Wednesday Reads: Tank Girl Says It…Dems Got The House

We can turn this shit around!

 

Hey, I know…that is a little too positive, coming from someone like me…but even I have to grasp at some rays of hope. Yesterday, on my way to practice I took a picture of the sunset. It made me think of the future, in this way:

I said a little prayer, may this setting sun be the last of “tRumpian unaccountability”…and will tomorrow’s morning sun bring hope for our democracy.

That image of Tank Girl, it is morning…she is having tea and putting on her boots…preparing herself for the day’s ass kicking. We can turn this shit around! Let’s see what comes from winning the House?

 

Meanwhile, in Georgia:

As of 8:45 this morning, only 75,386 votes separate Kemp and Abrams…

Brian Kemp’s Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk – The Atlantic

The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. A state that was part of the Confederacy. A state scorched by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. A state that refused to accept the outcome of that war, treating its black residents as second-class citizens—if that—until the federal government forced its hand, a century later, with the Voting Rights Act. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.

Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.

Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.

Brian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.”
Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.[…]Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.[…]Days before the deadline to register for the November election, the Associated Press reported that Kemp had put 53,000 applicants on hold due to exact-match problems. An analysis of Kemp’s records found that 70 percent of those applicants were black. (Georgia is roughly 32 percent black.) Separately, the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that some 700 absentee-ballot applications and almost 200 absentee ballots were rejected by county officials due to a law mandating that the signatures on absentee applications and ballots visually match the signatures on file. Thus, poor penmanship was added to the list of crimes that can lead to disenfranchisement in Georgia.[…]

In the end, it looks like Kemp won. It’s impossible to know if his attempts to restrict the franchise are what pushed him over the line. But if the Georgia race had taken place in another country—say, the Republic of Georgia—U.S. media and the U.S. State Department would not have hesitated to question its legitimacy, if for no other reason than Kemp’s dual roles as candidate and election overseer. Of course, there were other reasons. As of this morning, he led by about 75,000 votes; more than 85,000 registrations were canceled through August 1 of this year alone.

Stacy Abrams is vowing not to concede until all votes are counted. I think she should demand a recount…as well.

 

 

 

This is a good thread to round up the tRump effect:

From down along this thread:

Other observations:

This piece of shit is gone:

And…

On that note, here are a few cartoons:

Blue Shadow: 11/07/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Blue Shadow

I think Boston Boomer had this in one of her post, but it is so good I have to repeat it:

Election Sticker: 11/07/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Election Sticker

11/06/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

 

 

 

I wonder what the rest of today will bring?

See you in the comments…this is an open thread.

 

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Sunday Reads: “Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

 

 

A lot of shit went down this week, the reason I chose to highlight the quote up top is simply because of the key word: Regime.

Many news outlets made quite a point about Mike Pompeo’s Freudian slip, referring to the tRump Administration as “this regime.”

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER Senate Grills Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 4:30-5p ET CNN.com – Transcripts

“Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

Now, I read the transcript…link above, and honestly…I don’t know what the fuck “regime” Pompeo is talking about; so much bullshit is spewing from his mouth. But if he is indeed referring to tRump…he spoke the words we all know to be true.

I think the following sentiment has been mentioned before:

 

Take a look at this thread, it deals with Stein and Sanders and Tad Devine…and only strengthens my belief in #FuckBernieSanders :

Here is another long thread to check out, about my state…Georgia and the asshole named Kemp currently running for Governor:

A few tweets that continue to question the 2016 elections.

Here are some associations with tRump and his “friends” ….including the folks that perhaps Putin may have wanted to be excluded from sanctions?

Treasury May Drop Sanctions on a Company Owned by One of Putin’s Allies – Mother Jones

The Trump Administration may lift sanctions on a major Russian company founded by one of Vladimir Putin’s top allies.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin told reporters during G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers last week, that the department may remove sanctions on Rusal, an international aluminum company that controls an estimated 6 percent of the global market that has long been controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a Putin confidant who has been implicated in suspected coordination between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but he has repeatedly denied involvement. As Reuters reported, the department is mulling the move in the wake of a sharp increase in aluminum prices that followed Trump‘s imposition of a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

“The objective was to impact the oligarchs, not to impact the hardworking people of Rusal as a result of the sanctions,” Mnunchin told CNN, which reported the comments on Friday.

In April, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Deripaska and Rusal, along with 24 other Russians, in a delayed action aimedat punishing Russia for interfering the 2016 election. Under the sanctions, the US assets of the individuals and firms listed are frozen, and American citizens are barred from doing business with them. Deripaska was specifically singled out for “having acted or purported to act for, or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

Updates on tRump’s crimes against humanity:

The latest on that 6 year old who was assaulted at a detention center…she has been reunited with her family.

A 6-Year-Old Detainee Was Reportedly Made to Sign a Responsibility Form After She Was Allegedly Sexually Abused at a Facility | Teen Vogue

A 6-year-old girl was allegedly sexually abused while at an Arizona-based detention center, The Nation reports. The child, who The Nation refers to as D.L., reportedly left Guatemala with her mother because of gang violence; they were separated at the U.S. border on May 24, as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The 6-year-old was then placed in Casa Glendale, a detention center run by Southwest Key Programs.

According to The Nation, D.L.’s father (who lives in California) received a phone call from Southwest Key on June 11, telling him that another child in the detention center had allegedly “fondled” his daughter and other children. Mark Lane, a spokesperson representing D.L.’s family, told The Nation that the 6-year-old’s father was instructed “not to worry” because “Southwest Key was changing some of its protocols and such abuse would not happen again.” (The report notes that several weeks later, D.L.’s father received another phone call, alerting him to a second instance of alleged abuse by the same suspect.)

The Nation also reports that D.L. was asked to sign a form that was part of the detention center’s “intervention protocol.” The form, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, noted that D.L. was instructed to maintain her “distance from other youth involved,” and that she was made aware it was her “responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries with peers/workers.” The document also noted that it was D.L.’s “responsibility to report sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or inappropriate sexual behavior.”

 

 

Boston Boomer mentioned this yesterday in the comments:

 

But this is really the disgusting part:

How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight

07_catholic hospitals_GEOGRAPHY 4x3_rev

Almost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.

The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?

In a growing number of communities around the country, especially in rural areas, patients and physicians have access to just one hospital. And in more and more places, that hospital is Catholic. That sounds innocuous — a hospital is a hospital, after all. But Catholic hospitals are bound by a range of restrictions on care that are determined by religious authorities, with very little input from medical staff. Increasingly, where a patient lives can determine whether Catholic doctrine, and how the local bishop interprets that doctrine, will decide what kind of care she can get.

This is worrying news:

I lit candles for Lewis this morning…I hope he gets better…

 


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

The post World War 2 era led to the birth of a lot of new democracies as the colonial era started to wind down in earnest. European countries couldn’t rebuild and fund empires.  One of the most fascinating things to me about the current state of things in the world is that many places where democracy seemed well-rooted are plotting a path to return of autocratic forms of government. It hasn’t been that long since the USSR and its satellites broke up into many little experiments in democracy either.  What makes some countries shrug their collective shoulders and go back to strong men?

DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY – MARCH 27: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets crowd during a local election rally organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party in Diyarbakir, Turkey, on March 27, 2014. (Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At some point, you have to question which institutions have failed a country’s people but it’s undoubtedly an interplay of many. Turkey’s decline has many lessons for us. The similarities between Kremlin Caligula and Erdogan are eerie.  That’s why I decided to write about it today.

Modern day religious extremism ventures into politics disguised as upholding traditional culture and values. Patriotism and nationalism appeal to many. The next thing you know is there is no culture but state-approved culture. Turkey has realigned itself. It looked to the West for most of the 20th Century.  It now looks backward in time.  Many of the same warning signals are present within the US so a good look at Turkey is necessary. Foreign Policy argues that “Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t just win his constitutional referendum — he permanently closed a chapter of his country’s modern history.”

Why are the world’s democracies facing such threat to modernity?  Why place so much power in an executive branch?

Whether they understood it or not, when Turks voted “Yes”, they were registering their opposition to the Teşkilât-ı Esasîye Kanunu and the version of modernity that Ataturk imagined and represented. Though the opposition is still disputing the final vote tallies, the Turkish public seems to have given Erdogan and the AKP license to reorganize the Turkish state and in the process raze the values on which it was built. Even if they are demoralized in their defeat, Erdogan’s project will arouse significant resistance among the various “No” camps. The predictable result will be the continuation of the purge that has been going on since even before last July’s failed coup including more arrests and the additional delegitimization of Erdogan’s parliamentary opposition. All of this will further destabilize Turkish politics.

Turkey’s Islamists have long venerated the Ottoman period. In doing so, they implicitly expressed thinly veiled contempt for the Turkish Republic. For Necmettin Erbakan, who led the movement from the late 1960s to the emergence of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in August 2001, the republic represented cultural abnegation and repressive secularism in service of what he believed was Ataturk’s misbegotten ideas that the country could be made Western and the West would accept it. Rather, he saw Turkey’s natural place not at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels but as a leader of the Muslim world, whose partners should be Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, and Indonesia.

When Erbakan’s protégés — among them Erdogan and former President Abdullah Gul — broke with him and created the AKP, they jettisoned the anti-Western rhetoric of the old guard, committed themselves to advancing Turkey’s European Union candidacy, and consciously crafted an image of themselves as the Muslim analogues to Europe’s Christian Democrats. Even so, they retained traditional Islamist ideas about the role of Turkey in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world.

Thinkers within the AKP — notably former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu — harbored reservations about the compatibility of Western political and social institutions with their predominantly Muslim society. But the AKP leadership never acted upon this idea, choosing instead to undermine aspects of Ataturk’s legacy within the framework of the republic. That is no longer the case.

The AKP and supporters of the “yes” vote argue that the criticism of the constitutional amendments was unfair. They point out that the changes do not undermine a popularly elected parliament and president as well as an independent (at least formally) judiciary. This is all true, but it is also an exceedingly narrow description of the political system that Erdogan envisions. Rather, the powers that would be afforded to the executive presidency are vast, including the ability to appoint judges without input from parliament, issue decrees with the force of law, and dissolve parliament. The president would also have the sole prerogative over all senior appointments in the bureaucracy and exercise exclusive control of the armed forces. The amendments obviate the need for the post of prime minister, which would be abolished. The Grand National Assembly does retain some oversight and legislative powers, but if the president and the majority are from the same political party, the power of the presidency will be unconstrained. With massive imbalances and virtually no checks on the head of state, who will now also be the head of government, the constitutional amendments render the Law on Fundamental Organization and all subsequent efforts to emulate the organizational principles of a modern state moot.

There is an uptick in groups of voters drawn to authoritarianism.  This is not what I expected when I watched the “Arab Spring” unfold on Twitter.  Donald Trump is not what I expected after Barrack Obama.  There appears to be a group of people that just love themselves better in the comfort of old school religion and backwoods bullies.  Each follower of the world’s largest religions needs to discern a difference between being a person of faith and blindly following your religion over a precipice and into slavery.  It always begins with a purge of intellectuals, scientists, and scholars.

It has been painful for me to witness the immense disappointment of Turkish intellectuals, resilient by tradition, and mainly left-leaning. All I could hear by phone or on social media was tormented despair – a crushing sense of defeat. What united all those in academia and the media or in NGOs, regardless of their political stripes, was that they had hoped for democratic change under the AKP.

Many of them had given credit to the party, and its early pledges and steps towards an order where the sharing of power would break the vicious circle of the republic. They wanted to believe in human rights, freedom and an end to the decades-long Kurdish conflict. But the deliberate reversal of democratisation left all of them feeling they had been duped.

This conclusion became undeniable when last summer’s attempted coup – the details of which are still unclear – led to an immense purge. Given this mood of despair and the sense of defeat, we should expect another exodus of fine human resources in the coming months and years.

Journalists – such as me, abroad, or at home – will find themselves challenged even more after the referendum. Coverage of corruption will be a daredevil act, severe measures against critical journalism will continue and the remaining resistance of media proprietors will vanish.

The Turkish media will begin to resemble those of the Central Asian republics, where only mouthpieces for those in power are allowed to exist. Inevitably, these conditions will shift the epicentre of independent journalism to outside the borders of Turkey. My colleagues have already realised that their dreams of a dignified fourth estate were nothing but an illusion.

“At the end of the day, Erdoğan is simply replacing one form of authoritarianism with another,” wrote Cook.

“The Turkish republic has always been flawed, but it always contained the aspiration that – against the backdrop of the principles to which successive constitutions claimed fidelity – it could become a democracy. Erdoğan’s new Turkey closes off that prospect.”

Just as in this country’s election in 2016, Erdoğan won a slim victory.  That’s not stopping him from sweeping reforms that are way out of line with progress and modernity.

An emboldened Recep Tayyip Erdogan followed his win in a referendum that ratified the supremacy of his rule by taking aim at political opponents at home and abroad.

At his victory speech late on Sunday, supporters chanted that he should bring back the death penalty — a move that would finish off Turkey’s bid to join the European Union — and Erdogan warned opponents not to bother challenging the legitimacy of his win. He told them to prepare for the biggest overhaul of Turkey’s system of governance ever, one that will result in him having even fewer checks on his already considerable power.

“Today, Turkey has made a historic decision,” he said. “We will change gears and continue along our course more quickly.” The lira surged as much as 2.5 percent against the dollar in early trading on Monday in Istanbul before gains moderated.

The success of a package of 18 changes to the constitution was narrow, with about 51.4 percent of Turks approving it. It came at the end of a divisive two-month campaign during which Erdogan accused opponents of the vote of supporting “terrorists” and denounced as Nazi-like the decision of some EU countries to bar his ministers from lobbying the diaspora.

“The referendum campaign was dominated by strongly anti-Western rhetoric and repeated promises to bring back the death penalty,” said Inan Demir, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in London. “One hopes that this rhetoric will be tempered now that the vote is over,” but recent steps by the Turkish government do“not bode well for the hoped-for moderation in international relations.”

I’m not the only one curious about this trend toward dilution of democracy in Western nations. There’s actually quite a bit discussion on the topic out there today.

Now that two obese men with bad hair and nuclear weapons didn’t end the world over the weekend, let’s talk about Turkey. Maybe keeping up with the former focal point of the Ottoman empire hasn’t been on the top of your to-do list. All well and good. But you may want to know they voted to weaken or even obliterate—depending on who you ask—their democracy over the weekend.

