Things–unpleasant and dangerous–are beginning to happen that shows we’ve been taken over by the Alt Right and the horrifying historical meaning of “America First”. It’s not just in the speeches any more. Some of today’s executive orders are horrifying and signal to the world we’re a really hostile presence for every one. It makes no difference if you’ve been our friends, allies, or enemies. We’re an agent of chaos on a level heretofore unknown.
Frankly, I believe an economic crisis is on its way sooner than I thought possible. There are several actions that look distinctly like acts of war. The winners for this move are China and Australia if you want to know where to invest your money. Trump is ending free trade. BTW, nutter Bernie is ecstatic. I really don’t think they understand the concept of trade at all.
This will not create US jobs. If anything, it will take away the jobs of those who work for firms that export US goods. As an economist, I cannot stress enough how devastating this will be to the US economy, our geopolitical and geoeconomic standing in the region, and our relations with other nations. Isolationism has never been–historically–a good thing. Additionally, it will not save or re-create US jobs destroyed by technology. For example, it’s only a matter of years before there will be no need for long haul truck drivers. We’re already learning to be our own grocery checkers.
I think the deplorables are going to really be hammered on all of this as well as the rest of working people. What’s needed are unions to offset the self-dealing of Senior Management and excessive dividend programs.
President Donald Trump abruptly ended the decades-old U.S. tilt toward free trade by signing an executive order to withdraw from an Asia-Pacific accord that was never ratified and promising to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the pact.
“We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said
Marching on Saturday with the 3 – 5 million others dampened my despair. I’m still extremely afraid of this insanity. But, it was so wonderful to know so many of us reject his delusions and aspire to create a more perfect union. We are a gumbo. We are a patchwork quilt. We are a jazz riff. We are so much more than Trump’s Narcissism can comprehend, respect, grasp, grok, appreciate, love … please enjoy my pictures of the NOLA March for Women and one other I got caught in by my friend Lynda Woolard who is–in turn–the red head in the photo shown second. I’m scowling at the southern sun just to the right of the Vulva up top.
More on the executive orders he signed today which includes re-instating the Mexico City Policy and freezing federal hiring, This is what putting America first is going to look like. Women, of course, were included in the slaughter. We will be hated more than we ever were before and we will likely hate ourselves.
“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” Mr Trump said in his short, nationalistic speech on Inauguration Day. “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”
The TPP withdrawal order was one of three actions taken by the President in his third full day in office. He also ordered a freeze in government hiring and re-imposed a ban on providing federal money to international groups that provide abortions.
Mr Trump has criticised international free trade deals for rewarding companies to outsource work and has attributed the loss of US manufacturing to foreign labour.
The man is insane and has no idea of what he speaks. Seriously, we’re headed to Depression. It’s the 30s all over again.
This is one piece of news that is also likely to isolate us from people we need as friends in the region. It’s like to embolden suicide bombers and terrorists. IMHO, it is an act of war. He plans to announce the movement of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
UPDATE: The White House has now confirmed it is in the early stages of talks regarding the embassy’s move
Channel 2 cited an anonymous source as saying a member of the Trump administration would announce the highly controversial move on the President’s first full working day in office.
I imagine the Radical Chistianist Terrorists are preparing for the rapture–yet again–as we speak.
Here are some other things you may want to read.
From The New Yorker and the pen of Robin Wright: TRUMP’S VAINGLORIOUS AFFRONT TO THE C.I.A.
From Rolling Stone: The Radical Crusade of Mike Pence; He’s trampled on the rights of women, LGBTQ folks and the poor. Then there’s the incompetence. Meet, quite possibly, the next president
From the WSJ: U.S. Eyes Michael Flynn’s Links to Russia,Counterintelligence agents have investigated communications by President Trump’s national security adviser, including phone calls to Russian ambassador in late December
From Politico: Hillary Clinton plots her next move; The Democrat has been studying election presentations, including reports on where she underperformed.
From Variety: CNN Declines to Air White House Press Conference Live
From Reuters: Ethics lawyers to sue Trump over foreign payments
A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit, brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will allege that the Constitution’s emoluments clause forbids payments to Trump’s businesses. It will seek a court order forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers working on the case.
Trump does business with countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, the group noted in a statement.
“When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman,”
I really just can’t do today. I can’t.
On Thursday, I wrote about Bernie Sanders’ embarrassing interview with The New York Daily News. In a little-noted exchange in that interview, Sanders coldly and heartlessly dismissed the arguments of relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre that they should be able to sue the manufacturer and seller of the AR-15, the gun used to kill 20 first graders and and 6 adults in Newtown CT in 2012. I mentioned that I had more to say about Sanders’ stance on guns and Vermont’s almost non-existent gun laws.
Once again, here is that exchange with the NY Daily News editorial board:
Daily News: There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?
Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?
Daily News: Correct.
Sanders: No, I don’t.
Daily News: Let me ask you. I know we’re short on time. Two quick questions. Your website talks about…
Sanders: No, let me just…I’m sorry. In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.
Sanders argued this case on the Thom Hartmann radio show on the afternoon of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Hunter Walker at Yahoo News, Jan. 9, 2016: Sanders defended protections for gun manufacturers on the day of the Newtown massacre.
Sanders appeared on The Thom Hartmann Program in the hours after the shooting, on Dec. 14, 2012. On the show, he was asked if the parents of the victims had “any recourse against the gun manufacturer.” Sanders suggested he would seek solutions that did not place blame on firearms makers.
“I don’t know that you hold a gun manufacturer responsible for what obviously a deranged person does. The issue is what is the best way forward to prevent these types of horrible occurrences? How do we make sure the guns do not get into the hands of people who are mentally ill? How do we make sure that people own guns which are only designed to kill people not to be used for hunting or target practices? So I mean there’s a lot to be discussed, and I think we’ve got to do something. We don’t want to read about this every month. So, it is an issue we’re going to have to address,” Sanders said.
Although Hillary Clinton did not in fact ever say that Sanders is “unqualified” to be POTUS, I personally believe that his views on guns should disqualify him from running for president as a Democrat.
The assault weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre is a gun that is, in Bernie’s words, “designed to kill people, not to used for hunting or target practice.” Nevertheless, Bernie argues that the relatives of the Sandy Hook victims should not be able to sue the gun manufacturer for heavily promoting the popular AR-15 assault weapon that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and 6 adults on December 14, 2012.
Sanders often defends his stance on guns by talking about his largely rural home state, Vermont where hunting is valued and where the murder rate is incredibly low. This is true, but Vermont does is not an island in a bubble that has no effect on other states.
Vermont’s loose laws allow gun traffickers to easily and cheaply buy weapons in Sanders’ state and sell them in urban areas in Massachusetts, New York and other northeastern states where gun laws are much stricter. The Boston Globe has published multiple articles about this serious problem over the past several years. The problem is tied up with the drug trade as well. Here’s just one example from the Globe from April 2014:
Frank Caraballo of Holyoke settled behind the wheel of his car carrying a stash of crack cocaine, his destination a supermarket parking lot in Brattleboro, where he would trade the drugs for a Glock 9mm handgun, prosecutors said.
