Monday Reads: and the beat goes on

5a07c9c80ea19b926bd8bac117a57dbbWhat can be said about the violence erupting around the country and around the world these days?  Words can fail us. We’re losing hearts and minds along with lives.  How did we get here?  I hope we don’t have to wait on historians to deconstruct the causes because we’re careening towards a future that seems better imagined by George Miller and Byron Kennedy of Mad Max fame.  Dystopian fiction should not actually portend reality. It should be a harbinger of possibilities we can avoid; not outcomes we bring on to ourselves.

Today will be another reminder that one of the two major parties has completely lost its ability to govern and is stuck some where  we should not be.  We have the Republicans about ready to nominate a dude that reminds me of the Dennis Hopper character in Water World.   Trump sounds as crazy as that character.  I’m waiting to hear his big convention floor speech and wondering if he’ll be waving a cigar and a bottle of Jack and be wearing an eye patch, frankly.  We’re losing our sense of community and our sense of responsibility as members of community.

Our sense of alienation perhaps comes from  a world where we are more likely to connect with technology than with a human being and where our jobs are continually dehumanizing us. This generally makes us susceptible to folks that play on our anger. We’ve had two very angry pseudo populists on the national stage who really represent privilege that have done a great job of stirring up resentment.   They’ve also stirred up some insane reaction to that visible resentment.  I personally am watching my neighborhood be torn apart by already rich people looking to make more money by dismantling everything and every one deemed unprofitable.  I feel like I only exist to many of them as a possible source of monetization although I can tell I’ve outlived my usefulness for that as an aging woman of little means these days.

How did we get to a point where one of the two major parties is actually going to nominate a man whose speeches call for the dismantling of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to our Constitution? Are we so far down the rabbit hole that we’ll actually sell out the rule of law for guns and anger?

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest inrewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as  “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

Many of us have long harbored the idea that today’s Republican Party only cares about the idea of a Second Amendment on steroids and Waterworld-Hopperthe rest of our civil liberties and rights should be damned.  The realities of what I used to believe were brief moments of paranoia are just on full display this week.  Have you seen the pictures of the up-armored bicycle police in Cleveland?  I mean, how Clockwork Orange is that? Don’t even get me started on the entire idea of letting folks with assault rifles into the protest pits to strut around like dildo-toting S&M bondage RPers who are likely trigger happy. We just had three police officers ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge and the response is to let more crazies out on the streets with guns?  Really?  Really?

Hours after the head of Cleveland’s police union pleaded with the governorto suspend Ohio’s open-carry laws during the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress she is “not nervous at all” that people are walking around the city with assault weapons.

“I am recommending that people follow the law,” Katrina Pierson said Sunday when asked whether she believes people should arm themselves in the convention zone. Under Ohio law, residents over 21 years old who legally own a firearm can openly carry it in public.

In light of the shooting and death of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him,” union president Stephen Loomis told CNN. “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request.

The violence in Louisiana on Sunday was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes between police and civilians over the past few weeks. When an angry, heavily-armed civilian began shooting at police during a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month, the state’s open-carry law made it difficult for police to track down the assailant. Officers mistook at least one legally armed resident for a suspect, and the proliferation of guns made it more difficult for them to determine who posed a threat.

In the weeks leading up to the RNC, Cleveland officials expressed concern that Ohio’s law, like Texas’, would create a dangerous and hectic environment outside the convention.

2002-British-TVI’m going to put up a few links about what’s been going down in my state but I really have gone past words at some level. I have a few scattered thoughts. First, the two most recent shooters–while being black men–remind me more of Timothy McVeigh than anything coming from BLM.   These recent institutional shooters all have a military background and appear to have spent extensive time in theater over in the Middle East.

The Dallas police shooter was an army Vet and a “loner”.   The Baton Rouge Shooter was a former Marine.   Here’s a list of 22 serial killers with military backgrounds.  Are we really doing a good job of identifying vets with problems and helping them before setting them loose on society again?  Don’t we owe them and ourselves something at all?  If we broke them, shouldn’t we fix them or at least help them in some way to cope with their experiences?

There’s a lot of studies and work that’s been done that show PTSD contributes to violence. Are we just beginning to see some more of the real costs of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and sustaining a brutal ground war?

At the end of their 15-month tour in Iraq, the Lethal Warriors returned to Fort Carson with an impressive battlefield record, having cleared one of the worst parts of Baghdad, in some cases digging up IEDs with little more than screwdrivers and tire irons. Unfortunately, the Lethal Warriors achieved a kind of notoriety that was less for their battlefield exploits than for the battalion’s connection to a string of murders. In December 2007 two soldiers from the unit, Robert James and Kevin Shields, were killed, and three fellow soldiers were charged with murder. The killings were part of a larger pattern of violence extending back to 2005, including 11 murders, in what was the largest killing spree involving a single army base in modern U.S. history.

The increased violence around Fort Carson began at the start of the Iraq war. A 126-page Army report known as an “Epidemiological Consultation” released in 2009 found that the murder rate around the Army’s third-largest post had doubled and that the number of rape arrests had tripled. As David Philipps wrote in Lethal Warriors, his 2010 book about the crime spree, “In the year after the battalion returned from Iraq, the per-capita murder rate for this small group of soldiers was a hundred times greater than the national average.” Tellingly, 2-12’s post-traumatic stress disorder rate was more than three times that of an equivalent unit that had served in a less violent part of Iraq. The EPICON summarized all this in classic bureaucratic language, noting dully that there was “a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcomes.”

Put another way, war has a way of bringing out the dark side in people.

Road-WarriorOur institutions seem to do be doing that to a lot of people.  Combine that with easy access to military grade weapons and candidates whose stump speeches bring on anger and resentment and you’ve just got some kind of accelerant to death and violence imho anyway.  Mother Jones has started to keep a database on mass shootings and the profiles of the perpetrators is really quite enlightening. This is from 2012 to get you situated.   Here’s the list of the deadliest Mass shootings from 1984 to 2016.  The US is resplendent with well-armed rampage killers. Many of them are trained and experienced killers, quite damaged, and have easy access to weapons.

This is a 2013 Wired article that shows that a lot of the killings at that time were associated with folks with no military experience at all.  A lot of these killers have a fascination with military life styles but that is more along the lines of militias rather than the US military.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

How will these recent, targeted shootings of police change our ideas of mass, rampage shooters?  The Baton Rouge shooter has left a huge manifesto on various social media outlets that will likely be analyzed by crime profilers  and psychologists for some time.

Long posted dozens of videos and podcasts on his webpage “Convos With Cosmo” in addition to regularly tweeting and posting on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym “Cosmo Setepenra.”

In a video titled “Convos With Cosmo on Protesting, Oppression, and how to deal with Bullies” that was posted a week before Sunday’s shooting, he rants about “fighting back” against “bullies” and discussed the killings of black men at the hands of the police, referencing the death of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge earlier this month.

No matter what kinds of lessons we learn about motives or triggers to these kinds of horrible shootings, the one thing we do know is that we have scads of damaged men that have easy access to incredibly powerful weapons wrecking havoc on our communities.  We also know that there is a hard core group of gun fetishists and profiteers that don’t give a damn about that.  While ignoring the perpetual drip drip drip of lost rights from other amendments, the second amendment is being hyped, dosed, and morphed into something that it was never meant to be.  The Republican party is complicit to each and every murder victim.  Machine Guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled.

Jay Hollis sought permission to convert his AR-15, a popular semi-automatic firearm, into an M16 — an automatic firearm that is banned under federal law, except for official use or lawfully obtained pre-1986 models.

After he was rejected, Hollis mounted a constitutional challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968 — which Congress amended in 1986 to make it illegal to possess or transfer newly manufactured machine guns. Among other things, he argued that an “M-16 is the quintessential militia-styled arm for the modern day.”

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected Hollis’ arguments, categorically noting that “machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”

The court explained that the leading Supreme Court precedent on the right to keep and bear arms, 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, only protected individual handgun possession for “defense of hearth and home.”

“Today … ordinary military weaponry is far more advanced than the weapons typically found at home and used for (self)-defense,” the court said, adding that machine guns are “dangerous and unusual,” and nothing like what militias might have used at the founding of the republic.