So what does this referendum of theirs mean? Only give the Turkish president hitherto unprecedented control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Now that the Turks have voted “Yes” to these constitutional reforms, they’re signing up for a form of government in which parliament’s monitoring of the executive branch is removed from the constitution and the judiciary is even weaker and less independent than it already was beforehand.

It’s a complex case though. Turkey’s government is different than America’s and, in some ways, they’re actually embracing a system more similar to the one US citizens are used to. The main transition is one from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential one, albeit a strongly authoritative one. Traditionally, the Turkish president is more figurehead than enforcer. They’re intended to be more Queen Elizabeth than Vladimir Putin or even Donald Trump.

As head of state, they act as the public face of the country, acting in times of emergency but largely delegating the business of lawmaking and government-running to their appointed prime minister. Until April 16, 2017, the president was mandated to cut ties from his party and maintain a largely neutral and apolitical stance, regardless of personal attachments or viewpoints. Now the office of prime minister is kaput and the president will have way more control over all branches of government. Parliament will still make laws and the judiciary will still try cases. But they’ll do little else and even those duties are capable of being bypassed by the president pretty easily.

The changes don’t go into effect until 2019 but when they do, the Turkish president can pass decrees as effective and codified as any parliamentary law, dissolve parliament, call for new elections, set the budget, declare a state of emergency, make unilateral national security decisions, appoint and remove all VPs and ministry heads at their own discretion and more. Don’t worry! If the president does something illegal, they can still be investigated if there’s a simple majority in parliament and a 60% vote to be tried then convicted by presidentially appointed judges.

And it’s so completely unconcerning the person who’ll most likely have all this unchecked executive power in 2019 is current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Just think of his inspirational and relatable backstory—he sold lemonade as a teenager in a rough part of town, played soccer for a while and wrote, and directed and starred in a play called Maskomya about how Freemasonry, Communism and Judaism are evil forces hellbent on destroying the world. Presidents: they’re just like us!

Yes, well much of this sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?  Liz Cookman has argued that Turkey could be our future under Kremlin Caligula assuming the FBI and Eric Schneiderman don’t catch up with so many of his thugs that Congress has to act.  There are some frightening similarities.

Trump has voiced his support for the use of torture. And his similarities with the Turkish leader do not end there. Both use a rhetoric of patriotism to the point of nationalism, are vocal against abortion and are infamous for their tendency to objectify women and misunderstand feminism. They have both granted their sons-in-law important positions and both have a particularly thin skin when it comes to criticism, especially when it comes from comedians and journalists.

Erdoğan and Trump have publicly supported each other’s stance on the media in the past. Anyone who has spent time in Turkey will recognise Trump’s denouncement of negative coverage in outlets such as the New York Times as “fake news”. They will be familiar with headlines such as the one that appeared in far-right outlet Brietbart (whose founding member Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist), used in relation to the protests in the US on Saturday – “Terror-tied group Cair causes chaos, promoting protests and lawsuits as Trump protects nation”. This is pure Erdoğan territory – denouncing opposition by associating it with terror while glorifying the strong leader. Turkey is the home of “alternative facts”.

A country that makes the media the enemy is a country where people are too easily manipulated by those in power. Journalists in Turkey, unless they work for organisations that toe the official government line on events, constantly wobble on a tightrope between reporting what’s going on and not reporting enough to get arrested. Even foreign journalists self-censor, double-check for unintended “insults” that could land them in trouble. They flinch when the doorbell rings unexpectedly, and wonder every time they go abroad whether they will be allowed back in the country.

We need to stand up against the vilification of the free press in the US now before it goes too far. Erdoğan is no longer good for Turkey, just like Trump is no good for America. They are changing the identities of their countries.

Not only English writers but French journalists notice the similarities.

But, back to the UK and Counterpunch.

The similarities between Erdogan and Trump are greater than they might seem, despite the very different political traditions in the US and Turkey.

The parallel lies primarily in the methods by which both men have gained power and seek to enhance it. They are populists and nationalists who demonise their enemies and see themselves as surrounded by conspiracies. Success does not sate their pursuit of more authority.

Hopes in the US that, after Trump’s election in November, he would shift from aggressive campaign mode to a more conciliatory approach have dissipated over the last two months. Towards the media his open hostility has escalated, as was shown by his abuse of reporters at his press conference this week.

Manic sensitivity to criticism is a hallmark of both men. In Trump’s case this is exemplified by his tweeted denunciation of critics such as Meryl Streep, while in Turkey 2,000 people have been charged with insulting the president. One man was tried for posting on Facebook three pictures of Gollum, the character in The Lord of the Rings, with similar facial features to pictures of Erdogan posted alongside. Of the 259 journalists in jail around the world, no less than 81 are in Turkey. American reporters may not yet face similar penalties, but they can expect intense pressure on the institutions for which they work to mute their criticisms.

Turkey and the US may have very different political landscapes, but there is a surprising degree of uniformity in the behaviour of Trump and Erdogan. The same is true of populist, nationalist, authoritarian leaders who are taking power in many different parts of the world from Hungary and Poland to the Philippines. Commentators have struggled for a phrase to describe this phenomenon, such as “the age of demagoguery”, but this refers only to one method – and that not the least important – by which such leaders gain power.

So, I’m sure this isn’t what you expected to read today.  But, it appears that my interest and concerns aren’t just wild hairs.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Wednesday: Nothing, it seems, is ever enough…

imageGood Afternoon

By now you have heard and seen the latest terroristic threat from Trump. Actually, Trump’s violent assassination request has a name…There’s a Name for Trump’s Violent Incitement Against Hillary: Stochastic Terrorism | BNR

Donald said at a rally: “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick— [boos from audience] If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” 


Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.

Donald’s point about Hillary was unambiguous.

What he was doing, as explained by feminist law professor and reproductive rights activist David S. Cohen, was engaging in “stochastic terrorism,” which is “an obscure and non-legal term” meaning to use “language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable,’” a sort of incitement well-known among those familiar with anti-choice violence.

Writes Cohen: “Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog-whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog.”

The sort of diffused threats that are a feature of stochastic terrorism are, unfortunately, extremely familiar to me. As a feminist progressive woman with a public profile, these are the kinds of “not really threats – wink!” I get all the time: Hoping someone else will rape and/or kill me.

Or “warning” me that someone might – if I insist on keeping up my work. Being on the receiving end of those words for more than a decade: I know what Donald meant.

It is chillingly familiar.

[…]

This man openly incited violence against a woman, who also happens to be a presidential candidate – which makes his exhortation possibly criminal, too.

imageDoesn’t it make your blood boil? This article is written by Melissa McEwan, she continues focusing on the feminist angle. You can read the rest at the link, but I prefer to focus on the main issue…feminist or not.

What the fuck!!! This is a real presidential candidate, running for the Republican Party, and he called for the assassination of his running mate and “future” president!

I’ve spent months watching and listening to the horrors that spew from Trump’s mouth…as we see, this is yet another time that Trump has, “Gone too far,” only to get away with inciting violence and murder against Hillary and Supreme Court Justices.