It was a journey — and a deal — all too familiar to law enforcement authorities who have watched with increasing alarm as narcotics from Massachusetts are ferried to Vermont and swapped for guns that are plentiful and cheap.
And as the case of Frank Caraballo showed, the drugs-for-guns trade can end with deadly consequences: A few weeks after Caraballo purchased the gun in 2011, a woman whom he suspected had stolen from him was shot dead with a Glock 9mm in rural Vermont. Last October, Caraballo was convicted in the killing.
“You don’t know which one came first, the chicken or the egg, but guns are being traded for drugs, and drug dealers are coming here with their product,” said Jim Mostyn, the Vermont agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Drug dealers are aware that guns are readily available here.”
It’s an excellent article, and I hope you’ll read the rest. This is why we need Federal gun laws. Why isn’t Bernie Sanders addressing this issue that is hurting people in Vermont as well as Massachusetts and other states? Why isn’t the media asking him about it?
Here’s another article from July 2015 published by In These Times, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders.
The Vermont-New York Heroin-and-Guns Carousel That Can Make Dealers a 1,400% Profit. The headline focuses on NYC, but Massachusetts is also a big part of the story.
Pssst. Want an unregistered semi-automatic handgun, some heroin and a way to make a 1,400 percent profit?
First, the gun. In Vermont, you can legally buy it through a “private” sale at a gun show, yard sale, online or from a dealer. Doesn’t matter if you’re a convicted murderer with a history of mental illness and a restraining order for domestic abuse. Anyone 16 or older with $600 can, for example, go to Armslist.com and arrange with a “private party” in Arlington, Vt., to pick up a “Zastava M92 PV 7.62 x 39 cal. semi auto pistol that has a 10 inch barrel, comes with 2 each 30 round clips.” The Serbian assault weapon is, the ad notes, the “very cool … pistol version of the AK-47.”
Then, if you are willing to break the law, you can drive the weapon to New York, where semi-automatic handguns are banned, and sell it for triple the Vermont price. You can invest the $1,800 in heroin. Back in Vermont, where heroin is in relatively short supply, you can resell it for five times the New York cost and garner $9,000—a quick 1,400 percent profit.
Guns a ridiculously easy to get in Vermont.
Vermont has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. You can legally buy 50-caliber sniper rifles with scopes, sawed-off shotguns, semiautomatic pistols that can kill a moose, and armor-piercing bullets. No background check, no waiting period or limit on how many guns you can buy or own. You can use a false name and need no identification or registration. The magazine size is not restricted. And you can display the new gun on your hip or stuff it in your underpants for all the state cares. All legal. And as long as you “don’t know” the firearms will be used for criminal purposes, you can immediately resell the guns to a 21-year-old with racist insignias on his jacket, two prison escapees from upstate New York, a whacked-out drug dealer, a certified paranoid with a tinfoil hat, or a drunk 16-year-old (that’s the age to own a handgun without parental consent; there’s no age restriction on possessing a rifle or shotgun)….
We have seen that, like maple syrup, firearms cross state lines. One makes your pancakes delicious, the other fuels crime and murder. “Firearm traffickers travel to Vermont for the purchase of firearms from unlicensed sources and then travel back to more restrictive states,” Massachusetts Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent Christopher J. Arone tells In These Times. Vermont exports more guns per capita than any other New England state and ranks 16th nationwide. Hundreds of crime-linked guns originally purchased there have been recovered by out-of-state law enforcement.
Again, please read the whole thing. If Sanders were truly the courageous leader he claims to be, he should be able to have some influence on this situation. Instead, he simply accepts it because Vermont’s guns aren’t killing Vermonters–they are killing people in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and other nearby states.
Bernie’s cowardly stance on guns is beginning to get more attention as we approach the New York primary on April 19, and I hope he will be forced to answer some tough questions about they way his own state is contributing to crime in other states and his state’s absence of serious gun laws is leading to hundreds of deaths from heroin in Vermont.
At a heated press conference outside of City Hall in New York City on Friday, families of those affected by mass shootings urged the Vermont senator to apologize for his recent comments on guns, reiterating calls that some of them said were previously unanswered and dismissed….
Erica Smegielski, the 30-year-old daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Hochsprung, complained during Friday’s press conference — excerpts and audio of which the Clinton campaign emailed to reporters afterwards — that Sanders had ignored her call to admit his stance on the lawsuit is wrong and instead attacked his rival in the Democratic presidential primary.
“It is so shameful that you ignored my call for an apology and when pushed by a reporter, instead of responding to me, you attacked Hillary Clinton,” Smegielski said.
Sandy Phillips, who lost her daughter Jessica Ghawi during the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012, said that Sanders had treated her family disrespectfully during a phone call.
“Bernie promised to meet with us face to face,” she said about Sanders, who has been campaigning in New York. “We did have a telephone conversation, he was 15 minutes late to that telephone conversation. The first thing he had the nerve to say to my husband was ‘I’m very busy,’” she said. “Well Senator Sanders, we had been busy too. We had been busy burying our daughter.”
“Because of Bernie Sanders and others who voted like him, I and other Sandy Hook families are waiting for justice,” said Jillian Soto, who lost her sister Victoria at Sandy Hook. “I believe Remington acted irresponsibly and should be held accountable. I deserve for a jury to determine that, not the politicians in Washington, like Bernie Sanders.”
“Remington and others designed and executed an immoral marketing campaign that specifically targets violent-prone, military-obsessed young men and the result is both predictable and deadly,” she added. “Our families want the marketers, distributors, and sellers of the AR-15 held accountable for what happened at Sandy Hook. We want these profit-hungry to pay for their reckless marketing decision to stop targeting violent-prone young men as their ideal consumers.”
Read the rest at Politico.
I know there is much more interesting news today. What stories are you following? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a relaxing weekend.
In the latest showdown between the two jokers vying for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz revive an old Henny Youngman bit….with a bit of a twist. Actually, I should say tweet because this skit played out on the Twitter.
Y’all have to remember Henny Youngman was known as The King of the One-liners. And the famous of Youngman’s jokes, the punchline was, “Take my wife, please. ”
Well…keep that in mind as you check this out:
Liz Mair was anti-Trump before being anti-Trump was cool. After being let go from the Scott Walker campaign last March, she spent months during the summer and fall trying to get conservatives to take the threat of Trump seriously. In December she started up a super PAC dedicated to defeating him. But Mair also has a sense of humor—something that’s gotten her in trouble before. Her super PAC was called Make America Awesome.
Anyway, Mair decided to run a Facebook ad in Utah that featured Trump’s wife, Melania, from a nude photoshoot she did many years ago:
Of course this did not go over well and Trump reacted in the usual…Trumpy-douche fashion….
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Republican presidential primary. Slut shaming, schoolyard threats, and puerile taunts all carried out in full public view on Twitter. Are you feeling sorry for the demise of the smoke-filled room yet?