“Heller rejected a functionalist interpretation of the Second Amendment premised on the effectiveness of militia service,” the court of appeals said.

Aided by a number of gun rights groups, Hollis had pressed a number of other arguments — that anything that is “ordinary military equipment” is protected, that the Second Amendment really exists to allow a rebellion against the government, and that machine guns aren’t really “dangerous and unusual.”

The 5th Circuit was largely unimpressed, calling the last argument “tantamount to asking us to overrule the Supreme Court.”

We’ve got some major dysfunction in this country that can’t be more clearly represented than by the toxic Trump/Pence ticket.The problem is that a huge portion of our citizenship feels so disenfranchised that they seem to be in search of the end times.  Their viewpoints appear to be funded and shaped by the very folks that are making this happen.  The one thing that’s discouraged me most is that leftists are playing into a similar narrative.

Title: BLADE RUNNER ¥ Pers: SANDERSON, WILLIAM / HANNAH, DARYL ¥ Year: 1982 ¥ Dir: SCOTT, RIDLEY ¥ Ref: BLA040BT ¥ Credit: [ LADD COMPANY/WARNER BROS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

It seems unlikely that Trump will be president.  I’d like to think that Hillary Clinton will be our shero. But, without a full functioning set of government institutions, how are we going to get beyond the Thunderdome? Why are we electing officials whose goal in life appear to be sabotaging our country?  If most people reject Donald Trump, why do we have a Speaker Paul Fucking Ryan whose favorite dystopian fiction writer has an overwhelmingly negative impact our US Policy?

As the GOP convention gets underway in Cleveland today, three national polls released over the weekend showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump: A CNN poll putting Clinton up by 49-42; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll putting her up by 46-41; and a Washington Post/ABC News poll putting her up by 47-43.

But buried beneath the toplines is evidence of another dynamic that gets at something important about the state of this race: While both Clinton and Trump are very unpopular, large majorities in two of these polls believe that only one of them is qualified for the presidency, and equally large majorities believe that the other one is not.

The new WaPo poll finds, for instance, that Americans say by 59-39 that Clinton is “qualified to serve as president,” but they also say by 60-37 that Trump is “not qualified to serve as president.”

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Again, my hope is that Trump/Pence go down yugely and take the likes of Paul Ryan with them. You can’t have one set of them without the others who basically feel the same way but signal their intent with weasel words.

So, obviously, we down here in Louisiana are reeling from all the recent killings.  I think some of the policy prescriptions are obvious otherwise it will be upward and onward with “a bit of the old ultraviolence.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Wednesday Reads: Transphobia 6-5000

Good afternoon.

Yesterday was the IDAHO | DAHOT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. With that in mind let’s take a look at the scene surrounding LGTB issues this week, especially the last few days. As y’all know, it is a “fluid ” situation, one of constant assault from the same forces I discussed in my last post Wednesday Reads: Buckets of what? | Sky Dancing. They are same hypocritical basturds who want to control every aspect of a woman’s autonomy, spirit, and cognitive functions. Shit…we are just going to have to get to it, right?

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia | whitehouse.gov

On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.

At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.‎ In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.

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Obama was not the only world leader who made an official statement yesterday…Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia | Prime Minister of Canada

“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.

“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.

“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.

“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.

“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”

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Meanwhile, reports in Mexico indicate some positive changes may be coming…Mexican President: Legalize Gay Marriage – The Daily Beast

According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.

Obama Marks International Day Against Homophobia And Transphobia: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights – Joe.My.God.

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Countries Celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Aussie cops raise rainbow flags against homophobia and transphobia

Still a long battle ahead for India’s transgender community | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

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Rainbows abound: How the world is celebrating International Day against Homophobia – Firstpost

Meanwhile, here in the USA, things are continuing as expected:

Trans Panicked Lady Yells At Short-Haired Gal In Walmart Restroom, Saves America | Wonkette

In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:

If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

This really lit a fire under my ass today.

Young Woman Harassed In WalMart For Appearing Transgendered | Crooks and Liars

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My state is getting in on the fun:

Transphobia abounds in North Georgia

Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.

Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.

Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.

“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.

Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.

N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.

So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….

School resource officer Walden called transgender people “perverts” and compared them to pedophiles, during public comment that received applause multiple times.

Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.

“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”

Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.

Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”

Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.

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Gooch asks state leaders to take a stand against Obama… | AccessWDUN.com

State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.

“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”

Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.

Georgia leaders blast transgender bathroom rule, stop short of lawsuit | Political Insider blog

Georgia GOP leaders prepare to open front in bathroom war | www.myajc.com

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More news on the LGBT front:

Obama Defends Transgender Directive for School Bathrooms – The New York Times

Alabama lawmaker files bathroom bill – TimesDaily: State Capital

Mother marches through Target decrying retailer’s bathroom policy | www.ajc.com

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Canada Moves to Ban Discrimination Against Transgender People – The New York Times

Sir Ian McKellen: Homophobia in the Commonwealth is a shameful legacy – The i newspaper online iNews

North Carolina’s anti-trans governor is cozy with major polluter | Grist

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Turning back to idiots in politics, hey…this one is not even a part of this country’s political elite!

Peter Dutton says ‘illiterate’ refugees would be ‘taking Australian jobs’ | Australia news | The Guardian  I guess Trump isn’t the only asshole making a name for himself out there, huh?

But hey, that kind of talk is just mainstream nowadays, you want idiot? I got your idiot right here:

Conservative congressional candidate shares screenshot, forgets to close porn windows

Screenshot Mike Webb shared with numerous tabs, including two tabs with porn sites

Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:

“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.

He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:

Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media.  Talk and engage with people.  Joke and chide.  Engage in dialogue.  That is what it is all about.”

Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:

Mike Webb

Oh, my…..

Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:

Lucas McDanielRyan BelkJosh Peake…. Now you know what politicians do in their spare time!! #pumpthebrakesWEBB

Stephen Carroll I like your taste in porn.

Stephen Carroll Hey, that’s probably why you had so many viruses and couldn’t make your FEC filing.

Christopher Allard Oh my good lord! That’s AWESOME!!! Way to go Mike! You posted a screen shot of your computer and left the PORN SITES up??? Wow, ranger that bud! This is definitely going viral!

At least 5 hours after the original post, it remains on this Facebook page. So much for his pledge for responsiveness! The post will no doubt be deleted in time, but it can currently be seen here.

I had to quote the entire post there, it was too unbelievable and fucking prefect not to.

Eschaton: Assholes

Two Boston brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Mexican man, then told police “Donald Trump was right: All these illegals need to be deported,” were sentenced to prison on Monday.

Trump Bros Who Beat Up Homeless Hispanic Guy Going To Prison, How Is That Even Fair? | Wonkette

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BREAKING: ABC Just Caught Trump In Massive Tax Evasion & Campaign Finance Violation

Next up, a series of links on the Nevada/Bernie Bros/From the top directive shit that happened over the last few days:

Shakesville: What Is Even Happening?

I think the key point to all this is:

Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus.

Anyway, the links are below just if anyone missed yesterday’s threads….

Shakesville: Bernie Sanders, What Are You Doing?!

Bernie Sanders Refuses To Admit There’s a Problem With His Fanatical Supporters – The Daily Banter

 

Sanders issues defiant statement under pressure over ruckus (w/video) | Tampa Bay Times

I hate the title of this one: DNC chairwoman chides Sanders | TheHill

Tensions explode in Dem primary | TheHill

To Win in November, Clinton Will Need Sanders’ Voters | RealClearPolitics

This is another title that irks me: Nevada Democrats accused Bernie Sanders’s campaign of inciting violence. And Sanders is hitting back. – The Washington Post

A few other disturbing news stories, not on Bernie but still like I said, disturbing:

Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education – The Washington Post

62 years after ‘Brown vs. Board of Education’ ruling, U.S. schools becoming more segregated | Tampa Bay Times

Tourist Bros Stomp On Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring

Another State Just Banned Abortion After 19 Weeks

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks | Reuters

Teacher fired from Christian school after reporting shocking rape of her daughter

Shoulders and Arms Are Now Illegal in the State of California

The deadly selfie game – the thrill to end all thrills

Oh and what about the Koch Brothers? Hullabaloo– GOP suffering from Koch withdrawal by digby

And I want to end it on something fun…This one is for Boston Boomer, and her keen interest in words and the brain: Words, more words … and statistics: To segment words, the brain could be using statistical methods — ScienceDaily

Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.

Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.

I hope you enjoy that one BB…

Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.

 

 


Wednesday Reads: Composite and Composure 

Good Afternoon

Who know a few album covers could look so dramatic?

The images you will see today are from one of my favorite photo blogs: vintage everyday: Mix and Match – Strange and Amazing Collage Arts from Famous Album Covers of the 1980s and 1990s

Christian Marclay is a Swiss, New York-based modern artist and composer. He came up with an idea to create funny collages from famous album covers.

So enjoy these collages as we look into some non-election news.

A couple of days ago, LG&M had a post that caught my attention…see if you get the same vibe as I did: Clearly, Paying Teachers Peanuts is the Way to Produce Good Teaching – Lawyers, Guns & Money

635633926025679244-TeacherPayMap

I can think of no better way to provide quality education for our students than paying teachers so poorly that they are forced to get 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet, thus giving them no time to prep for class or rest.

Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate — a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout.

“Something has to give, whether it’s your health, your sanity,” McCorkle said. “You just can’t do everything, and you want to be there for your students.”

The SDEA, which represents more than 5,000 teachers in the state, said Daugaard’s proposal is an acknowledgement that South Dakota schools are having trouble hiring and keeping teachers.

The Brookings School District used to get dozens of applications for each open teaching position but now receives resumes from just a handful of qualified candidates, said school board President Steve Bayer. The pool depth is likely dwindling as applicants look across South Dakota’s eastern border to better-paying jobs.

“When you can make another thousand dollars a month as an experienced teacher, it’s probably worth looking at a place in Minnesota,” he said.

South Dakota’s average teacher salary of $40,023 in 2013-14 lagged an average of six states that border it by $11,888 a year and was $8,643 behind the next lowest neighbor, North Dakota, the group found. In some of South Dakota’s more remote areas, that average salary drops quickly.

Now, this next link will take you to the average starting teacher salary per state: NEA – 2012-2013 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State

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And here is a site that give you both starting and general average salaries, which is a bit convoluted to discern.  Teacher Salaries By State | Average Salaries For Teachers | Beginning Salaries For Teachers | Teacher Raises | TeacherPortal.com

Finding accurate beginning and average salaries for teachers by state is a tricky business. In our effort to build the most accurate list of teacher salaries by state, we have averaged the salary from multiple sources, including the National Education Association, job surveys, and private data analyses to create the Salary Comfort Index.

So if you are curious…take a peek at those numbers.

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While on the subject of schools…in South Dakota:

South Dakota Is The First State To Pass A Transphobic Student Bathroom Bill

I will leave that story up to you. Take a gander at the new bill and the logic behind this mess.

The bill was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who has said it seems like a good idea. The measure would mandate that students use facilities corresponding with their “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth,” not the gender with which they identify.

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Next up: The Pope….

He was in Mexico this week.

The Latest: Cleric stresses moral message of Pope at border – The Washington Post

Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis’ acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.

Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he’ll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that “because something has political dimensions it doesn’t mean that it does not also have moral dimensions.

That is sweet…because with the statement the Catholic Church put out on the Zika virus…we don’t want to get into a discussion on Moral Dimensions…or Dilemmas!

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Catholic Leaders Say Zika Doesn’t Change Ban on Contraception – The New York Times

As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk ofbirth defects.

The challenge posed by Zika for the Roman Catholic Churchcomes as Pope Francis is making his first trip to Mexico, where the virus appears to be spreading.

After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.

“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”

He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.

Of course these babies are gifts from Gawd.

This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.

[…]

“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”

But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”

The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delaypregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[…]

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and no cure for microcephaly. The World Health Organization this monthdeclared the Zika epidemic an international public health emergency. The organization advised that women should have full access to a range of contraceptive options, as well as “safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.”

Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.

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Another link on the Zika epidemic….WHO: $56 Million Needed To Combat Zika Virus Through June

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zikavirus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.

The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas, and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.

“Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile for Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in the WHO Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan issued in Geneva.

The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.

Chan will travel to Brazil from Feb 22-24 to review Zika-related measures supported by WHO and will meet the health minister, a WHO spokeswoman said.

The United Nations health agency declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb 1, noting its association with two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.

Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

More at the link.

Just a question…and it is a offensive one at that…since my life is defined by classic film and movies, the flick “Freaks!” (Yeah, I’m going there.) Didn’t the pinheads suffer from microcephaly? Innit that the same thing as this Zika virus? NWLuna? School me right!

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Shit, I said I wasn’t going to mention the idiots of the election: Trump Surrogate Blows Up Panel Discussion By Referring To ‘Big Boobs’ | Crooks and Liars

There is a reason for this…I promise.

Nothing says 2016 political discourse like a Trump surrogate and supporter calling out another panelist’s “big boobs” on Fox Business. I’m pretty sure all those stock market geeks tuning into Fox Biz were delighted by it.

Transcript viaMediaite:

Manigault: Yes, so let’s talk about Iraq and let’s talk about Donald Trump’s position. When Ta-mah-ra says that Donald Trump’s–

Holder: Tah-mara. It’s Tah-mara.

Manigault: It’s the same difference. You want to come on with big boobs, then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look. Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq —

Baritromo: Wait a second! Why are you bringing up Tamara’s boobs? I don’t understand why you brought up Tamara’s boobs.

The C&L post makes a point about why the mention of boobs is made:

Poor Maria just cannot understand. It’s because it gets attention, Maria! Mention boobs and every man watching looks up from his otherwise boring work to see what the catfight is all about.

Of course, it’s also crass and sexist but that’s what Trump’s campaign embodies. And who better than Omarosa to speak for Trump about some other woman’s breasts?

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I think it is just a carry over of the Sexist and Misogynistic culture (as related to rape culture) that is allowed to flourish as Sexual Harassment in our high school’s and college’s locker rooms…as discussed in this article from Deadspin: How Tennessee’s Sexual Harassment Allegations Caught Up With Peyton Manning 20 Years Later

This is a very long read, I know that BB has written post on Manning before, but please take some time and look it over.

In 1996, the summer before Peyton Manning’s junior season at the University of Tennessee, with his Vols a national championship contender, associate trainer Jamie Whited—later Jamie Naughright, after her divorce—filed an employment discrimination complaint. In that complaint, filed with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she listed 27 specific examples of sexual harassment and discrimination she claimed to have experienced while working for Tennessee’s athletics department.

Athletes, she said, called her breasts “midgets.” One athlete called the women at the sexual assault crisis center center “white ‘male hating’ females.” And her concerns about violence by athletes toward women were “played down by my supervisors, and an effort was made to shield the student athletes.”

It was accusation No. 27 that lives on, though. An unnamed athlete, later identified as Peyton Manning, “pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several questions.”

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“Despite the above referenced complaints,” her filing said, “no effective remedial action has been taken by coaches, or other supervisor personnel. Instead complaints of sexual harassment are treated as jokes and efforts are made to protect the student athletes, and cover-up the complaint.”

Naughright settled with Tennessee. The investigative report on her allegations, compiled by Tennessee’s Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Resources (DRES) repeatedly finds that she was “not subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct,” and that “many of the individual allegations involved conduct that was not sexual in nature.” Her accusation against Manning seemed destined to become another incident written off as a young man’s foolishness.

Her claims and the investigative findings read differently, though, in the context of a wide-reaching Title IX lawsuit recently filed against the University of Tennessee, which describes Tennessee as having cultivated a “deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment.” So, too, does her long legal history with Manning, recently brought back to public attention by the Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman and bythe New York Daily News’s Shaun King publishing a 74-page “facts of the case”from Naughright’s 2002 defamation suit against Manning. That document outlines, from the perspective of her lawyers, a claim that the Manning family and Tennessee essentially covered up a case of sexual assault to protect the star quarterback.