 

Trump’s Assassination Dog Whistle Was Scarier Than You Think – Rolling Stone

One day after his widely discussed “reboot” in which he did nothing more than read basicRepublican economic talking points from a teleprompter, Donald Trump uttered perhaps his most outrageous – and dangerous – ad-lib yet. And that’s saying something for a campaign in which he’s criticized John McCain for being a prisoner of war, characterized Mexicans as rapists, called for banning Muslims from coming into the country, picked a fight with a Gold Star family and urged Russia to hack his political opponent.

Speaking to a crowd in Wilmington, North Carolina, Tuesday, Trump expressed concern about Hillary Clinton possibly picking Supreme Court justices and other judges. He then said, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”

Let that soak in for a second. One of the two major-party nominees for president just called for “Second Amendment people” to “do” something about his political opponent’s judges. According to the Trump campaign’s rapid response team, he was talking about those “Second Amendment people” coming together politically – “unification,” as they called it. The Clinton campaign, and pretty much the entire Internet, saw it differently: as a clear suggestion of violence against a political opponent.

It’s hard not to side with the Clinton campaign here. What Trump said was that a particular group – those who are defined by rallying around guns – should do something about Clinton and her judicial nominees. What can people who rally around guns do that’s different than others? Use those guns.

But it’s really irrelevant what Trump actually meant, because enough people will hear Trump’s comments and think he’s calling for people to take up arms against Clinton, her judges or both. Though most of the people hearing that call may claim he was joking, given what we know about people taking up arms in this country, there will undoubtedly be some people who think he was serious and consider the possibility.

In other words, what Trump just did is engage in so-called stochastic terrorism. This is an obscure and non-legal term that has been occasionally discussed in the academic world for the past decade and a half, and it applies with precision here. Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication “to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”

Let’s break that down in the context of what Trump said. Predicting any one particular individual following his call to use violence against Clinton or her judges is statistically impossible. But wecan predict that there could be a presently unknown lone wolf who hears his call and takes action in the future.

Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog.

Those of us who work against anti-abortion violence unfortunately know all about this. Valerie Tarico wrote about this form of terrorism following the Planned Parenthood murders in Colorado Springs last November. The pattern she noted there is 100 percent applicable to Donald Trump and his supporters right now – except that we haven’t yet had the major act of violence at the end of the string. As Tarico wrote:

“1. A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past ‘purges’ against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the ‘tragedy.'”

This explains Donald Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton to a letter. He has 1) demonized her whenever he can by calling her “Crooked Hillary” and constantly degrading her; 2) organized a convention around which the central theme, repeated over and over, was that Clinton is a criminal who needs to be locked up, clearly using fear and moral disgust as motivators; and 3) is now using violent metaphors (or “jokes,” if that’s what you think his statements were) against her, just short of an explicit call to arms.

Now we just have to hope that #4 doesn’t come about – that violence does not erupt. Though, if it does, we know exactly what Trump and his supporters will say: that they never could have foreseen this tragedy.

Donald Trump Suggests Shooting Hillary Clinton, Her Supreme Court Picks, Or Both

 

 

Donald Trump hints at assassination of Hillary Clinton by gun rights supporters | US news | The Guardian

His extraordinary remark on Tuesday was swiftly condemned by Democrats. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said: “This is simple – what Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting took place in Newtown in 2012, went further in a tweet: “Don’t treat this as a political misstep. It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”

British novelist Salman Rushdie then weighed in, tweeting: “Of course the Trump flacks are now trying to confuse the issue, but Senator Murphy is clear about what Trump meant.”

The claim was rejected by Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama and longtime Trump supporter. He responded on CNN: “Totally wrong. I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t believe that’s at all what he meant.”

But Sessions acknowledged: “It may have been awkwardly phrased.”

As the usual line goes, Trump is allowed to explain his “true” meaning behind his words:

Trump said later in reply to Sean Hannity on Fox News that he was referring to the political movement around the Second Amendment.

Hannity asked: “You know, so obviously you’re saying that there’s a strong political movement within the Second Amendment, and if people mobilize and vote, they can stop Hillary from having this impact on the court. But that’s not how the media is spinning it. What’s your reaction to it?”

Trump replied: “Well, I just heard about that, and it was amazing because nobody in that room thought anything other than what you just said. This is a political movement. This is a strong, powerful movement, the Second Amendment … there can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me – I mean give me a break.”

Trump has been striving to show more discipline on the campaign trail after astring of gaffes in recent weeks. He remained in control in Detroit on Monday when a speech on the economy was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. But in Wilmington, he apparently could not resist going off-script.

Campaigners for gun control expressed outrage at his off-the-cuff remark. Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, said: “Donald Trump continues to pander to the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists who thrive on fear and rhetoric.

“Any suggestion that gun violence should be used to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing supreme court justices is dangerous and reckless. It’s no surprise that 50 GOP national security experts have signed a letter making a pledge to not vote for him.”

And this…

The concern was echoed by Paul Begala, a former adviser to Bill Clinton in the White House. “This is not something that should be joked about,” he told CNN. “I hope in the best case you could say he was joking. It didn’t seem like a joke to me. Tony Schwartz, the guy who wrote [Trump’s book] The Art of the Deal, says Trump never jokes.

“I fear that an unbalanced person hears that in this inflamed environment and, God forbid, thinks that was a threat. I certainly take it as a threat, I really do, and Trump needs to apologise.”

Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, said on the same channel:

“Well, let me say, if someone had have said that outside the hall he’d be in the back of a police wagon now with the secret service questioning him.”

As yet another controversy threatened to engulf him, Trump’s campaign insisted that his words had been misunderstood. Jason Miller, a spokesperson, attempted to explain the candidate’s comments. “It’s called the power of unification,” he said. “Second amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker called the uproar over Trump’s remarks a “distraction created by the dishonest media.”

JUST IN: Elizabeth Warren Responds To Trump’s Assassination Threat, Wins ENTIRE Internet (TWEET)

Another thought for everyone, Giuliani: Trump supporters would cheer Trump’s call to assassinate Hillary – AMERICAblog News

imageIn perhaps the worst attempt ever at damage control, Donald Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani attempted to defend Trump’s call yesterday for Hillary Clinton to be assassinated.

Giuliani told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that had Trump actually called for Hillary to be assassinated, the crowd would have gone wild.

Wait, what?

Video at the link.

The Real Joke is Paul Ryan – The Bob and Chez Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump invoked the Second Amendment at a rally yesterday evening and implied that gun owners may need to shoot Hillary Clinton or the Supreme Court judges she nominates as president.

That was not a joke and it isn’t funny, but Speaker of the House Paul Ryan insists that it was.

“I’ve been a little busy today. I heard about this Second Amendment quote. It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that,” Ryan said at a press conference after winning his Republican primary. “I didn’t actually hear the comments, I only heard about those comments.”

A joke gone bad is a toady like Paul Ryan ever being treated like a serious person and being third in line to the presidency. Assassination is not a joke.

Donald Trump once said he could shoot someone and not lose support over it and I think he was right. There’s nothing Trump could say or do that would prompt Speaker Ryan to withdraw his support for Trump.

 

Fox News’ Dana Perino: If Hillary Made Same Trump Remarks: ‘We Would All Be Going Crazy’ | Crooks and Liars

Trump Idiots Can’t Seem To Agree On What He Meant By ‘Second Amendment People’ Comment Either

Trump Spokeswoman Offers A New Explanation For ‘2nd Amendment’ Line

I think that should cover the latest on Trump.

How about a little more outrage, since I am sure you are up for it?