Well, that is what they call entertainment today…right?
Later on however…..
Liz Mair, who co-founded the anti-Trump super PAC, took to Twitter to set Trump straight about the ad’s provenance.
Heidi Cruz took an upaid absence as an managing director with Goldman Sachs last year after her husband began his presidential campaign. Cruz met her husband while working on the George W. Bush campaign in 2000, marrying in 2001.
While it is unclear what Trump could be referring to with respect to Cruz’s wife, BuzzFeed News reported last March on a heavily redacted 2005 police report where Heidi Cruz was spotted sitting on the ground near a Texas highway outside of Austin. According to the report itself, Heidi Cruz displayed no “signs of intoxication.”
“About a decade ago, when Mrs. Cruz returned from D.C. to Texas and faced a significant professional transition, she experienced a brief bout of depression,” Jason Miller, an adviser to Cruz, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News at the time, in response to inquiries. “Like millions of Americans, she came through that struggle with prayer, Christian counseling, and the love and support of her husband and family.”
Now for the results of yesterday’s primaries/caucuses:
Cruz: ‘Empower Law Enforcement To Patrol And Secure Muslim Neighborhoods’ : NPR – I can’t even comment on that one.
There have been new developments overnight in the Brussels IS terrorist attacks.
Pictures of brothers and suspect still at large can be found here: Brussels Attacks: Suicide Bombers Were Brothers – NBC News
The latest news can be found here: World News liveblog | Reuters.com
More on Brussels….
Solidarity, debate over Islam’s future in the West and anger at politicisation dominate social media after bombings.
Also, some stories on Obama’s recent trip to Cuba , and his current visit to Argentina.
Another loss. That’s what this already feels like to so much of Miami — before the “historic” baseball game has even been played. As if the Cubans who fled to this country haven’t already felt enough of those losses over the decades. Lost childhoods. Lost roots. Lost families. Lost land. Lost freedoms. Lost lives in the ocean that divides Cuba and America like the million miles of distance between desperation and hope.
Obama meets Argentine leader amid regional political shift | Reuters– There is a picture of the Obamas, their daughters and Michelle’s mom coming off Airforce One at that link…I love that.
I will include a few odds and ends here, all various items for you to scan through.
An Auckland businessman who threatened to poison baby formula bound for China in a bid to blackmail New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar dairy industry has been jailed for more than eight years.
Jeremy Kerr, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts of blackmail after sending threatening letters containing a pesticide called 1080 to dairy giant Fonterra and the New Zealand Farmers Federation in 2014.
In the letters he threatened to lace baby formula destined for various markets – with China the only country specifically named – unless New Zealand stopped using 1080.
The threat to supplies bound for China, a major importer of New Zealand baby formula, was not initially disclosed publicly by New Zealand authorities, who tightened access to it in domestic shops.
They also launched a massive investigation into the threat to New Zealand’s dairy sector, the country’s biggest export earner.
I don’t know about that…but Bebe is having surgery a week from today, doctor thinks she has Endometriosis …and is doing a D&C and Laparoscopy on her to take care of it before she starts treatment.
Remember the story about the woman in China who died of starvation when she was trapped in her office elevator? Shades of that tint this story from Atlanta…
A kitchen worker died after she was apparently trapped inside of a walk-in freezer for about 13 hours at a downtown Atlanta hotel, police said Tuesday.
A search for the woman began when she didn’t return home after her shift at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, one of the city’s most recognizable skyscrapers with its cylindrical shape. Investigators reviewed hotel surveillance video, and they think she may have entered the freezer about 8 p.m. Monday. She was found shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Atlanta police Lt. Charles Hampton said.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the woman as Carolyn Robinson, 61, of East Point.
“It appears that there was some type of mechanism to allow anyone who was inside to be able to exit,” Hampton said. He wasn’t sure if it was working properly.
“Right now there does not appear to be any foul play,” Hampton said.
I know it is a sad way to end a thread…but I think it makes a point to say…life is short, you never know what is going to happen.
Which brings us to the end of the post, so what’s happening in your neck of the woods?
Well, it’s another Monday of National Crass Consumerism Season and woe to us that have to do any normal errands in stores. For that matter, woe to us that get mail, email, commercial TV stations, radio, and internet because it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of the season of greed and guilt-laden obligation. It’s time to say WHOA! to all of that. You can’t go any where these days and escape the pitch. Whatever happened to just simply getting together and enjoying people when you have time off work or whatever. Does it all have to involve ugly sweaters, really bad music, and people in terrible mood all in lines I’d like to just plain avoid? Why is it the worst things about this country just keep getting worse?
Oh, wait, I can answer that. Some rich old white guy is making a buttload of money out of making every one else basically stressed and miserable. Plus a couple other old white dudes think their liberty is at risk if we start trying to solve the problems they create with policy that works rather than enriches the other old white dudes.
So, speaking of things that keep getting worse, the President addressed the nation last night about our rampant gun violence. Oh, wait, he only addressed our paranoid nation on the least likely form of gun violence. But, that’s all one party in this country cares about.
We can’t seem to get a break from putting gun violence into the bin denoting the religion of the shooter. It’s either terrorism from Mooslim TerroristZ or some crazy dude or black people that deserve to be shot because THUGZ!!. Those are the bins. That’s a pretty sad statement on the affairs of state. You can find the transcript at the White House Website.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.
Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones. And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.
I still want to have a discussion on why so many Americans feel the need to shoot up the country. I really could care less about their religion. One thing I read this weekend that I really would recommend that you read is the story of one of the survivors of the Oregon Community College shooter. Like I said, we don’t need to really look at the religion of the shooter to know the damage it inflicts on our society. We also know that it’s really difficult to predict and stop rampage shooters after they have access to weapons. We need to spend less time obsessing on the profiles of the shooters because we know there are so many of them now that just knowing who they are is not solving any of these problems. ISIS-inspired, Police shooting, person with known emotional illnesses or right wing Racist … the out come is the same and their access to weapons remains the same. There are other systemic things going on in this country we can and must address regardless of the profile of the shooter.
It had been 20 days since the last time Bonnie left Cheyeanne by herself — 20 days since she was shot along with 15 others in a classroom at Umpqua Community College. Nine people were killed that day, adding to the hundreds of Americans who have died in mass shootings in recent years. And seven people were wounded but didn’t die, joining the ever-expanding ranks of mass-shooting survivors. There are thousands of them. Fifty-eight gunshot survivors at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Three at the Washington Navy Yard. One at a church in Charleston, S.C. Nine in Colorado Springs. Twenty-one in San Bernardino, Calif. And seven more in Roseburg, Ore., where Cheyeanne had been sent home from the hospital to a flea-infested rental with reinforced locks and curtains darkening the living room.