It will get you going…be prepared for the usual excuses and typical outcomes.

Let us see if the new combat roles for women change the way the military works…Exclusive: Report shows Marines’ shifting approach to women in combat – CSMonitor.com

The Marines have long been resistant to including women in combat units. But a Pentagon document obtained by the Monitor offers a more optimistic view.

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 Check it out…details emerge on the new airline plans for Cuba:

U.S., Cuba sign civil aviation accord in Havana as Cuba’s foreign trade minister visits Washington | Miami Herald

I always loved the way this man’s name sounded when I was a kid…now comes news of his death: United Nations News Centre – UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Another death, this time an actor. You may remember him in Tootsie and Mel Brooks To Be or Not To Be: George Gaynes Dead: ‘Police Academy’ Star Dies at 98 – Hollywood Reporter

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The rest in link dump format, because it is really getting late:

Apple CEO Tim Cook opposes court order to help FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Global food production needs ‘significant’ fertiliser boost – BBC News– This talks about the phosphate shortage. In Florida, you could spot a phosphate mine miles away. (Well, I don’t know about technically miles…but damn if you could not see them from across the bay.) Our science class would have field trips inside those mountain valley holes to look for fossils. Anyway, give that link a moment of your time.

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Scalia’s Death Might Have Saved Abortion Rights | Mother Jones

Survival Mode: Growing Up With Violence – Al Jazeera English

CDC investigates why so many students in wealthy Palo Alto, Calif., commit suicide – The Washington Post

U.S. Health Officials Are Finally Paying Attention To Palo Alto School Suicides

Teen suicide clusters in Palo Alto: Is media attention at fault? – CSMonitor.com

Let’s end it with two videos….

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Voting (HBO) – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHFOwlMCdto

Syrian Refugees Part 1 | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5y70oKbAKY

This is an open thread..post what you want…

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Wednesday Evening: Yup, Even Squirrel Topped Trump Finds A Nut 

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Evening

This is going to be quick and to the point. I am in a bad mood and probably should not be making any statements on these matters, because I’m not gonna be logical or even coherent…I’m just gonna be someone who is tired of all the shit.

I’m gonna pretty much tell Sanders and his league of misogynistic twats to fuck off.

(That includes Bernie’s women supporters too…cause if they still are gun ho…yeah, I said gun…after all the shit he has said the past 48 hours, they are in a true sense. The Ladies Auxiliary of Cunts in Sander’s League of Misogynistic Twats.)

Wait, I have to put this quote up…my very favorite of course:

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So by know you probably know what I am talking about.

 

 

Sanders dismisses major women’s group as ‘establishment’ | MSNBC

Asked by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday evening about the fact that Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Clinton, Sanders replied, “We’re taking on not only Wall Street and the economic establishment, we’re taking on the political establishment. So I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund [sic], in Planned Parenthood. But you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time and some of these groups are part of the establishment.”

Hillary’s response:

 

 

Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards,tweeted, “disappointing to hear this.” The Planned Parenthood Action Fund tweeted, “We respect @SenSanders. Disappointed to be called “establishment” as we fight like hell to protect women’s health.” HRC echoed the remarks:

 

 

Jessica Morales Rocketto, the Clinton campaign’s digital organizing director, elaborated on her own Twitter account why the campaign took offense.

 

 

NARAL’s president, Ilyse Hogue, also weighed in on a call with reporters. She praised Clinton for “not just committing to expanding funding for Planned Parenthood, but also to take on the Hyde amendment, which is nothing more than discrimination against low income women trying to access vital health care and their constitutional rights …. Unfortunately, directly in opposition to Bernie’s unfortunate comments last night on Rachel Maddow, the anti-choice minority has become the establishment at state legislatures and is becoming the establishment at our federal level.”

In an interview with NBC News, Sen. Claire McCaskill, another Clinton surrogate, said, “I think that for Planned Parenthood, or NARAL, or the Human Rights Campaign to be considered the establishment, someone’s not paying close attention to the way American politics works.”

As far as the Sander’s campaign…this is what Bernie’s campaign had to say:

 

 

 

Earlier on Tuesday, Sanders campaign Michael Briggs responded to the Human Rights Campaign’s Clinton endorsement by saying, “It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record.”

Asked by MSNBC if the Sanders campaign wanted to clarify his remarks on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Briggs said, “He said it better than I could.”

 

Peter Daou had more to say:

 

 

 

 

 

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Other links:

Bernie Sanders attacks Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign after they endorse Hillary —www.dailynewsbin.com/opinion/bernie-sanders-attacks-planned-parenthood-and-human-rights-campaign-after-they-fail-to-endorse-him/23614/

Now that they’ve both endorsed his opponent, Bernie Sanders is openly attacking two of the most widely respected groups fighting for the liberal causes he claims to believe in. Earlier this month leading women’s health group Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, and this week leading LGBT rights group the Human Rights Campaign did the same. In response, Sanders went on national television and accused both groups of being part of the “establishment” that his campaign is fighting against.

It’s an almost inexplicable turn of events for candidate who insisted all along that he didn’t engage in “personal attacks” and was only interested in focusing on the issues. But in the past week Bernie Sanders has referred to Bill Clinton as “deplorable” while comparing Hillary Clinton to Dick Cheney, thus abandoning the high road in favor of the lowest personal attacks he can think of. And now, he’s not merely attacking his opponent or his opponent’s spouse. He appears to have concluded that anyone who doesn’t endorse his campaign it the enemy and must be destroyed, issues be damned. What on earth happened?

With Bernie Sanders As Their Nominee, Democrats Can Kiss The Presidency Goodbye – Blue Nation Review

 

 

Bernie Sanders calls Planned Parenthood part of the “political establishment.” | New Republic

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Hillary Clinton hits Bernie Sanders over Planned Parenthood comments – CNNPolitics.com

 

I copied this from Dakinikat’s Facebook page. I thought it was excellent response:

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I really believe that the true Bernie Sanders is showing himself. I’ve felt all along the dude was off when it came to women’s issues. There was something about him, can’t specifically say what, but it rubbed me the wrong way.

He never has stood up to his asshole sexist supporters who lob those awful remarks Hillary’s way.

 

Ben Ferguson on Twitter I want BernieSanders to beat Hillary so bad it s almost unhealthy 😳

 

That is nothing…y’all have seen worse shit out there.

Oh, there are other examples that we have discussed here many times. Like I’ve said. I am in a bad mood and too pissy to go into details.

 

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To me that is the typical Bernie supporter. And I would bet money that is also how Sanders feels himself…to some extent.

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Just a couple thoughts there….

As for the idiot with the squirrel’s ass on top of his head:

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That says it all!


Wednesday Make-Up: A Laugh and Two, Ending on a Sharp Note.

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Uh, Boy!

 

I slacked off on Friday…with Christmas and all…there was no Friday Nite Lite thread. Well, I will make-up for it now with a comic filled post. I’ll throw some links in that you might find interesting.

 

 

12/29/2015 Cartoon by John R. Rose

Cartoon by John R. Rose -

 

Trump Cards: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Trump Cards

 

This next one is a local NC cartoon, but the same could be said for the GOP asswipes in any double red State:  12/29/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

 

In Louisiana and several other states: 30,000 Louisianans Scheduled to Lose Food Stamps | Al Jazeera America

Joanika Davis relies on the $194 per month she receives in food stamp benefits every month to help her get by as she searches for employment.

But on Jan. 1, Davis is set to lose that financial lifeline — one of approximately 31,000 Louisianians set to suffer as a result of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to reinstate the work requirement for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in his state.

SNAP rules typically allow full benefits to single able-bodied adults only if they have jobs or are enrolled in a job-training program. Otherwise, they may access food stamp benefits for no more than three months every three years. States with high unemployment can apply for a federal waiver, dropping that work requirement and allowing single adults to access full benefits regardless of their job status.

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, nearly every state in the country sought and was granted a federal waiver at some point. But recently, a number of states with Republican governors have allowed their waivers to expire, citing improved economic circumstances and a desire to get their food stamp recipients back to work. Jindal, a Republican, allowed Louisiana’s waiver to lapse on Oct. 1.