A white homeowner called 911 to report ‘hoodlums’ outside. Then he fatally shot a black man. – The Washington Post

Chad Copley told the 911 operator to send a police car fast — he was “locked and loaded,” he said, and going outside to confront a group of “hoodlums.”

“We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing,” the 39-year-old Raleigh man told the dispatcher early Sunday morning. “I’m going outside to secure my neighborhood.”

The dispatcher, responding to Copley, asked: “You’re going to do what?”

“I’m going to secure my neighborhood,” Copley said.

He continued: “I’m on neighborhood watch. I am going to have the neighborhood meet these hoodlums out here racing up and down the street. It’s 1 in the morning. There’s some devil in them. They have firearms and we’re going to secure our neighborhood. If I was you, I would send PD out here as quickly as possible.”

A few minutes later, Copley was on the phone with dispatchers again.

This time, haltingly, he explained the aftermath:

“I yelled at them, ‘Please leave the premises,’ ” he said. “They were showing firearms, so I fired a warning shot and uh, we got somebody that got hit. …

“I fired my warning shot like I’m supposed to by law. … They do have firearms, and I’m trying to protect myself and my family.”

The dispatcher pressed for more information: Who’s been shot, how badly are they injured — and where, exactly, is the victim?

“Please just send a car,” Copley responded. “There’s friggin’ black males outside my friggin’ house with firearms. Please, send PD. Thank you.”

He then hung up.

When officers arrived, they found a 20-year-old black man, Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, dying of a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

Life in a post-Zimmerman world.

Please read more about this murder at the link.

One more article, it is an op/ed, from Huffington Post. I think the headline says it all, and for me…I do not agree with it, 71 Years Ago: When Truman Failed To Pause — And The Nagasaki War Crime Followed

Nagasaki a war crime?

I have one thing to say, war is hell. Sherman meant to destroy the southern audacity so that it would never forget what happened, that was his message behind his march to the sea…

Those bombs showed the world that nuclear war is the ultimate in devastation, the finality that must be realized, justified and acknowledged with the coming of a nuclear age. It was required to end World War 2, and necessary as a warning of what will come if diplomacy is not the main path to peace going forward. I do not believe it was a war crime.

And, I don’t think we should be wiping out our history and revising it…I’m not talking about changing the names of elementary schools that honor KKK founders…but I have a difficult time with some memorials being eliminated completely. They should remain but I feel that other monuments or large prominent historic markers should be added to explain the historical significance. Make it a real teaching moment for people who see these old statues and carvings on a mountain. (Yeah, carve another monument on Stone Mountain…a memorial to Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman etc.)

Last link is a fun one.

Accidental Censorship Of Olympic Divers Makes Them All Look Like Porn Stars

Every four years something really cool happens during men’s Olympic diving competitions: The scores that show up on screen cover the diver’s groin area, accidentally making it look like porn.

Here’s an example of that from the London games:

Here's an example of that from the London games:

BBC / Via fmforums.co.uk

And here are a bunch of examples of it happening in Rio. Let your mind wander because you sure as hell know we won’t judge. After all, we’re the ones who spent hours screenshotting these in the first place.

 

Some of these shots are hilarious.

Dicks out, thumbs up!

Dicks out, thumbs up!
NBC

WYD, CHEN?!

WYD, CHEN?!
NBC

#FREETHESPEEDO.

#FREETHESPEEDO.
NBC

Hmm?

Hmm?
NBC

Ummm?

Ummm?
NBC

He’s like, “Why are you naked, dude?”

He's like, "Why are you naked, dude?"
NBC

Naked friends are the best friends ❤

Naked friends are the best friends <3
NBC

Butt.

Butt.
NBC

If you haven’t noticed, his name is Steele Johnson.

If you haven't noticed, his name is Steele Johnson.
NBC
And that is all for me today. See y’all in the comment section below.

Wednesday Reads: Listen to me

(listen to me)  helena almeida, 1979

(listen to me) helena almeida, 1979

Morning All

This post is going to have a theme focused on women in photos with their mouths being silenced in some way.  Whether it is tape, a hand, skin, whatever…the point of the images is that the women are not being listened to.

It all started with a little make-up project my daughter and her two best buddies were working on the other day.

From left to right: Jehma, Bebe and Tori

From left to right: Jehma, Bebe and Tori

She sent me the images below and said it represented something specific to them. She said they wanted me to use it for the blog…for a post about how women are not being listened to, even when they actually do speak out about things.

How they are being systematically silenced…

I get the feeling that the girls have talked out loud in their classes the past week and were frustrated that they were not being heard.

If you look at the way the skin is formed over the mouth it is not completely covering it…you can still see openings where the flesh is being stretched apart…

 

Well, Bebe is the model, Tori is the make-up artist and Jehma is the photographer. I think they did a great job on this…Tori is gifted with special effect make-up. The whole group is very creative, they are always out doing something like this.

Anyway, as you read the links I have for you this morning, you can look at the other images and know where the thought process came from.

Okay, on with the post.

bb4708931abb218219a6af0166036c82If the man isn’t shutting up women, or not listening to them, he is lying to them:

Arizona Senate Passes Bill To Allow Doctors Lie To Women Without Consequence If It Prevents Abortion

Imagine finally getting pregnant, showing up for your N/T or anatomy scan, and learning that there is a terrible genetic issue with your baby.  You have two choices: terminate the pregnancy, or continue it, aware of the issues you will be dealing with after birth and arranging the sort of medical assistance you will need for your new situation.

Now, imagine having no idea that your baby has any issues until you give birth, because your doctor lied to you.

Arizona thinks that is just fine, as long as it prevents an abortion.

fd528d6328ec7efc0c24b92640241bb0Via Addicting Info:

It’s called a “wrongful birth” bill and it’s all about preventing women from having an abortion, even if it kills them. The Arizona Senate passed a bill this week that gives doctors a free pass to not inform pregnant women of prenatal problems because such information could lead to an abortion.

In other words, doctors can intentionally keep critical health information from pregnant women and can’t be sued for it. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, “the bill’s sponsor is Republican Nancy Barto of Phoenix. She says allowing the medical malpractice lawsuits endorses the idea that if a child is born with a disability, someone is to blame.” So Republicans are banning lawsuits against doctors who keep information from pregnant women so as to prevent them from choosing to have an abortion.

Canada’s Next Top Model (Cycle 3), sent along by Julie C., included a photoshoot in which the models’ mouths were covered with duct tape

Canada’s Next Top Model (Cycle 3), sent along by Julie C., included a photoshoot in which the models’ mouths were covered with duct tape

How is a woman supposed to feel comfortable trusting her doctor with this sort of bill on the books?

What I don’t understand is how they can pass this kind of shitty law, I mean…lawsuits? Insurance companies? Liability Claims? WTF? And that does not even take into account the fact that this is just batshit fucked up in the first place. Ugh.

Hey, but why even bother lying, just don’t tell em anything: N. Carolina Legislators Decide Teens Don’t Need To Know About Sex | Crooks and Liars

Go to the link to read about that.

More stories on keeping a woman down:

e32a72c3e2fa109936d641209523d9b9Florida pastor rants: God wants men to rule women — but men can’t rejoice without being sued

ere is no leadership except for male leadership, according to a Florida pastor.