A doctor had given her a booklet called “Creating a Safe Space to Recover,” and Bonnie had taken a break from waitressing to become a full-time caregiver. She had turned a $5 garage-sale recliner into Cheyeanne’s hospital bed and posted a sign on their front door: “No loud noises! Please do NOT knock.” She had set her alarm for every four hours to bring Cheyeanne her medicines and anything else that might make her feel safe again. Here came more Percocet to numb the pain and anti-anxieties to ease her panic attacks. Here came her purple blanket, her new puppy and her condolence letter from President Obama. Here came the old Little League baseball bats she wanted nearby for protection and the rifle she had used to kill her first deer.
From the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooter to former Congress woman Gabby Giffords, we have survivors of our own American War Zone. We have mothers whose sons were gunned down without much thought by the police. We have people who witnessed shootings on Bourbon street on Thanksgiving weekend. We know many people survived the San Bernadino shooters. All of them stand in testament to the gun culture in the US. The rest of the world simply does not get how we tolerate such a large body count.
But, we live in a divided country still. The civil war evidently solved very little but slavery in the long run. Just look at the speech and the reaction to the shootings last week to see how very differently our policy treats the same essential problem. The victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting have been all but forgotten. We’re not getting a prime time address to the country on the uptick in attacks on Women’s Health Clinics.
We have a lot of disgruntled, unhappy people that get easy access to guns then take the neighbors, family and co-workers with them when they finally decide to end themselves. The same process happens with the divorced father who goes after his wife and kids as it does with people driven by the inner demons of religious zealotry, bigotry, or mental illness. But, let’s make this all about reasons to bomb another country in the Middle East. Republicans ignore gun violence unless it’s been committed by some one who happens to be Muslim. Then, we get a witch hunt akin to the 1950s search for communists. This really isn’t our major issue with rampage shooters at all let alone overall gun violence in the US.
While Obama doesn’t say it outright, he appears to be subtly referencing Robert Pape’s influential argument that the great driver of suicide terrorism is not jihadist ideology but occupation. Because Obama, unlike Bush and Rubio, believes the Islamic State is ideologically weak, he thinks America’s current strategy will eventually defeat it unless America commits a large occupying force, which would give the jihadists a massive shot in the arm.
The other unforced error America must avoid, according to Obama, is “letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.” Because the GOP candidates see violent jihadism as a powerful, seductive ideology, they think that many American Muslims are at risk of becoming terrorists, and thus that the United States must monitor them more aggressively. Because Obama sees violent jihadism as ideologically weak and unattractive, he thinks that few American Muslims will embrace it unless the United States makes them feel like enemies in their own country—which is exactly what Donald Trump risks doing.
Obama is a kind of Fukuyamian. Like Francis Fukuyama, the author of the famed 1989 essay “The End of History,” he believes that powerful, structural forces will lead liberal democracies to triumph over their foes—so long as these democracies don’t do stupid things like persecuting Muslims at home or invading Muslim lands abroad. His Republican opponents, by contrast, believe that powerful and sinister enemies are overwhelming America, either overseas (the Rubio version) or domestically (the Trump version).
Read how our police respond to young black men and tell me that this isn’t a huge problem. One officer just pulled a gun a shot 12 year old Tamir Rice for having his hands in his pocket based on some hysterical white person’s 911 call. A huge portion of our citizenry lives in daily fear of the people who are supposed to serve and protect. Why do we only obsess on one cause that’s not even statistically up there with the causes of death by shootings. Toddlers with easy access to guns statistically do more killing than wild eyed Wahhabi sympathizers.
A 12-year-old boy killed by Cleveland police last year had his hands in his pockets when he was shot and wasn’t reaching for the pellet gun he was carrying, according to an expert hired by the boy’s family to review a frame-by-frame video of the deadly encounter.
Tamir Rice did not have enough time to remove his hands from his pockets before being shot and his hands were not visible to the officer, according to the report released late Friday night by attorneys for Tamir’s family.
The new report and two others from experts already used by the family are the latest analysis of evidence to be released as a grand jury considers whether to bring charges against the officers in Tamir’s death.
The boy was shot after authorities received a report of a man pointing and waving a gun outside a recreation center in November 2014. The rookie officer who fired at Tamir, Timothy Loehmann, told investigators he repeatedly ordered the boy to “show me your hands” then saw him pulling a weapon from his waistband before opening fire.
It turned out Tamir was carrying a nonlethal, airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets when Loehmann shot him outside the rec center. Tamir died a day later
Previous reports concluded that Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of opening his car door. The new analysis determined it happened even faster, within less than a second, according to the review by California-based shooting reconstruction expert Jesse Wobrock.
With the patrol car windows rolled up, Tamir could not have heard commands to show his hands, Wobrock added.
“The scientific analysis and timing involved do not support any claim that there was a meaningful exchange between Officer Loehmann and Tamir Rice, before he was shot,” Wobrock said.
Wobrock said comparing the location of a bullet hole in Tamir’s jacket with the location of the wound on his body indicated that the boy had lifted his arm – with his hand in his pocket – at the moment he was shot.
One of the things that the press has been obsessing about is the bomb factory in the garage of the San Bernadino shooters. Where were they when this happened in August?
An upstate New York man who blew his leg off in his garage making improvised explosive devices will be held in federal custody without bail because law enforcement found white supremacist paraphernalia and believe he’s dangerous,WGRZ reports.
Michael O’Neill, 45, a former Niagara County corrections officer, is accused of making seven bombs and was arrested two weeks ago after one of the devices accidentally went off. O’Neill was rushed to a hospital where his leg had to be amputated. He was the only one injured, WGRZ reports.
“Luckily, he is detained,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Alsup told Time Warner Cable News. “He is no longer at large in the community with or without some of the physical disabilities he’s going to have going forward, but luckily for the community, he only hurt himself.”
Pictures of the KKK, Nazi imagery and the Confederate flag were found inside his home, which he lives in with his stepfather, William Ross, who chairs the Niagara County Legislature, WGRZ reports.
Even with his leg now missing, prosecutors believed it would be too risky for the public if O’Neill was released from custody.
The explosives he created contained nails and BB pellets, according to reports. One was labeled “powder with nails.”
His attorney said O’Neill was just planning to blow up some tree stumps.
“The fact that there were some items that we described in court as consistent with, white supremacists, to include the Ku Klux Klan, and the Nazi imagery, some of the verbiage which was particularly on the Nazi picture, also the Confederate battle flag, means that law enforcement has more work to go,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul told TWC News.
O’Neill will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshalls while he recuperates, then will be transferred to a detention facility.
We really can’t find out much about the trends in gun violence because of this: Quietly, Congress extends a ban on CDC research on gun violence.
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee quietly rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the underlying causes of gun violence.
That has caused strange gyrations in research, such as this November report by the CDC into gun violence that manages not to be about guns.
Though gun violence and gun control has stayed in the forefront of the American conversation in recent months, most recently after Wednesday’s mass killings in a developmental disabilities center in San Bernardino, California, prohibition on gun research goes back decades.