“We continue to seek opportunities for SNAP recipients to increase their self-sufficiency. Engaging in work activities is a key step in that transition,” said Suzy Sonnier, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services, in a Sept. 30 statement.

Starting in January, Davis, who told Al Jazeera that she is still hunting for a job, will have to find ways to make up a monthly shortfall of nearly $200. “Why should I have to fight for food right now?” she asked. “Why should I have to fight to drink water?”

And it is not only people in Louisiana who are losing out.

Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming have recently allowed the work requirement to be reimposed, leaving 28 states with their food stamp waivers intact in fiscal year 2016.

The people affected by the reinstatement of the work requirement tend to be among the poorest of the poor, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an economic think tank. In 2014 able-bodied, childless, unemployed adults on food stamps had an average of $2,200 in gross income, the center found.

It also found that states that reimpose the work requirement tend to see a sudden sharp drop in SNAP participants, suggesting that thousands of unemployed recipients are unable to find work and maintain their eligibility.

“The idea that anybody is choosing not to work because of $190 dollars a month in food stamps — that’s really kind of a stereotype,” said Steve Spires, a senior policy analyst for the Louisiana Budget Project. “The reality is a lot of people want to work. There simply aren’t jobs…”

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

On the latest Trump news: 25% of Donald Trump’s political spending goes to his own companies – Quartz

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Donald Trump told Fortune in 2000, during his first abortive run for president.

He was referring to a $1 million motivational speaking deal he got from Tony Robbins that he timed to coincide with his campaign stops. Then, he didn’t dominate the headlines—apparently the Clinton-Bush-Gore psychodrama was more compelling—and Trump’s greatest accomplishment was winning the Reform party nomination in California with a scant 15,311 votes. (His bon mots haven’t changed much—Fortune refers to “his usual critiques of Pat Buchanan (‘a Hitler lover’), Bill Bradley (‘a total disaster’), George W. Bush (‘no Einstein’), Fidel Castro (‘a bad guy’), North Korea (‘run by some very bad people’), and Russia (‘totally mixed up’).”)

This time around, as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, he operates on a more rarified and lucrative plane: Trump’s companies have already earned $1.4 million from his campaign.

The billionaire builder often argues that his wealth guarantees his political independence, and describes his campaign as “self-funding.” That’s no longer true: While he was the main source of campaign funds during the early part of his run, the most recent financial disclosures through the end of September 2015, show Trump put less money into his campaign than his donors—and he stands to profit in particular from their backing.

Like the article says…”Follow the money.” And read the rest at the link.

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone

12/29/2015 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

The storms this Christmas have been terrible….The Mississippi River Is About to Have a Record Flood Completely Out of Season

The Mississippi River is flooding in a big way right now, at the wrong time of year, and is forecasted to match or break 22-year-old crest records over the next few days. Meteorologists are calling it “insane.”

Over the next three to four days, the Mississippi is predicted to reach a crest height of 49.7 feet at Chester, Illinois, one of several locations where the National Weather Service records data about the river. As of Tuesday afternoon, the river has already risen to 40.8 feet. According to Taylor Trogdon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Memphis, that is an “absolutely remarkable” forecast.

 

The “great flood of 1993,” as it has come to be known, was “one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States,” according to a National Weather Service hydrologist, writing in 1996. “Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months.”

TRUMPNADO: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

JEB RESOLUTION: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - JEB RESOLUTION

NAUGHTY LIST: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - NAUGHTY LIST

THE DONALD: 12/17/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - THE DONALD

Cruz’s Daughters: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cruz's Daughters

 

A few links regarding Cruz:

Cruz supporters are just as bonkers as Trump’s: Obama ‘ruined our country, ruined Christmas’

A woman spoke to C-SPAN at a recent Cruz rally in Mechanicsville, Virginia, where she explained that she intended to vote for the Texas Republican to drive President Barack Obama, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term, from office.

“I don’t like Obama no more,” the woman explained. “He’s ruined our country, ruined Christmas. He’s let the Muslims in. We can’t say that word, we’ve got to be ashamed of it — and we’re not ashamed people. We’re a proud people, and we’re gonna take our country back. So watch out, Obama! We’re coming.”

The reporter asked the woman to explain how Obama had ruined Christmas.

“He’s scared the little children,” she said. “They’re not allowed to have Santa Claus in the schools where, you know, it might offend the Muslims. But what about us?”

The woman’s loopy rant was reminiscent of remarks made earlier this month by Trump supporter Susan DeLemus, a New Hampshire state representative, during a CNN focus group.

“We’ve got people in positions of power who I know for a fact are liars. Liars!” DeLemus said. “I watch the TV — My president comes on the TV and he lies to me! I know he’s lying. He lies all the time.”

Cruz himself is a nut:

Via Conservative Tribune. com (I won’t quote the thing cause I don’t want any crazy Cruz troll nuts here making trouble…) you can look it up by the title of the article: Ted Cruz Issues Huge Statement on What the Bible Says About Killing Muslims… This Is Brutal

Sen. Ted Cruz said that he would not be violating his Christian faith if he followed through on his vow to “carpet bomb” Islamic State group militants — a statement that’s sure to upset liberals across the country.

The Texas Republican and presidential candidate told Newsmax Wednesday: ”Let’s be clear, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ which is different from ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

“Defending yourself is an obligation of any president. It is not murder,” Cruz added in the interview with Ed Berliner on “The Hard Line.”

What the fuck is that? Justified killing for “Jesus.” Sounds like what a religious zealot says after shooting and killing a bunch of innocent people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

But wait there is more:

Cruz pointed out that while America killed Nazis in World War II, it wasn’t murder.

“When you have the face of evil that has declared war … then it is the essence of duty to defend your nation, to defend the innocent,” he said. “When it comes to jihadists, they have declared war on us, and that’s what President Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to acknowledge.”

The leader of the United States should fight radical Islam the same way President Ronald Reagan fought the Soviets when bringing an end to the Cold War, Cruz said. Reagan aimed his foreign policy around the notion of defeating communism — a strategy of “we win, they lose.”

Reagan “championed tax reform and regulatory reform,” Cruz said, which “unchained the American economy.” The economic growth that resulted from from his reform allowed the former president to rebuild the military and challenge Soviet communism “on every front, strategically we bankrupted the Soviet Union and won the Cold War.”

There is recorded sound from the interview at the conservative tribune link…if you must hear it. Five fucking minutes of this shit. Of course the CT (cuntservative tribune) is all hard for Cruz.

Speaking of Reagan…up next, a link sent to me from Boston Boomer: Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed” – Salon.com

Reagan embarrassed himself in news conferences, Cabinet meetings. Recalling how GOP cringed at his lack of interest

I always thought Reagan was much further gone with Alzheimer’s than we’re all led on now to believe…if that makes any sense. (As I am probably in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s myself.)

For BB: The Six Most Interesting Psychology Papers of 2015 – The New Yorker

I thought many of you would find this a good read: Sudan’s midwives take on Female Genital Mutilation

And this: 15 Remarkable Women of Color Who Rocked 2015 | Colorlines

This little tidbit: 8 Crazy Cuban New Year’s Eve Traditions — My Big Fat Cuban Family: A Cuban-American Blog

My Granny would throw a bucket of water out the back door, to wash away the bad luck from the last year…I don’t remember if it was dirty water or not.  Actually…I think she would toss a big pot of water. (One of her big cooking pots full…) So it would not be “dirty” and maybe that is why it never worked? She always had terrible luck…

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates

12/26/2015 Cartoon by John Branch

Cartoon by John Branch -

Trump’s Flying Monkeys: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Trump's Flying Monkeys

 

After U.S. Refuses Entry To British Muslims, Indian Students Are Being Turned Away In Droves | ThinkProgress

Twenty Indian students carrying valid student visas for colleges in California were denied entry in Chicago and put on planes back to India on Sunday, following other incidents of the U.S. turning away people from certain countries.

The U.S. is in a heightened state of vigilance since the terror attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California. One of the shooters in San Bernardino came in on a fiance visa, prompting concern that potential terrorists could find loopholes to enter the country on valid visas or through the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of friendly countries to visit the United States without visas.