During a March 29 sermon about leadership, which was recently highlighted by the Friendly Atheist blog and the Bad Preachers YouTube account, Pastor Bill Lytell of the Gospel Baptist Church told his congregation he was proud to have a “male leadership” sign outside the church because “this is a man’s world.”

Lytell said that after a 9-year-old boy found a gun in the church’s bathroom last month, he was happy that a local media outlet filmed the “male leadership” sign during its coverage of the incident.

“And that’s going to go out throughout the whole country. Do you know what we’d have had to pay to do something like that?” he remarked. “That was probably a hundred thousand dollar gift. I’m not going to thank the person that left the weapon, however.”

PAINTED SHUT

PAINTED SHUT

“Don’t you be ashamed you go to a church with male leadership,” Lytell said. “Every church that’s right with God oughta have a sign: ‘Male Leadership.’ Because that’s the only kind of leadership, both from Adam all the way to the last part of the Bible. It’s all been male. This is a man’s world!”

“And all the men said, ‘Amen!’” he continued. “There aren’t many places were men can ever rejoice anymore without feeling about half-ashamed because they try to put you down or sue you or something, but brother this is a man’s world. You can say what you want, you can do what you want, but God made Adam in leadership and it’s going to end with a man in leadership. It doesn’t make men better, it is just God’s way.”

Pleeeeeaaaazzzzzzz!

National Review Likens Concern Over Campus Sexual Assault To “Mass Hysteria” Of Salem Witch Trials | Blog | Media Matters for America

fb11b9614681696abf9df4dd73703695National Review‘s Kevin Williamson declared that the epidemic of campus sexual assault “is a fiction” and compared efforts to curb the crime to “mass hysteria” during the Salem Witch Trials.

Rolling Stone recently retracted its controversial article on sexual assault at the University of Virginia, following a review by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) which determined the report to be a “journalistic failure.”

National Review correspondent Kevin Williamson responded by issuing a blanket denial of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. “There is no epidemic of rapes on American college campuses,” Williamson wrote. “The campus-rape epidemic is a fiction.” He likened outrage over campus sexual assaults to “mass hysteria” during the Salem Witch Trials and “the Satanic-cult hysteria of the 1980s and 1990s.”

a0ff11bcada7b2d5470986a2e2e417d9But sexual assault on college campuses is a serious issue — and one that experts say is vastly underreported.Experts have estimated that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while at college, and the problem may be even more serious than statistics on the crime reveal. According to the Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, sexual assault is “one of the most under reported crimes,” with nearly 70 percent of crimes going unreported to police.

National Review‘s response to the CJR report on Rolling Stone takes the very position CJR explicitly warned against. In its review, CJR cautioned that the Rolling Stone case should not be used to discredit the larger movement to address campus sexual assault, writing, “It would be unfortunate if Rolling Stone‘s failure were to deter journalists from taking on high-risk investigations of rape in which powerful individuals or institutions may wish to avoid scrutiny but where the facts may be underdeveloped.”

822f11e50e338ce59f623c12afc9a976And then you have the Judges who won’t listen either: Judge tosses ‘sex slave’ claims involving Prince Andrew – NY Daily News

A Florida judge has tossed out explosive claims from a woman who said she was forced into having sex with England’s Prince Andrew when she was a teenager.

In a ruling Tuesday, Judge Kenneth Marra denied a bid by “Jane Doe No. 3 and Jane Doe No. 4” to intervene in a long-running court case alleging the feds gave preferential treatment to billionaire perv Jeffrey Epstein.

More at the link.

You can’t just deny their testimony? Then beat them: ‘Family Values’ Lunatic Todd Kincannon Arrested Just For Showing Wife Who’s Boss | Wonkette

Now there’s a mugshot that ought to gladden the hearts of many. Rightwing bile duct and former chairman of the South Carolina GOP Todd Kincannon was arrested Monday evening and is facing a charge of criminal domestic violence charge in court Tuesday. His arrest follows a March 26 incident in which Kincannon’s wife, Ashely Griffith, said that he had threatened to kill her, her family, and himself during a terror-filled drive home from a work event; she also told a Lexington County, South Carolina, sheriff’s deputy that they had a “history of unreported domestic violence” and that she feared Kincannon.

After news of the incident broke, Kincannon swore up and down that he was simply having a bad reaction to some prescription medication that had caused him to hallucinate, which didn’t quite explain why Griffith seems to have hallucinated that history of abuse, or the recordings of previous threats of suicide and murder that she told the deputy she’d made. Lesson: the Party of Personal Responsibility really needs to stay away from drugs, which turn loving family men into monsters.

af58d8e5b01e500b6b792a55a518d2a3And in our last link of silencing a woman, in anyway or anyhow: 100-year-old killed his sleeping wife with an ax in a gruesome murder-suicide | Tampa Bay Times

You can read that one if you want…I won’t quote from it at all. The fact is he was 100, she was 88.

Links now on that South Carolina murder by cop:

The murder of Walter Scott-Will Bunch via AttyTood

Here are some things that we know about Walter Scott.

Scott was a 50-year-old black man, pulled over on Saturday in North Charleston, S.C., by a white member of that city’s predominantly white police force, for driving with a broken tail light.

He was not armed.

3aa640b981e29027bc4aff6a735a6c02He was wanted on a Family Court warrant, presumably for past non-payment of child support — and family members say he desperately did not want to be arrested.

We know that after a brief encounter with Officer Michael Slager, he turned and tried to run away from the lawman at top speed.

And here’s one other thing we can say about Walter Scott with an unwavering sense of certainty: He absolutely did not deserve to die.

Yet the South Carolina man might have been just another statistic — just another one of the 100 or so Americans killed now every month in a police-involved shooting — were it not for one thing. This time, the final critical moments of  Walter Scott’s life — including the eight shots that Slager fired at Scott’s back as he fled — were captured clearly on a cell phone video.

And so this case is going down very differently from the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner,Michael Brown, and other unarmed black suspects — deadly force that has caused a national uproar about policing in 21st Century America.

This time, Officer Slager has been arrested and charged with murder.

The Execution of Walter Scott (VIDEO) – The Daily Banter

White police officer charged with murder for fatally shooting black man in the back | theGrio

White South Carolina Police Officer Charged in Black Man’s Death

White SC officer charged with murder in black man’s shooting – WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Last Call For Eight Is Enough

In relation to this murder in SC: Connecticut study finds black drivers stopped more than whites | Reuters

And meanwhile in Georgia: Georgia prison guards resign after viral beating photo posted to Facebook | theGrio

But let’s not leave Texas out of the fun: Confederate group will fly 32 battle flags over MLK Drive at Civil War memorial in Texas town

Speaking of Texas: Federal judge refuses to lift injunction on Obama’s immigration order – LA Times

Judge Slams Justice Department For “Misconduct” In Immigration Case – BuzzFeed News

84ae6ef27bb9b820e0a43fc76c514cd4Those two links are interesting, so read them in full.

A little more crazy: President Rand Paul’s Middle East Policy | Informed Comment

And just a few more links:

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel wins second term | US news | The Guardian

Balloon activist sends ‘thousands of copies’ of The Interview to North Korea | Film | The Guardian

Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, and Helen Mirren To Team Up for Tina Brown’s Women in the World Summit | Still4Hill

James Best, Bumbling Sheriff of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ Dies at 88 – NYTimes.com

James Best, who played the oafish sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the hit television comedy “The Dukes of Hazzard,” died on Monday near his home in Hickory, N.C. He was 88.