Dr. Fred Rivara, a professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Washington at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has been involved with injury research for 30 years. He was part of a team that researched gun violence back in the 1990s and personally saw the chilling effects of the NRA’s lobbying arm. Rivara says that the NRA accused the CDC of trying to use science to promote gun control.
“As a result of that, many, many people stopped doing gun research, [and] the number of publications on firearm violence decreased dramatically,” he told The Takeaway in April. “It was really chilling in terms of our ability to conduct research on this very important problem.”
In 2013, some 34,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds. So Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich decided to ask House Speaker John Boehner why his party is trying to block research on gun violence.
“The CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect public health,” Boehner said at a press conference last week. “I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. Guns don’t kill people — people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual and not blame the action on some weapon.”
There are a lot of good reasons to support studying factors that contribute to gun violence. The problem is that there is very little money to do such research and there’s actually bans on it when it comes to federal research time and money. This is ridiculous. This research ban and it’s impact are thankfully back in the news. I’m going to use the West Virginia newspaper article as an illustration. It includes descriptions of the 2013 moves by Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin to change gun registration laws as well as a discussion on trying to get new research on the root causes of gun violence. It’s an interesting read and it’s from this week.
Since 1996, Congress has barred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence. That restriction was extended to the National Institutes of Health in 2011.
What do West Virginia’s members of Congress, who represent the state with the 14th highest rate of gun death, think of this ban on research?
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., supports it.
Jenkins, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, voted in June to continue forbidding the CDC from studying gun violence. The proposal to allow research never got past his committee.
“I will continue to be a strong advocate for protecting West Virginians’ Second Amendment rights,” Jenkins said at the time. “This language has been included since 1996 and for the past two decades, both Democrats and Republicans have been in the majority and both parties have chosen to continue it.”
The rest of West Virginia’s congressional delegation — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney, all Republicans — refused to say this week whether they think federal public health agencies should be allowed to study gun violence.
On Wednesday, the same day that two shooters killed 14 people at a center for the disabled in California, more than 2,000 doctors petitioned Congress to end its prohibition on gun violence research.
“Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day,” Dr. Alice Chen, the director of Doctors for America, a health care advocacy group, said in a prepared statement. “Physicians believe it’s time to lift this effective ban and fund the research needed to save lives. We urge Congress to put patients over politics to help find solutions to our nation’s gun violence crisis.”
The ban on researching gun violence dates back to 1993, according to a 2013 report by the American Psychological Association.
In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published a CDC-funded study called “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.”
The study found that guns kept at home didn’t make people safer, in fact it found the opposite.
“Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance,” the study concluded.
The study garnered quite a bit of media attention and the National Rifle Association responded by pushing for the center that funded the study — the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention — to be eliminated, according to the APA report.
Congress didn’t eliminate the center but responded by pulling the CDC’s funding for gun violence research and passing an effective ban on future gun research, according to the APA report. That ban has been continually renewed ever since.
It really makes sense to understand the factors that contribute to gun deaths. This is especially true when we see outsized focus on one small section of the deaths. Can we please have an address to the nation demanding money to study the root causes of gun violence? The CDC felt so compelled to study this topic that it had to do so by actually avoiding the big questions and the Congressional ban. It’s not that scientists or doctors don’t demand the data. It’s that politicians don’t want to see it. This particular study focused on Wilmington, DE. and was done through the back door. Notice that we do, in fact, have an executive order to study it.
On November 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a 14-page report on gun violence in Wilmington, Delaware, a medium-sized city of roughly 70,000 residents that also experiences one of the highest murder rates in the country. To judge by the language in its title — “Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention” — the study might seem to have been an overlooked watershed: Despite a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama to resume research on gun violence, the CDC has adhered to a two-decade-old Congressional restriction that effectively bans such inquiries. Now here was a document suggesting it was tiptoeing back in.
Read through the Wilmington report, though, and you get a different story — one about the strange contortions that result as the CDC seeks to fulfill its public health mission without violating Congress’s orders.
While the new study analyzed Wilmington’s 127 recorded shootings in 2013, it does not address how the perpetrators acquired their weapons, or if attempts to limit access to firearms might lead to a dip in crime. Instead, the Wilmington report outlines already well-established trends and risk factors: that 95 percent of city residents arrested for violent crimes are young men; that a history of violence is a strong predictor for being involved in a firearm-related crime; and that unemployment is often a risk factor for violence. The report concludes that “integrating data systems” across Delaware would allow social service providers to better understand the issue.
If the CDC wasn’t going to consider the role of firearms in Wilmington’s gun crimes, why do the study at all? The answer is in the research’s origins, which lie in a bizarro world of not-actually-about-gun-violence gun violence studies that are an outgrowth of the Congressional ban. “It’s not like the study was initiated by the CDC,” Dr. Linda Degutis, the former director of the center’s national injury center, tells The Trace. “It was a response to a request from the city.”
Specifically, the Wilmington study is a product of the CDC’s “Epi-Aids” program, which assists states and local governments with public health problems through the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service division. Because the CDC is under immense political pressure to avoid doing anything that might even appear to “advocate or promote gun control” (in the words of Congress), Epi-Aid requests like Wilmington’s — which revolve around firearm-related public health issues — put the agency in a difficult situation. In a proper epidemiological study, guns themselves would be treated as a risk factor for many types of violence or injury — just as mosquitoes would be treated as a risk factor for contracting malaria, for example. As it is, the agency is confined to rehashing social or environmental factors that have already been thoroughly studied by injury researchers.
“When a health department requests an investigation of something, that’s basically within the CDC’s authorization, because they’re not necessarily saying ‘Let’s do gun violence research.’ They’re saying ‘Let’s figure out what’s going on here,’” says Degutis, who says she left the organization last year in part because she was frustrated with the difficulty of conducting research on gun violence.
Again, we’re beginning to see smaller journalism outlets and doctors openly discuss this issue. We can’t possibly have any practical, workable policies if all we have to on our pet political fetishes and the overwhelming presence of a terrorist-enabling lobbying group. When doing panel research on varying situations, a good researcher never focuses on one variable. Yet, we continually have public discussions on very few factors that contribute to gun violence. This is a problem.
On the Wednesday of the shooting in San Bernardino, California, only a few hours before the event took place, doctors went to Capitol Hill asking Congress to end the ban on gun violence research. They presented a petition signed by over 2,000 doctors nationwide, protesting a 1996 ban that prevents the Center For Disease Control from studying gun violence.
The ban was made after a CDC-funded study revealed that having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide and suicide. The NRA convinced Congress that the CDC was using its power to advocate gun control, and Congress quickly cut funding for gun-related research. It wasn’t exactly a ban on all research, per se, but the amendment wasworded in such a confusing and vague way that no one knew for certain what was permitted. This created a climate of fear and intimidation with CDC researchers, where “no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out” if they could study gun violence. But why would the CDC want to study gun violence, anyway?