Some foreigners have already been barred from entering the country without being told why. Last week, a British Muslim family planning a trip to Disneyland was told by United Kingdom border officials that they wouldn’t be allowed to board a plane to the United States. Another 20 British Muslim families were reportedly denied entry into the United States without explanation.

 

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Present Danger: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Present Danger

Jingle Trump: 12/22/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Jingle Trump

All Purpose Hate Speech: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Monte Wolverton

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - All Purpose Hate Speech

So Long to the Year of Trump: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - So Long to the Year of Trump

From Riese via AutoStraddle.com: Our Picks For 2015’s Best Longform By Women

Hey, so, maybe you’ve heard about this gender byline gap? Like how in print, men make up about 62% of bylines in the most widely circulated newspapers, and 58% of those at the top four online news sites, (according to the Women’s Media Center). Or how women head fewer major US newspapers today than they did 10 years ago and are underrepresented in op-eds, book reviews and photojournalism. Or maybe you read that article by Dayna Evans on Matter about the otherwise progressive Gawker Media’s treatment of women, which noted that if Jezebel was excluded from the company’s editorial statistics, its staff would be 28% female. (It’s 38% female with Jezebel included.) Perhaps you’re aware that racial diversity in media is even worse — people of color account for only 13.34% of journalists at daily newspapers.

I’ve been assembling weekly, and then bi-weekly, lists of the web’s best longform for Autostraddle for four years now, and because of all those reasons above (and because we love women around here), I wanted to do a year-end round-up of the best longform written by women. I qualified “longform” as containing 3,000 words or more, but there are ten or so articles I included despite falling under that word count. I wanted a racially diverse group of writers and I wanted to represent as many independent and women’s publications as possible — which was tougher than I’d hoped, as most mainstream women’s magazines and even some of the most hyped new media sites for women rarely publish articles over 2,000 words. Independent women’s publications, like ours, face serious budget constraints when it comes to commissioning longer pieces outside of personal essays. But even well-funded properties go light on women’s longform; it remains far easier to find longform by women in major men’s magazines like GQ and Esquire than their female counterparts, like Elle and Vogue. As Amanda Hess wrote in Slate following a controversy regarding a male-dominated Port Magazine feature about the future of print media, “I hope we can also take this opportunity to question why women’s writing is aligned so heavily with personal essays and service journalism — the forms that are the cheapest and ad-friendliest to produce.”

That being said, it wasn’t hard to find women writing amazing shit all over the internet. Longreadswas an incredible resource for me when putting this together, and if you don’t follow them, you really ought to. Specifically, Emily Perper does some incredible work over there. And although I remain bitter that Longform.org has yet to include our site on their app or website, I’m madly in love with their app and their website, and have been for years.

In some of the reporting pieces, men also were writers of the piece. I only selected a piece that had men involved if there were equal or more women involved.

In other news dealing with Women and GLBT’s Issues:

Hospital Refuses Pregnancy-Related Care Again Because of Religious Directives | American Civil Liberties Union  Another Catholic Hospital..

Religious Universities Get Exemption to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students, Faculty

Forty-three religious universities applied for waivers in 2015 that will allow them to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Department of Education approved twenty-two of those requests, and the rest remain pending,BuzzFeed reported.

The number of schools seeking these waivers has spiked in recent years, jumping from one school in 2012 to 43 this year, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

Another story not getting much notice: Manning: Healing Continues 125 Years After Wounded Knee Massacre – ICTMN.com

This year marks the 125thanniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre. On December 29, 1890, as many as 300 innocent and unarmed Lakota men, women, children, infants, and elders were gunned down by the United States 7thCavalry at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. After the bloodshed, Chief Big Foot (Spotted Elk) and his band lie dead in the snow where they remained frozen for three days, until all were buried in a mass grave.

For decades, the Wounded Knee massacre was masqueraded as a battle, and marked in many American history books as such. A few months following the massacre, the United States government awarded 20 troops of the U.S. 7thCavalry with the Medal of Honor, and to this day, those medals have yet to be rescinded.

 

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/23/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Tim Eagan

Cartoon by Tim Eagan -

Now some other links…Science, History and Art, oh…and a huge ass natural gas leak in California:

Training The Immune System To Fight Cancer Has 19th-Century Roots : Shots – Health News : NPR

Ancient DNA sheds light on Irish origins – BBC News

Genetic Study Traces the Origins of the Irish – Archaeology Magazine

Fishermen Report Medieval Shipwreck Off Italy’s Southern Coast – Archaeology Magazine

We Ask Some Art World Luminaries to Pick the Best & Worst of 2015

Here’s what the English language sounded like 500 years ago

“Unstoppable” California gas leak being called worst catastrophe since BP spill

 

Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no signs of stopping,” as according to the California Air Resources Board, methane – a greenhouse gas 72 times more impactful in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – has been escaping from the Aliso Canyon site with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption” for about two months now.

New infrared footage exposes the massive leak…

Go to link to see that video…also looks like Erin Brockovich is working on this…

Infographic of leak (and potential solution)

As TheAntiMedia.org’s Claire Bernish details, methane gas continues spewing, unchecked, into the air over southern California from a fractured well to an underground storage site — at such an alarming rate that low-flying planes have necessarily been diverted by the FAA, lest internal combustion engines meet highly volatile gas and, well, blow the entire area to hell.  

This is, indeed, the biggest environmental catastrophe since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; and for now, there is no way to stop it.

This methane disaster is worse than can be sufficiently described in words, because while it’s estimated well over 100,000 pounds of methane spew into the atmosphere every hour, the leak can’t be halted, at least until spring. Even then, that stoppage depends entirely on the efficacy of a proposed fix — which remains a dubiously open question.

Yeah, I am ending it on that disturbing note. There is plenty more at the link…it is a very long read. (I will say it is via a website called intellihub.com. I am not familiar with that site, however…they do quote from reliable sources i.e. LATimes, CBS News, NY Daily News, court documents etc., which you can also verify by clicking those links within the article itself.)  In fact I would also suggest you read the comments…it may lead you to research into more natural gas leaks you can look up on Google…some fun for ya on the crust of the shitty year “2015” as we head over the cusp of the new year “2016.”

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Ann Cleaves

Cartoon by Ann Cleaves -

 

That does it for this Wednesday’s post…y’all enjoy this last couple of days of 2015!

What is going on in your part of the world? This is an open thread…


Lazy Saturday Reads: Another Domestic Terrorist Attack

People are escorted away after a deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding multiple people. (Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP)

People are escorted away after a deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. A gunman opened fire at the clinic on Friday, authorities said, wounding multiple people. (Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP)

Good Morning!!

A terrorist is in custody after he attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado yesterday, but not before he murdered a policeman and two “civilians” and injured nine more people. As we’re all aware, Colorado Springs is a hotbed of right wing “Christian” evangelical groups.

Here’s the latest from Reuters: Police name suspect in Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting.

The suspect in a deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was named on Saturday as Robert L. Dear, 57, the Colorado Springs Police public affairs’ section said in a Tweet.

The gunman who stormed the clinic on Friday killed three people and wounded nine others before surrendering to police after a bloody siege lasting several hours inside the facility, authorities said.

Local news media reported that Dear was being held without bail.

Robert L. Dear mugshot

Robert L. Dear mugshot

As police traded gunfire with Dear, people in local businesses were told to shelter in place.

The rampage, which took place at a clinic that provides women’s health services including abortions, was believed to be the first fatal attack on a U.S. abortion provider in six years. Police have not discussed the suspect’s motives.

The assailant in Colorado Springs, Colorado’s second largest city, was armed with a rifle when he entered the clinic – a site repeatedly targeted for protests by anti-abortion activists – and opened fire shortly before noon on Friday, authorities said.

Police swarming the scene pursued the assailant into the building, trading gunfire with the suspect as authorities tracked their movements from room to room by watching live video feeds from security cameras mounted inside.

Officers closing in on the gunman managed to finally talk him into giving himself up inside, and he was taken into custody more than five hours after the violence began.

Planned Parenthood released a statement in response to the terrorist attack on their clinic in Colorado Springs.

