying, but once Snowden revealed himself the story became mostly about him and his mouthpiece Glenn Greenwald.

Now the Snowden story has also settled into a holding pattern. The Russians are enjoying playing with their new toy and sticking it to the Obama administration, and Greenwald isn’t even writing about leaks anymore. He just writes long, angry lectures about how Democrats and liberals are the root of all evil.

Speaking of libertarians, have you noticed the Ayn Rand crowd is taking over and brainwashing a lot of so-called “progressives?” Last week there was an effort to pass an amendment that would have prevented NSA from collecting any telephone metadata. Instead of having an intelligent discussion about how to carefully regulate electronic surveillance, we would have simply ended it–and gone back to where we were before 9/11 in terms of identifying terrorist threats.

That bill was named after an Ayn Rand worshipping wingnut from Michigan named Justin Amash whose goal is to remove all power from the Federal government except the power to control women’s bodies! Did you know that Amash wants to ban abortions as of three days after conception? This reactionary who is being called “the next Ron Paul” was actually named “Truthdigger of the week.” Are you kidding me?

Have we finally reached the point where the “progressives” of 2008 are joining with the anti-statist libertarians? Sorry, but I’m not down with that. I believe in government, and I believe we need a strong Federal government. I think the states have too much power over people’s lives right now. I think we need a national equal rights amendment to end the constant ridiculous efforts to control the lives of women and LGBT people!

Now I’ve ranted away much of the space for this post, and I haven’t really given you any news. I’m going to post a few links, and I will put up another post a little later on. And If you have any suggestions for how I can deal with my Political Affective Disorder, I’ll be very grateful to receive them.

President Obama has been trying to put some focus on economics, and will make his fourth speech on the topic today. A few links:

The Windsor Star– Analysis: Obama tries to shift focus to economy, faces withering Republican opposition

WSJ– Obama Economic Proposals Face Long Odds in Congress

Dean Baker– Cruel Arithmetic and President Obama’s Big Speech

The Hill– Obama to propose ‘grand bargain’ on jobs, corporate tax rates

Other News

Fox News– 8 injured, including 4 critically, after dozens of explosions rock central Florida propane plant

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker– Waiting for the Bradley Manning Verdict

Vanity Fair– Anthony Weiner’s Cringe-y New Sexts Reveal Request for “Daily Shoe Update”

USA Today– San Diego mayor wants taxpayers to foot legal bills

So…….. What’s new with you today? Are you frustrated, depressed, or perhaps inspired? What issues are you focusing on today? Please let me know in the comment thread.