Take the time to read some of these links. I know many of my links today actually go to in depth articles but it’s time to start contacting our congress critters and demanding money to study all of the sources of gun violence. There are many good statistics and facts in those articles you can use to beef up your letters and calls. We need to look beyond the sources that Republicans find politically expedient. This means that every time we have a rampage shooter the only thing we hear about our mental health issues and speculation about radical Islamic Wahhabi jihadists. This is ridiculous and it needs to stop. The only way to stop it is to start pressuring Congress to give us information and not fetishist screeds. This denigrates the deaths of every toddler shot by another toddler, every black man shot by a police officer, every woman and child shot by a domestic abuser, and the lives of mentally ill people and American Muslims that are blamed for shootings that are a small part of the large picture. We need information and real policies and no more platitudes.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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.
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.
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.
It’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 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?
Hey, Dakinikat and Boston Boomer went local the last couple of days, so I am going to take this opportunity to do the same. Only this is not going to be a whole post on the crazy ass happenings of Banjoville. It will only be a few links about a story making world headlines from my hometown of Tampa, Florida. In fact…it is specifically about the parents of my childhood arch nemesis…a girl named “Jonele”…who I once told way back in fourth grade, at Tampa Bay Elementary School, in Mrs. de la Parte’s class…that she had a face like a baboon’s ass. (When you see the picture of her mother…whom she favored especially through the eyes and nose…you will see the resemblance is striking.)
Anyway, I remember when Jonele’s parents completely remodeled their house. It was redecorated in South American style…it looked like a big expensive Mexican style veranda, with the open area and orange-red tile floors. Something the mother had seen while on vacation…I remember it so well…her mother talking about it during Jonele’s birthday party, as she was showing people the little Mayan-like statues she got from her trip.
There is a reason for all this buildup.
I don’t know why Jonele was the bitch she was…or why she seem to pick on me. But she did, and I couldn’t stand it.
I had only spent 2nd and 3rd grade dealing with her shit on a daily basis, that face she would give me…the look. Damn. How she would make me cry. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to school, I would fake being sick, until I got the balls to finally tell her off that day…in the hallway, just outside the door as we were walking into Mrs. de la Parte’s fourth grade class. It was magnificent. And other kids heard me too…from that point on I stood up for myself, and I stood up for other people too…no matter what.
I guess Baboon Face gave me the ability to voice my convictions. I had always been loud and demanding as a kid, but when it came to bullies…that was another matter. Thankfully Jonele empowered me that day…we never became friends. In fact my senior yearbook still has the word bitch written across her face…but the point is that she did have some positive impact on my life, and for that I say…thank you…you bullying baboon faced shitass bitch.
And now the news story…by the way…it also hits a bitter note because of the BoA business too.
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.
For four years, Joyce and Nelson Coniglio were haunted by these words:
The calls started in 2009 when B of A took over the mortgage the Coniglios used to buy a second home in their Tampa Heights neighborhood. They quickly fell behind.
On their second home no less…
The bank called, the family said, while they tried to get the loan modified. B of A called even after the cease-and-desist letters. There were hundreds of robocalls, sometimes five a day.
In July, the Coniglios sued in federal court to stop the harassment. Three months later, they won — by default judgment. B of A missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit.
Now the bank owes the Coniglios more than $1 million.
“Unlike Bank of America,” he said, “we’re only going to call them once.”
You know, why do some people always seem to “luck” out?
The Coniglios are both 69 and have been married for 45 years.
Joyce Coniglio spent 44 years teaching at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School. Nelson Coniglio was a trucker. In 1999 he pleaded guilty to federal charges for piloting drugs and money for a Tampa ring operating in Colombia.
The couple live in Tampa Heights, on a block surrounded by relatives. In 2006, the Conigilios bought a second home in the neighborhood for $180,000, according to records.
They didn’t have a plan for the house. Maybe another relative could use it. Maybe they would downsize. All the Coniglios knew was, they could afford it.
Then the recession hit, and so did B of A .
I don’t know, seems like they are well connected to me…
You can read the rest of the story at the link. But the thing that gets me is Nelson plead guilty for trafficking drugs and money, and here he is…winner of a million dollar lawsuit from Bank of America. There is a quote from Nelson in the article that reads:
When the bank took over the mortgage, the family said it imposed a more expensive homeowner’s insurance policy on them, doubling their payments to $2,800 a month.
“Everything changed,” Nelson Coniglio said. “Our incomes go down, our bills go up. It’s the American way.”
Uh, well…you fly in drugs and money for the mob, you get charged with a federal crime, and then you wind up winning a million dollars. (If you are white.) Then yes…it is the American Way.
Yes, I am a bitter bitch about this story and these people who got to stick it to BoA. Of all the poor people who have been through the same thing as the Coniglios, and that includes me and my family, why couldn’t the big win go to a more deserving set of BoA customers.
On with the rest of today’s links, starting with the connection to the images you will see (Not baboons):
Bangladesh is often associated with cheap clothes produced for the mass market, but the delicate and much more expensive jamdani fabric is also made here. The people who weave the material are highly sought-after employees.
On the banks of the River Lakshya – just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital – the sun is heating the tiny corrugated iron factory I am standing in to oven-like temperatures.
Inside, under a string of bare light bulbs, six master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking a sweat at their bamboo looms.
The men are shirtless. The women wear neon-coloured salwar kameez – a traditional South Asian garment. All of them rest their arms on cheap white cotton, protecting the delicate muslin they are working on.
This dirt-floor workshop might not hint at luxury, but the special jamdani fabric made here is highly coveted and incredibly expensive.
The factory owner, Anwar Hossain, walks me past the looms. Whiplash thin and just over 5ft (1.5m) tall, he doesn’t disturb the workers as he pauses to let me admire the work of one young woman who sits below us.
Her hands, spinning like furious atoms, interlace silky gold thread into a sheer muslin cloth the colour of oxblood.
“Jamdani is expensive since it requires dedicated work and special skills,” Hossain says, flicking a bejewelled hand over the peacock feather motif that the young woman works on. “My weavers don’t use patterns, they create only from memory.”
Back to the real world: Senate passes five-day budget extension, averting shutdown | Al Jazeera America
The Senate passed a five-day extension of federal funding on Saturday, staving off a government shutdown and buying lawmakers more time to resolve the fight over a $1.1 trillion spending bill led by Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz.
It was the second time in a little over a year that Cruz, a Texas Republican freshman with presidential aspirations, has attempted to stop a key Obama administration initiative by denying government funds. In this case, Cruz was targeting Obama’s executive order that offered millions of undocumented immigrants relief from the threat of deportation.
Cruz was a central figure in a 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, when he persuaded Republicans to try to withhold funds from Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law.
In the end, Cruz got none of what he wanted and Republicans were left with little but voter anger.
What an ass, and a hypocrite. His father is a immigrant from Cuba via Canada, right?
Cruz and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama were demanding permission to offer an amendment that would deny the DHS any funds for carrying out Obama’s November immigration order. Critics of the order have called it an amnesty for lawbreakers.
Senators from both parties complained on Saturday that Cruz’s strategy was counterproductive and aimed at grabbing attention.