“The heart of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) is broken tonight as we try to make sense of the horrific tragedy that struck our beloved health center in Colorado Springs, today. Our thoughts are with the all those who were impacted and particularly the families of the two civilians and one heroic law-enforcement officer whose lives were lost. We are grateful to report that all our staff are safe and accounted for and are hoping for the best possible outcomes for the others wounded in this attack.

“We are thankful to our security personnel and to the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, and the UCCS campus officers, who came to our aid and served with such selfless valor. Their fast response, strength, and bravery undoubtedly saved countless lives today. We also appreciate that our Colorado Springs staff responded quickly following our security protocols.

“The information regarding the gunman’s motive remains unknown as does whether Planned Parenthood was targeted deliberately. PPRM’s top priority will always be the safety of our patients and staff. We maintain strong security measures and always work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure our very strong safety record.

“We share the concerns of many Americans that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients, as well as law enforcement officers, is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence. But, we will never back away from providing critical health care to millions of people who rely on and trust us every day.

Robert L. Dear in handcuffs after shooting rampage.

Robert L. Dear in handcuffs after shooting rampage.

Read the rest at the link. I think we can guess Dear’s motive, but I suppose we’ll have to wait to know for sure.

President Obama also released a statement.

Business Insider: ‘This is not normal’: Obama releases emotional statement on Planned Parenthood shooting.

President Barack Obama released a statement on Saturday calling for gun control in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the day before.

“This is not normal,” Obama said. “We can’t let it become normal.”

He then called to curtail the “easy accessibility of weapons of war” for some people.

“If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them,” Obama continued.

“Period,” he added. “Enough is enough.”

Unfortunately these mass shootings have become regular events in the U.S. That is our “normal” now.

718

The media has been uncharacteristically hesitant to speculate on Dear’s motive.

USA Today: Gunman’s motive in Planned Parenthood shootings unclear.

Police were trying to determine Saturday why a middle-aged gunman in hunting gear allegedly went on a wild shooting spree inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing three people, including a police officer.

The suspect, identified as Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina, surrendered to officers after a five-hour ordeal Friday in which he fired randomly at people in the clinic and roamed the halls shooting through walls with an assault-style rifle.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,”

You’d think by this time reporters could have found out some information about this guy, wouldn’t you? Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of good information in the USA Today article.

One Republican Congressman demanded an apology from Planned Parenthood head Vicki Cowart while the attack was still ongoing. Tommy Christopher at Mediaite:

Police have finally taken a shooter into custody after the five-hour siege at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs that has left at least three people dead, including one police officer. 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.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger

Rep. Adam Kinzinger

That 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 [see Planned Parenthood statement excerpted earlier in this post] 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’s some background on Garrett Swasey, the police officer who was killed in the shootout. CNN via KTXS ABC 12: Slain officer was once champion skater.

Swasey, 44, was one of three people killed Friday when a gunman attacked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

The married father worked for the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and was on campus Friday morning when the shooting started 10 miles away. He rushed to the scene to support a city police officer who was under fire, the university said in a statement….

Officer Garrett Swasey

Officer Garrett Swasey

Swasey had been with university police for six years, authorities said. But long before that, he was a junior national couples ice dancing champion, The Denver Post reported.

He and his partner won the junior national championship in Orlando in 1992, the paper cited university spokesman Jared Verner as saying. A few years after the championship win, Swasey performed in a musical skating show in Maine.

As the community mourns the fallen officer, the University of Colorado football team will observe a moment of silence during its game Saturday.

I’ll end with this piece from Mother Jones: The New, Ugly Surge in Violence and Threats Against Abortion Providers.

Three people were shot dead and nine injured Friday at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, the first time since 2009 that anyone has been killed in an incident linked to activity at an abortion clinic. The attack comes amid an exponential increase in threats and violence against abortion providers since the release of a series of viral—and widelydebunked—videos.

While police have not discussed the alleged motives of the suspect, who has been arrested, the attack began at the clinic. According to authorities the gunman entered the facility Friday afternoon and began shooting. During an hours-long standoff, he exchanged fire with police, killing one officer.

Since the release of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood selling fetal issue, harassment, threats, and attacks against abortion providers, their staff, and facilities have surged dramatically across the country, according to new numbers from the National Abortion Federation.

The clinic attacked on Friday is part of the Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains affiliate, which was featured in the Center for Medical Progress’ videos.

“Since the series of highly-edited, misleading anti-abortion videos was released in July, we have seen an unprecedented increase in hate speech and threats against abortion providers” says Vicki Saporta, the president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, which has been tracking violence against providers since the 1970s.

“We have been quite worried that this increase in threats would lead to a violent attack like we saw” on Friday, she added.

Please go read the whole thing at Mother Jones.

What else is happening? I hope to see your thoughts and links in the comment thread.


Monday Reads

Well, it’s Monday again!

I thought I’d highlight two women’s attempts to get “justice” today. One woman didn’t really get her day in court. The other one has overstayed her time in court. For that matter, she’s overstayed her 15 seconds of infamy. biden-stays-on-message

The reason that I would never vote for Joe Biden for President can be summed up by one woman’s name: Anita Hill. I will never ever forget his role that led to the seating of Uncle Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Here’s a reminder for all of us.

It’s hard to know, but the reason Thomas is sitting silently on the Supreme Court – for 22 years and counting – can be traced back to Biden. If you’ve seen the new documentary, “Anita,” it jogs your memory clearly and cleanly regarding what went down. Of all the Senate Democrats, Biden failed most miserably. The close 52 to 48 vote might have broken differently if he had displayed grit under fire.

Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, authors of “Strange Justice,” note Biden was pleased with his “highly unusual exposure rate” after it was all over. Sorry, but Biden is a bit too easily flattered and fooled.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was a searing experience building to a crescendo over several days. As chairman, Biden virtually handed the gavel to Thomas at a critical point. He allowed three senators – Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson and the late Arlen Spector – to viciously besmirch Anita Hill, a painstakingly proper law professor who came forward to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed her with lewd language and social invitations as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In the documentary, Hill emerges content with a new lease of life, with no regrets about telling her truth. As the documentary points out, it became a question of her character on trial, when Thomas was the subject of the hearing and often out of the room. When he came back, he furiously declared the hearing a “high tech lynching,” a statement that rocked the row of senators into silence. Of course, even if it was wrong, this hostility packed quite a punch.

The coup de grace was accompanied by Biden’s nervous assurances: “You have the benefit of the doubt, Judge.” There was no legal precedent for such a claim on truth or guilt in a Supreme Court hearing. But Biden kept saying that fateful phrase on national television. The late Sen. Robert C. Byrd challenged Biden publicly by saying the country should have the benefit of the doubt. Byrd was a lone voice in the wind, which was blowing Thomas’s way.

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We owe some of the worst Supreme Court Decisions ever to the seating of this rubber stamp of right wing religious pomposity and anti-intellectualism. This brings me to another woman who is a wholesale tool of the same faction of right wing whackadoos.

It seems we will never be rid of Kim Davis whose exit from jail last week was one of the most appalling displays of a woman on some kind of high or with some serious emotional issue being enabled by men that should be held to account. People were fat shaming and slut slamming her, but has any one really looked at that drugged out look on her face recently? She looks like a woman possessed by many demons.

Her lawyers are filing yet another frivilous suit and she’s started work this morning announcing that no one has the right to do any thing with marriage licenses in her office because of her “conscience” which seems to pick and choose which sentences in her version of the new testament are worthy.  It may be time for officials in Kentucky to ask for Rule 11 sanctions against her attorneys as well as throw Miss “I’m above the law” back in jail.  She doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not her but her position that’s issuing the license. She’s an interchangeable cog that needs to be changed.

Her lawyers are actually challenging Scalia’s written opinion that it’s not her free speech here but the speech of her position and the government she serves. But then, she’s got lawyers that are on some kind of jihad and it’s evident that she’s along for the ride. It’s getting difficult to hear her ramblings and pronouncements.   Rule 11 holds attornies responsible for frivolous lawsuits and it’s time to give it some serious thought.

Kentucky clerk Kim Davis returned to work this morning for the first time since being jailed for disobeying a judge’s order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, saying she wants her name and title removed from the licenses currently being issued by her office.