The cause was pneumonia, his friend Steve Latshaw said.

Mr. Best was in demand as a character actor from the 1950s through the ’80s; by his count he appeared in more than 600 television show episodes and 85 films.

His Southern twang and rugged good looks made him a natural on westerns like “Wagon Train” and “Gunsmoke” and rural series like “The Andy Griffith Show.” Among the films in which he appeared were “The Caine Mutiny” (1954), with Humphrey Bogart; “The Left-Handed Gun” (1958), with Paul Newman; “Shenandoah” (1965), with James Stewart; and “Three on a Couch” (1966), with Jerry Lewis.

His best-known role by far was Rosco on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” a countrified car-chase comedy seen on CBS from 1979 to 1985. The producers originally envisioned him as a hard-nosed sheriff, but Mr. Best saw him differently. “I said, ‘I’m going to play Rosco like a 12-year-old who likes hot pursuit,’ ” he told NPR in an interview in 2013.

He was also in Ode to Billy Joe, that was a serious role too…and he was also in this weird film called Shock Corridor (1963)  if you ever get a chance to see it. He was one of those actors who was in so many films, you would be amazed…take a look here: James Best – IMDb

Supposedly there is a story about Best, told by Catherine Bach…see the little clip below…it should start at the 6:15 minute:

Well, Bach remained close friends with Best throughout the rest of his life.

Anyway, my brother still loves the Duke Boys…and they are a huge part of my childhood, even if the idiot Cooter was talking shit just a few weeks ago. Still, if you ever spot James Best in one of his many roles just try to remember that image of him as Roscoe P. Coltrane, Playgirl Centerfold Extraordinaire.

This is an open thread, have a good day.


Sunday Reads: Sinatra Suite and Other Distractions

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

Good Morning

Two days left, and if you are sick of all the campaign commercials on TV…then I think you will agree, we all could use some distractions.

For me this is going into week three of hell, so I have been up to my ass in distractions=QatQi

But I won’t bitch about the TCM blackout again…

So let’s just start the post with a link that got the whole post going.

From HuffPo: A Brief But Stunning Visual History Of Ballet In The 20th Century

As holiday season approaches, visions of sugar-plum fairies inevitably begin dancing in our heads. ‘Tis the time of “The Nutcracker,” and other classic ballet performances that countdown to a whole new season of dance across the world. In honor of the possibilities of the 2014-2015 season, we dug into the photographic archives of Getty and the Associated Press to find the most iconic snapshots of ballerinas and prima donnas over the ages.

Below is a brief but beautiful visual history of the art form, ranging from 1911 to 1999. From Vaslav Nijinsky to Benjamin Millepied, Anna Pavlov to Sylvie Guillem, the collection of vintage portraits gives a mostly black-and-white glimpse into over a century’s worth of ballet greats. Much has changed in terms of representation and body image over the years, and while we can only hope to see more diversity, it certainly shows in these images. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Vaslow Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) as the faun at the premiere of Ballet Russe’s production of “L’Apres-midi d’un Faune” at the Theatre du Chatelet Paris in May of 1912. (Photo by Edward Gooch/Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

 

It is brief, and they do miss out on a lot of artist…many from the 1970s, when there was a surge in professional dancers that really kicked some ass. So as you can see…I have added to the articles images throughout this thread. Enjoy the pictures of some of the best dancers evah! And be sure to watch the videos too, I bet you have never seen these performances. (Oh yeah, and keep a mental note of that picture of Nijinsky, because we will come back to it in a moment.)

Like this one, from 1984…it is Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite:

Originally broadcast in 1984 over New York’s WNET/Thirteen on “Great Performances,” as part of the “Dance in America” series Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra and More… film. Mikhail Baryshnikov, along with members of American Ballet Theatre, dance three works choreographed by Twyla Tharp: “The Little Ballet,” “Sinatra Suite,” and “Push Comes to Shove.”

 

 

Damn that man could dance…mmmm, and he was gorgeous too.

Another production from the same year that I think you will enjoy…I have a two clips featured  below but you can see the entire show here: Evening at the Met – 1984 – YouTube  100th anniversary celebration at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This performance took place on May 13, 1984.

And that picture of Nijinsky, well…in this 100th anniversary performance, Lillian Gish introduces  Nijinsky’s “Le Spectre de la Rose” danced by Patrick Dupond.


The ballet was first presented in Monte Carlo on 19 April 1911. Nijinsky danced The Rose and Tamara Karsavina danced The Young Girl. It was a great success. Spectre became internationally famous for the leap (jump) Nijinsky made through a window at the ballet’s end.

That alone is something you need to see. (Click on Lillian Gish name above…)

Along with that Huffpo link, here is a Buzzfeed post that has some beautiful images: Gorgeous Vintage Photographs Of Ballet Dancers

 

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Many more at link.

Video time:

First up, two performers that were amazing together:

Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun

My favorite of the bunch has to be Taming of the Shrew…

This is the performance from the 1984  Met show:

 

Here is their version of Romeo and Juliet:

 

 

Next up,

Manon Act I Pas de Deux – Antoinette Sibley & David Wall

 

Giselle Act II Pas de Deux – Alicia Alonso & Jorge Esquivel

 

Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella – Grand Pas de Deux  ”Don Quixote”

 

Le Grand Pas de Quatre 1/2 – Les Ballets Trockadero

 

Dammit…now I have to post some news shit. Okay. But I am going to be quick about it.

10f5c7b51a78bd6683d2cfcbd2bd4b5bBoko Haram: Kidnapped Girls Have Been Married Off, Truce Never Happened

A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.

Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he his filmed from a distance.

But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.

“We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.

“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”

The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.

Leslie Browne

Leslie Browne

Police seek driver in California hit and run that killed 3 trick-or-treaters | Reuters

Detectives continued their search on Saturday for the driver of an SUV who struck and killed three teenage girls trick-or-treating on Halloween in Southern California, and investigators were unsure who was behind the wheel of the vehicle, a police spokesman said.

The three girls, ranging in age from 13 to 15, were in costume and carrying candy bags when they were hit while crossing a street on Friday evening in Santa Ana, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Los Angeles.

Officers found the sports utility vehicle abandoned behind a nearby retailer, said Santa Ana police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna.

Later on Friday night, police went to an address registered as the home of the vehicle’s owner, but the occupants of the house had no connection to the SUV, Bertagna said.

Detectives are unsure where the registered owner of the vehicle might be living, or whether the SUV had been stolen before the hit and run collision, he said.

I wonder if this was some sort of gang initiation thing…those kids were walking in the crosswalk when they were run over. Two of the kids were sisters, twins.

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

This caught my eye via Politics USA: Minority Voter Suppression In North Carolina Witnessed Firsthand

It is harder to vote in North Carolina these days. On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, gutted a landmark provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A majority of the justices struck down Article 5 of the Act, which had required federal preapproval of changes to voting practices in southern states. Eviscerating Article 5 effectively halted its protections and set the stage for sweeping efforts to disenfranchise minorities, women, the elderly and students. Six weeks later, emboldened by the Court’s ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the nation’s most restrictive voting law all in the name of “preventing voter fraud.”