“This reminds me very much of the shutdown last year, where the strategy made absolutely no sense and was counterproductive,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said.
As reporters tried to interview Cruz as he entered the Senate chamber in the Capitol, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill shouted: “Quit giving him so much attention, that’s exactly what’s causing the problem!”
That is the first piece of sense I have heard from the Hill in ages.
In #BlackLivesMatter news:
The mothers of four slain black men and boys, three of whom were killed by police sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a heart-wrenching interview where they made one thing absolutely clear: their sons would be alive if they were white.
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Lesley McSpadden, mother of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice‘s mother Samaria Rice, and Eric Garner‘s mother Gwen Carr came together and spoke about their losses as well as the role of race.
All of these women have suffered immense pain, and it’s maddening that they have to justify their pain and the injustice they feel as mothers of unarmed black victims. When Cooper asked if they thought things would have turned out differently if their sons were white, he framed it as a “hard question to ask.” But for these four mothers, it was the easiest one to answer.
Amid national protests decrying police brutality, three effigies of black people were discovered hanging by a noose on the Berkeley campus at the University of California.
Police and students took the cardboard cutouts depicting lynching victims down Saturday afternoon from two locations on campus as demonstrations broke out to the theme of “#blacklivesmatter.”
“We’re uncertain of the intention of this. It could be related to the protests, but it could be racially motivated,” Claire Holmes told the Daily News. “We’d like to get to the bottom of it.”
The disturbing figures hanging from iconic landmarks on the Berkeley campus were reported to police just after 9 a.m., but a third effigy found through social media disappeared before police got to it.
The campus is investigating it as a hate crime.
And yet, just earlier in the week over at Berkley: CA Police Chief Joins ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest, Scolded by Police Union | Mediaite
Richmond, California police chief made quite the statement this week by standing with protesters and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign:
And you’ll notice, Chief Chris Magnus is very noticeably wearing his police uniform.
That in particular was the issue taken by the Richmond Police Officers Association, which released a statement criticizing Magnus by citing the state government code’s explicit ban on police officers participating in political activity while in uniform.
One union attorney said they’re “disappointed the chief felt free to flaunt those laws by wearing his uniform during the protest.”
Thousands of protesters hit the streets in New York City on Saturday to protest police violence after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island in what came to be known as the #MillionMarchNYC demonstration. Among them were several members of the cast of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.
Vicky Jeudy, who plays Janae Watson, posted this dramatic photo of the group holding “I Can’t Breathe” signs and doing the “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.
In Washington DC: ‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment:’ Thousands March in D.C. Protesting Police Violence – The Root –Read some interviews with people walking in the protest.
“In refusing to prosecute, Obama and Holder demonstrate their own profound disregard for the collective rights of Black Americans as a people.”
Black Americans know all about “law and order”: the term, itself, is code for the state-wielded hammer that is relentlessly deployed against us. No people on earth are more conditioned to concentrated bludgeoning under “color of law” than African Americans, who account for one out of out eight of the world’s prison inmates. Black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be killed by U.S. lawmen, and make up a clear majority of young police shooting victims under the most draconian law and order regime on the planet. Of all the world’s peoples, none have been so unremittingly inculcated with the lessons of crime and punishment – especially punishment, whether merited or not.
For a people so acculturated, justice demands retribution – even for Pharaoh and his army. Thus, the simple and near-universal Black American demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute killer cops.
But, this they will not do.
The Obama administration has no intention of pursuing prosecution of Darren Wilson, or Trayvon Martin’s vigilante killer George Zimmerman, or the whole crew of New York City homicidal and/or depravedly indifferent first-responders in the Eric Garner case. Obama and Holder have nothing worthwhile to say to the nine grieving Black mothersnow visiting Washington demanding justice for their murdered loved ones, other than empty assurances that they feel the families’ pain.
The U.S. Justice Department, which marshals unlimited resources to pursue long and sometimes fruitless prosecutions of whistleblowers and other “national security” targets, claims it is helpless to confront police impunity in the murder of Black Americans. The law, Holder and his apologists claim, requires that federal criminal prosecutions under the civil rights statute must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers “acted willfully” for the specific purpose of violating the victim’s 4th Amendment constitutional right to life. Making that case, they say, is near-impossible, requiring that prosecutors “get inside the officer’s head” to divine his intentions at the moment the trigger was pulled. Therefore, despite Holder and Obama’s public statements of concern, no good faith attempt is made to mount prosecutions.
“Police immunity from prosecution begins with the prosecutors.”
You go and read the whole thing.
Especially when you consider: Addicting Info – White Protestors Threaten to Lynch President – No Cops, Arrests Or Tear Gas (VIDEO)
I thought this was an interesting article, it looks at words and their usage: How We Lost Our “Freedom” » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
In the wave of protests sparked by Grand Jury acquittals of the policemen who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the word “freedom” is seldom heard.
It was different in the Civil Rights era. Then “freedom” was the watchword of the entire movement.
Meanwhile, in his campaign to retain his Senate seat in Kentucky – and ultimately to become Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell’s handlers put out a bumper sticker that read: “Coal. Guns. Freedom. Team Mitch.”
Michael Tomasky, who wrote about this in the New York Review of Books, also pointed out that Team Mitch campaigned tooth and nail against the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. The local version,“Kynect,” the state exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, has been unusually successful in signing up uninsured Kentuckians, and is widely popular.
Early in the campaign, it looked like McConnell would have a hard time defeating his Democratic rival, Alison Grimes. Grimes was careful to keep Obama at a distance, and she had nothing good to say about Obamacare. But she wasn’t careful enough; McConnell won handily.
In view of Kynect’s popularity, how could Team Mitch have gotten so much mileage out of running against it? The explanation speaks volumes about the Republican base. According to Tomasky, in an NBC News-Marist College poll conducted last spring, only 22% of white Kentuckians said that they opposed Kynect, while 60% said they opposed Obamacare. Shades of the Tea Party demand that the government keep its hands off Medicare!
In making Obamacare repeal their main war cry, was Team Mitch cynically exploiting the ignorance and befuddlement of Republican voters? “You betcha,” as Sarah Palin would say.
On that bumper sticker, where space was a priority, “freedom” functioned, at least in part, as a code word useful for conjuring up that ignorance and befuddlement. The thought, if it can be called that, is that because the Affordable Care Act exacts fines on people who do not purchase health insurance, it makes them less free. In other words, Obamacare commodifies health care, but it doesn’t commodify it quite enough.
So understood (or misunderstood), “freedom” fits nicely with “coal” and “guns,” when they too are used as code words — for the economic and cultural anxieties of the people whose votes McConnell sought.
Bravo for Team Mitch. They came up with a brilliant slogan; brilliantly slick. American political discourse has become so degraded in recent years that “freedom” is now fits in nicely with “coal” (or “drill, baby drill” in oil states) and “guns.” Team Mitch was on top of this development, and took full advantage of it.