Choking back tears at a news conference before her return to work, a defiant Davis said she is faced with a “seemingly impossible choice … my conscience or my freedom,” referring to her opposition to same-sex marriages.

“I’m no hero,” she added.

That last statement is the most truthful thing she’s said the entire time. Watching her these days is definitely like watching some one under the influence of a powerful drug or mental illness.  If she really thinks that she’s doing any justice to her religion then she’s sorely mistaken.  She’s also saying that her deputies have no authorization to issue “authorized” licenses and that they’re not really being authentically issued based on this latest friviolous lawsuits despite what Kentucky laws says.  Again, it’s time to hold her lawyers accountable and get her off center stage.

Despite her assertion that her deputies don’t have her authority to issue marriage licenses, Rowan County Deputy Clerk Brian Mason issued a license this morning to the first same-sex couple to apply after Davis’ return to the office. Davis never left her office during the process.

Davis also told reporters this morning that she wants the licenses to indicate that they are being issued under federal authority.

She returned to work today nearly one week after being released from jail for failing to issue marriage licenses over her religious objection to same-sex marriage.

Davis filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses. If the court does not respond before Davis returns to work, she will have to choose whether to allow her office to continue issuing licenses or again disobey the judge who already sent her to jail.

This is getting ridiculous.  This is exacty what Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote about in her dissenting opinion in the Hobby Lobby Case.  We’re beginning to see our courts stack up with the our country suffering fools gladly.

The exchange between the two Justices gets to the heart of the issue in Hobby Lobby. When do religious convictions allow individuals (or corporations) to excuse themselves from obligations that are binding on everyone else?

A sampling of court actions since Hobby Lobby suggests that Ginsburg has the better of the argument. She was right: the decision is opening the door for the religiously observant to claim privileges that are not available to anyone else.

What we have here is that the same people that once said that granting any civil rights to the GLBT community was basically setting up special privileges that are now clogging up the courts asking for special privileges.   It’s also funny that one of the big causes Republicans is their jihad against trial lawyers and frivolous law suits, yet this is exactly the fruit of the frivioulous lawsuit poison tree.

168754_600It’s important to realize exactly what a state religion does to its minorities.  I’m going to use a real case of Christians being treated radically different. This example is how Israel treats its Christian minority. The answer is very unfairly. The Pope has issued a complaint.  Hopefully, some one else will notice this cause and do something about a real instance of injustice and realize that our rule of law is about extending existing rights to people.

Thousands of Arab schools in Israel went on strike on Monday, their 450,000 pupils remaining at home, as the Israeli government geared up for a major showdown with its large Palestinian minority.

The trigger for the strike is the Israeli government’s decision to starve 47 independent schools, set up originally by the international churches, of the state funding they have received for decades.

The schools, among the best in the country, have effectively been forced to shut indefinitely, their 33,000 pupils unsure when or even whether they will return to their classrooms.

On Sunday, thousands of families came from across Israel, from cities like Nazareth, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle and occupied East Jerusalem, where the schools are located, to protest noisily outside the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The schools have run up huge debts since educational officials began cutting their budgets seven years ago, from 75 percent of the funding received by state schools to just 29 percent today. To open this academic year, they need about $50mn; the government is offering $5mn.

Talks over the past 18 months with the education ministry have gone nowhere. As Monday’s solidarity strike shows, Netanyahu’s government is taking on not only the church schools and the small Christian population of about 150,000, but all of the country’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, who make up a fifth of the population.

Israel is also risking a diplomatic confrontation with the Vatican and other international churches.

Last week Pope Francis raised the matter during a visit by Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, to the Holy See. Rivlin promised to find a solution, though the government itself shows no signs of budging.

Christian leaders in Israel have hinted that they may try to shut important holy sites, such as the Basilica of the Annunciation Church in Nazareth and the Mount of Beatitudes next to the Sea of Galilee, in retaliation. This, they hope, will bring the issue to the attention of pilgrims and tourists, adding to the pressure on Israel.

Education officials, however, are hoping they can limit support for the schools by advancing a seemingly reasonable argument: if the church schools want government money, they should join the state education system.

In truth, however, the move is not being advanced on economic grounds. There are far more sinister motives for the crackdown on the church schools, observers note.

Nadeem Nashif, director of Baladna, an organisation in Haifa promoting the rights of Palestinian youth, warns that the Netanyahu government’s main goal is to end the educational autonomy of these schools.

Organized, state-sponsored religions are dangerous.  You can recognize the theocrats among us.  Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down Planned Parenthood once again.  It’s been shown they’ve done nothing wrong but their outrage blindly continues as they fight to control women’s lives and health decisions and poor women’s access to health services.

Congressional Republicans say they are determined to shut Planned Parenthood down, regardless of whether it broke any laws.

In more than two months of investigations, members have yet to turn up evidence that Planned Parenthood acted illegally, the same conclusion reached by a half-dozen state investigations. The Department of Justice has so far declined to launch a formal probe.

Several Republicans acknowledged this week that they may never find proof of wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood — but said it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t know whether we’re ever going to be able to answer that question, whether it was illegal for them to do what they were doing,” Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said during the House’s first hearing on the topic Wednesday. “I don’t know if it was illegal … but it was immoral, what was seen on that video.”

Republicans have long been fierce critics of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest provider of abortion services. Under the law, the organization is banned from using federal funding for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity.

Stirred by outrage over secretly recorded videos at Planned Parenthood, Republicans opposed to abortion rights say it’s time to end federal funding for the group once and for all.

“The issue is not whether there’s been a crime committed or not,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) told the same group at the hearing. “This issue is whether or not taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood. That’s the issue before this committee.”

Three House committees and six states have investigated Planned Parenthood since it was first targeted by the undercover videos in July. The Energy and Commerce Committee has interviewed two Planned Parenthood officials as well as officials from three tissue procurement companies that have partnered with the organization: Stem Express, Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and Novogenix Laboratories.

As our country become progressively less religious and less Christian, why do we continue to we have to continually pay to keep the hysterics of this minority on the front burner?  It’s because they’ve totally co-opted one of the two major (sic) political parties who also has access to a lot of money that could care less about any thing other than getting more money.  We’re seeing a political season of incredible meanness with less emphasis on actual policy and more on singling out people to blame and hate.

Jeb-a-SnoozerJeb Bush just announced VooDoo Economics version 4.1 last week and it hid the media with a dull thud.  The same sick, tired formula that has wrecked havoc all of the three times it was tried is back on the front burner with the establishment republican candidate and all we see is one woman with lawyers who file one frivolous lawsuit after another.   Where’s the sense of priority here?   We’re seeing some things on this from print media but where’s the TV time from all the midle class folks ousted into poverty for these kinds of wreckless policy prescriptions?  Jared Bernsteins highlights the arguments we find in the print media.

  • John Cassidy of the New Yorker points out that neither of the Bush boys listened closely enough to their dad: “[Won’t Jeb’s] plan inflate the deficit…? Not in the make-believe world of “voodoo economics” — the term that Jeb’s father, George H. W. Bush, used in criticizing Ronald Reagan’s tax-cutting plans during their G.O.P. primary tussle, in 1980.” By sprinkling supply-side fairy dust, along with, to be fair, some of the minor offsets I noted in my earlier piece, “these policies will unleash increased investment, higher wages and sustained four per cent economic growth, while reducing the deficit,” according to the candidate. But as Cassidy reminds us: “Anyone whose memory extends back to the seventies and eighties will find this language depressingly familiar. The original iteration of voodoo economics didn’t merely involve cutting taxes and directing the bulk of the gains to the ultra-wealthy…The ‘voodoo’ accusation arose from the claim that, because the policies would encourage people to work harder and businesses to invest more, a lot more taxable income would be produced, and the reductions in tax rates wouldn’t lead to a commensurate reduction in the amount of tax revenues that the government collected.”For the record…didn’t happen.

Here comes the sneaky sound of the same old same old.  Every one is trapped in culture wars trying to figure out why a few shrill religious extremists can’t just go mind their own damned business while the plutocrats sneak in with a plan to rob us all blind.  Wake the fuck up people!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?