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012)  Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012) Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Lawsuits challenging the law have been filed by various organizations including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. The ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sought to have certain provisions of the law stayed until the trial scheduled for summer of 2015. The request for a stay was denied at the district court level, but the district court’s decision was reversed by a three judge panel at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court struck down the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had stayed many of the 2013 North Carolina’s laws restrictions thus instituting widespread voter suppression.

Read the rest…if you can.

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

In connection to the link above… Jim Crow returns | Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.

Gelsey again...

Gelsey again…

Ya got that? 2 miiiiiiiillllllliiiioooon names.

The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey

The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”

You know what that reminds me of, what this redneck says in this scene from Mississippi Burning:

 

 

Pertinent part starts around 0:35 min but the whole damn clip is good.

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

One more on race: Spike Lee: Idea that America is a post-racial society under Obama is ‘bullsh*t’

n an interview with Fusion TV, director Spike Lee dismissed the notion that America has become a post-racial society under a black president, calling the belief ‘bullsh*t.”

Speaking with Fusion host Jorge Ramos about race in America, Lee touched upon multiple subjects including the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Asked by Ramos what he tells his children about race in America, Lee replied “I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know know what the deal is.”

Prompted to elaborate by Ramos, Lee continued.

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

“That you’re black. It just means that you’re black. And the people who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black,” Lee explained. “You can’t just think I’m so successful that I’ve reached another realm. And I’m in a so-called post …” at which point Lee asked the audience for help remembering the term ‘post-racial’. “Yeah, that bullsh*t, where now that we have a black, African-American president that race no longer matters. And there are times, even today, it’s hard for me to catch a cab sometimes. In New York City.”

Asked by Ramos why, in 2014, incidents like the deaths of Garner and Brown by police officers still happening, Lee said, “There’s a big division for the police departments, I think, in this country, versus people of color.”

Addressing the death of Garner, Lee noted that the chokehold was banned over twenty years ago.

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Lee said that, after seeing the video of Garner being held and choked to death by police officers,  he couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the chokehold that killed the character Radio Raheem (see video below), in his landmark 1989 film, Do The Right Thing.

In the film, the death of Raheem set off rioting and the destruction of the neighborhood.

Video at the link.

More right-wing shit: Arizona School Board Votes To Get Rid Of Textbook Pages That Discuss Abortion

An Arizona school district is making sure that students are not educated about abortion in biology class.

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

This week, Gilbert Public Schools’ governing board voted to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because the pages talk about mifepristone, a pill that can induce an abortion, reports local outlet 12 News. Members of the board contended that the pages violate a state statute, which prevents school districts from providing instruction that “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion,” says the outlet.

The specific section in question is titled “Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy.” It says that “complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control, but other methods are effective to varying degrees.” The passage, from the seventh edition of Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections, goes on to describe the morning-after pill and mifepristone.

Why can’t these bible thumpers keep it to themselves.

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

The issue was first brought to the board’s attention after the conservative Christian organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote a letter to the district’s superintendent in August, saying that the textbook violates state regulations, reports the outlet. The board voted 3-2 to redact the pages in question, although it is unclear whether the district will remove the specific pages or blacken unwanted passages, says local outlet KTVK-3TV.

Notably, the Arizona Department of Education previously reviewed the textbook and said it was not violating the state statute. An attorney for the district said the same, reports local outlet the East Valley Tribune. As a result, one of the board members who voted against changing the textbook, Lily Tram, called the move an example of censorship.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

And how about this for thumping: FL Supreme Court removes judge for running Christian ministry business from her courtroom

What is it with these people?

There was almost a major accident in NYC: ‘Human Error’ Caused Drill to Hit Train — NYMag

On Thursday, a ten-inch construction drill bit pierced the ceiling of a subway tunnel near 21st Street–Queensbridge station, almost impaling a crowded F train. Luckily, the conductor hit the brakes when he felt the drill touch the train, and no one was hurt. How did this close call occur? According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, someone screwed up.

Cynthia Gregory

Cynthia Gregory

“At this point in the investigation, the incident appears to have been caused by human error and doesn’t involve equipment malfunction,” Ortiz told the New York Daily News. That human is employed by Griffin Dewatering New England Inc., a contractor working on the East Side Access Project, which will eventually connect the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central. Ortiz also said that “officials have determined further drilling for the project isn’t needed,” which should be of some comfort to F train riders, who have been forced to put up with a lot lately.

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

And in world news:  Argentina asks Spain to arrest 20 Franco-era officials

An Argentine judge has asked Spain to arrest and extradite 20 former officials accused of abuses during the military rule of General Franco.

They cannot be tried in Spain because of an amnesty law but the officials could be prosecuted in Argentina.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

The families of alleged victims asked Argentina for help because it has an extradition treaty with Spain.

In April, Spain’s high court refused to extradite to Argentina a former policemen accused of torture.

Judge Maria Servini de Cubria issued the arrest and extradition warrants for two former ministers of General Franco’s regime, and 18 other officials, invoking “universal jurisdiction” – a legal doctrine that authorises judges to try serious rights abused committed in other countries.

Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charisse

Using the doctrine, Spain briefly detained Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

The two most prominent suspects in Judge Servini’s investigation are Rodolfo Martin Villa, 79, who was Franco’s interior minister, and Jose Uteri Molina, 86, who was housing minister.

Give that a read, it is interesting…I wonder how it will all turn out.

Some of you may have gotten a chance to see this flick on TCM, Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows : moviemorlocks.com – Elevator to the Eyes of Jeanne Moreau

Here is a look at ” The study of mimicry shows a close relationship between scientific psychology and the theatre, says Tiffany Watt-Smith.”   :BBC News – The human copying machine

And our last link…Tower of London poppies: Why they make a fitting memorial – The Independent

Tube closures and warnings of a crush of visitors couldn’t keep half-term crowds from Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies on Saturday.

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan

It is easy to visualise each poppy as a death.

…shocking splashes of colour in the poppies installation – the bloody wave over the walls, the crimson stream flowing from a window, the narrow ribbon of red in the moat. But nothing prepared early spectators for what followed. In box after box, they arrived, ceramic flowers and stalks, assembled at random heights by volunteers, many too young to have known a relative involved in the First World War.

Every evening, when the Last Post was sounded and the names of the dead were read at dusk, the installation looked complete. And then came another vivid tide, and another, and another, relentless.

6dd3f610bd5544c30e212a10a6365444How do you remember 888,246 lives? We cannot take in the numbers, though we have seen enough news bulletins to know about mass deaths. To single out one soldier’s story helps us focus, but overlooks the rest. Live footage, fictional re-creations, cannot help us with the scale of loss. But it is easy to visualise each poppy at the Tower as a death, for we have grown up associating the flower with remembrance. We do not need to see a single face or coffin to feel a lump in the throat: we know how to love and grieve.

A solemn ending I know…but it is the beginning of November. The weather is dreary and cold and damp, we even had snow in Banjoville this weekend. And as for the Fall Foilage? There was none this year.   The leaves just turned to brown. Very depressing and such a let down. I hope it is not a premonition of things to come this Tuesday. We will be here to live blog the Election Day event, so please stop by  the blog. Otherwise, if you are around today, leave a comment or thought…and have a pleasant day.

Below are all the pictures in this post, plus a few I could not fit so give them a look if you like…


Friday Reads: Economic Anemia

Good Morning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Associated Press writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?