It wasn’t always so; “freedom” used to belong to us. It was the watchword of the Civil Rights movement and of the black power (or black liberation) movement that followed. On the left, “freedom” – or “liberty,” the words are synonymous – was prominently and rightly paired alongside equality and fraternity (solidarity, community).
So much more to read at the link.
Another long read, that looks at film, silent film: moviemorlocks.com – Slapstick While Black
Apologies: this week’s post is about racially insensitive jokes in silent comedy (Yes, Ben Martin, this one’s for you), and so I’ve got some unpleasant screen grabs, illustrating some gags most of us probably wish hadn’t been filmed, and then to make matters worse I’m going to speak clumsily and awkwardly about these things while analyzing jokes. None of which is really all that great an idea.
As recent history has tragically shown, we’ve got a lot of work do to repair race relations in America. But that’s not to say it’s on no one’s short list of priorities to pick at the scabs of ninety-year-old silent comedies.
Why am I doing this, then? Well, despite these festering wounds I love silent comedy, and I fear it’s slipping into cultural irrelevancy. The only way to keep these films and these comedians even marginally, passingly, culturally relevant is to keep bringing new audiences to them—and these racist gags are a significant barrier to that.
Check it out.
But y’all know those red “skinned” people are getting screwed too: Congress Screws Native Americans With Fine Print – Truthdig
Somehow U.S. lawmakers have used a defense spending bill to sell Native American burial ground to mining giant Rio Tinto. Yay, capitalism!
But seriously, here’s what happened: The Senate on Fridaypassed a defense spending bill. Like a Christmas tree dressed with ornaments, lawmakers attached a host of riders and provisions to the bill, including number of land swaps. One such swap sees the transfer of Arizona forest land considered sacred by multiple native tribes, the Apache in particular, to Rio Tinto. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the mining concern is very unpopular with environmentalists, labor organizers, human rights activists and the government of Norway.
I am just glad that this is not Kim Kardashian: Time Magazine Names Ebola Fighters as 2014 ‘Person of the Year’
That is all on the news links, here’s the rest of the information on the Jamdani weaving:
From the UNESCO Culture Sector – Intangible Heritage – 2003 Convention : Traditional art of Jamdani weaving
Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople and apprentices around Dhaka. Jamdani textiles combine intricacy of design with muted or vibrant colours, and the finished garments are highly breathable. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the loom using the discontinuous weft technique. Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric’s popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion. The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognized as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques, and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. However, Jamdani weaving is principally transmitted by parents to children in home workshops. Weavers – together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts – form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity.
You can see a slideshow here.
Or watch a video:
From Frontline: The glory of jamdani
KALNA, a subdivision in West Bengal’s Bardhaman district, is known for its temples and hand-woven saris, particularly the jamdani weave. However, over the years, the delicate art of making jamdani with homespun yarn has practically disappeared, with mill-made yarn replacing khadi. Handloom purists can easily discern the difference between a traditional handwoven fabric and a mill-made one by the texture of the fabric. Much as anyone would want to possess the whole six yards of khadi jamdani, producing an authentic jamdani with traditional motifs is time consuming.
The Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation affiliated to the Crafts Council of India, has stepped in to encourage this skill. Ruby Palchoudhuri, honorary general secretary and executive director of the council, has taken up the challenge of reviving the traditional form of jamdani weaving. Designs and motifs from old saris (some even three generations old) are replicated with some variations. One of the main factors behind the decline of this traditional art of making jamdani is the time required to weave it. Though weaving is usually done by men, practically everything else, from spinning the yarn to spooling, is carried out by women.
The softness of the cotton fabric and the exquisite designs lend an enchanting quality to the saris. This magic in weave is the result of tireless work which brings meagre financial returns. Unknown and unrecognised, a small group of weavers continue with this line of work, primarily because it is the only thing they have been taught to do.
This is something that is taught and passed down from generation to generation.
Hemanta Nandi and his family have been weavers for three generations. For a combined effort of 14 hours a day, he and his wife earn a measly Rs.5,000 a month. “We would be better off working in the paddy fields, where we would be earning Rs.140 for four hours of work. But we are not able to do that kind of work because this is all we have learnt to do. We somehow eke out a living because we live in the village and not in a town,” he toldFrontline.
The process of making khadi jamdani is broadly divided into two parts—the making of the yarn and the weaving at the loom. The crucial pre-loom stage is usually handled entirely by women, from the spinning of the yarn to the point when it is placed on the warping drum before it goes to the loom. According to master weaver Jyotish Debnath, in whose Kalna factory the jamdani revival project is struggling to take off, the process of producing the yarn involves very delicate work, which only a woman’s hands can accomplish.
There are three other full pages at the link. Along with lots of pictures too.
From a another person’s perspective: woven air | Bangladesh textile residency
We discovered the weaving! And not just any weaving, yesterday morning we went to visit the village Vargaon Dargabari, a region near Dhaka where they produce Jamdani fabrics, the most beautiful woven textiles found in Bangladesh.
The technique resembles a tapestry technique where individual threads are woven as supplementary wefts to form geometric and floral motifs. The ground is very fine unbleached cotton, set in open density to form a gauze textile background. Jamdani fabrics are woven on a pit loom by 2 weavers working together. It is a very laborious process and a sari length (6 yards of woven fabric) can take more than 2 months to complete. See the videos below to appreciate the speed at which the weavers are working and how slowly the fabric grows!
I love this part, what the needle is made out of…
We were greeted by Abdul Jabbar Khan, one of the head weavers of the village and we visited a number of weaving set ups. Soon we had a following of inquisitive villagers and children! I explained I am a weaver too and I was invited to sit at the loom and try my hand at this technique. MrKhan very patiently showed me how to loop the thread over the kandu, a bone tool used for the extra thread weaving(we were told it is elephant tooth?!) and soon I knew just how time consuming the weaving process is. The most beautiful jamdani cloths we saw were dyed with natural pigments (see the last pictures in the series below).
Go to that link to see all the images. They are amazing.
Finally, the technique and stylistic designs used in jamdani weaving: Sari-Tangil & Jamdani | Parul Bhatnagar – Academia.edu
The Jamdani is a type of woven figured muslin sari, and in this type of weave special skill of the craftsman can be seen, by using a bamboo splinter like a needle, he can combine weaving, embroidery and ornamentation, the motifs of flowers and buds being sewn down as the pattern is formed between the meeting places of the warp and the weft. The Jamdanis are therefore like fragile tapestry and were usually woven in soft shade of fine grey cotton, decorated either in bluish grey design or sometimes with creamy white with gold or silver threads producing fine sari’s with full embellishment on the entire material and its border and pallav (top end) patterns comprising flowers set all over in sprays butidar, or run diagonally tircha, or formed a sort of crisscross Jal or lay scattered at even distance on the surface toradar.
Jamdani or “figured muslin”, traditionally woven in Dacca, (now Dhaka inBangladesh), West Bengal and Tanda in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, refers to cotton fabric brocaded with cotton and sometimes with zari threads.
I think you all will find those reads fascinating. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy yourselves.