Monday Reads: World Press Freedom Day

Ker-Xavier Roussel Reading the Newspaper, 1893, Private Collection Édouard Vuillard

Happy World Press Freedom Day Sky Dancers!

A Free Press is enshrined in our Constitution here in the United States. It’s always been a hallmark of open, democratic societies.  So, how is the press doing in this day of increasing right-wing authoritarianism?

Here’s the 2020 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters without Borders.  Notice who is missing from the top ten? Notice where most of the world’s oldest Democracies land.  One of our NATO allies is one of the most frequent jailers of journalists.

A Press–independent of government oppression and manipulation–is a cornerstone of a democratic society.  EuroNews reports the concerns the UN has for a media free of government interference..

The world of journalism faces “drastic losses”, the UN has warned, as it highlights the importance of ‘information as a public good’ on World Press Freedom day.

The intergovernmental organisation says the current coronavirus crisis has forced closures and job cuts within the industry, while other media outlets are facing “political capture”.

The result is more “creeping news deserts” in countries where journalists are unable to get accurate information out to the public.

You may read country descriptions based on the Press Freedom Index on the challenges faced by journalists.

Elaine de Kooning, self portrait, 1946

We may be going back towards normalcy with the White House recognizing the role of a free press today. You may remember that we spent the last four years hearing how the press was the enemy of the people unless it presented stories that flattered and backed-up the delusional rantings of the previous guy.  It is also high time the Saudis pay for killing one of our journalists.  This is just one of the atrocities the previous guy ignored.

Will Biden stand up to the Saudis for the Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi?   This is from NBC.

The Biden administration earlier this year released a U.S. intelligence report implicating the crown prince in the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but spared him any direct punishment. The prince denies any involvement.

Burns, Peter; Old Man Reading a Newspaper; 

There is perhaps no greater difference in our press than the split between the media  using traditional journalism and the lie pushing, agenda based narrative for something other than reality just for ratings, outrage, and political gain.  Our right-wing propaganda outlets have influenced nearly all of our institutions recently. They do not provide checks and balances to corruption but enable it.  No one is the clear these days. Even the U.S. Supreme Court Justices–a majority group of religious zealots with know records of hostility to democracy–are eager to cash in.   This is from Bloomberg: “Supreme Court’s Ethics Problems Are Bigger Than Coney Barrett. As conflicts of interest accumulate, the justices need to embrace more stringent standards of conduct.”  

We have impeached judges before.  Is this the decade of taking out the trash dumped in our justice system?  Perhaps we could at least develop and enforce standards of ethical behavior for judges?

A lot of hand-wringing has accompanied Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s $2 million book deal (including from those of us who wish we had a $2 million book deal). While there’s always reason to worry when big piles of money land on the court, and Coney Barrett has wasted little time monetizing her new job, some larger points are getting lost in all of this.

After all, Coney Barrett isn’t the first justice to reel in a big book deal. Justice Sonia Sotomayor collected an advance of more than $3 million for her memoir, and Justice Clarence Thomas got $1.5 million for his. Justice Neil Gorsuch was paid $225,000 for a book about the Constitution. Here’s the rub: Federal ethics guidelines mandate that justices can’t accept more than about $30,000 annually in outside pay. However, book income — which can reliably bring in much larger sums than the relatively modest pay justices receive for teaching gigs — is exempt from the guidelines.

When these deals arise, concerns are often voiced about justices being compromised by pocketing money from publishers who might have free speech and other issues affecting them before the court. But books are only a small part of a bigger problem: The Supreme Court’s conflicts of interest and financial disclosure rules remain ragged and outdated.

Unlike every other member of state and federal judiciaries, the court’s nine justices aren’t subject to an ethical code of conduct. That mirrors the latitude given the presidency, which also isn’t beholden to most guidelines circumscribing financial and professional practices of people in lower-ranking government jobs. Former President Donald Trump’s tenure, marked by flagrant financial conflicts of interest, is a reminder of how ineffective self-regulating ethics are when someone isn’t really interested in self-regulation.

Woman with a newspaper, Richard Diebenkorn

The danger of right-wing propaganda to our Democracy has been an ongoing issue in the last several centuries. It has always skirted the First Amendment in terms of substance and motivation. We depend on an educated populace to search out the truth among many sources.  The role it has played in putting public health issues into the realm of political cosplay is beyond the pale.  Derek Thomas writes this for The Atlantic: “Millions Are Saying No to the Vaccines. What Are They Thinking?  Feelings about the vaccine are intertwined with feelings about the pandemic.”  It’s also intertwined with politics and right-wing news media falsehoods.

What are they thinking, these vaccine-hesitant, vaccine-resistant, and COVID-apathetic? I wanted to know. So I posted an invitation on Twitter for anybody who wasn’t planning to get vaccinated to email me and explain why. In the past few days, I spoke or corresponded with more than a dozen such people. I told them that I was staunchly pro-vaccine, but this wouldn’t be a takedown piece. I wanted to produce an ethnography of a position I didn’t really understand.

The people I spoke with were all under 50. A few of them self-identified as Republican, and none of them claimed the modern Democratic Party as their political home. Most said they weren’t against all vaccines; they were just a “no” on this vaccine. They were COVID-19 no-vaxxers, not overall anti-vaxxers.

Many people I spoke with said they trusted their immune system to protect them. “Nobody ever looks at it from the perspective of a guy who’s like me,” Bradley Baca, a 39-year-old truck driver in Colorado, told me. “As an essential worker, my life was never going to change in the pandemic, and I knew I was going to get COVID no matter what. Now I think I’ve got the antibodies, so why would I take a risk on the vaccine?”

Some had already recovered from COVID-19 and considered the vaccine unnecessary. “In December 2020 I tested positive and experienced many symptoms,” said Derek Perrin, a 31-year-old service technician in Connecticut. “Since I have already survived one recorded bout with this virus, I see no reason to take a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use. I trust my immune system more than this current experiment.”

Others were worried that the vaccines might have long-term side effects. “As a Black American descendant of slavery, I am bottom caste, in terms of finances,” Georgette Russell, a 40-year-old resident of New Jersey, told me. “The fact that there is no way to sue the government or the pharmaceutical company if I have any adverse reactions is highly problematic to me.”

Many people said they had read up on the risk of COVID-19 to people under 50 and felt that the pandemic didn’t pose a particularly grave threat. “The chances of me dying from a car accident are higher than my dying of COVID,” said Michael Searle, a 36-year-old who owns a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. “But it’s not like I don’t get in my car.”

And many others said that perceived liberal overreach had pushed them to the right. “Before March 2020, I was a solid progressive Democrat,” Jenin Younes, a 37-year-old attorney, said. “I am so disturbed by the Democrats’ failure to recognize the importance of civil liberties. I’ll vote for anyone who takes a strong stand for civil liberties and doesn’t permit the erosion of our fundamental rights that we are seeing now.” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, also told me he didn’t vote much before the pandemic, but the perception of liberal overreach had a strong politicizing effect. “When COVID hit, I saw rights being taken away. So in 2020, I voted for the first time in my life, and I voted all the way Republican down the ballot.”

974 Expressionist Oil Painting Woman Reading Newspaper

We’re fucked at this rate.  And, here’s FiveThirtyEight explaining where we see the big divides in American Voters.

In many ways, the 2020 election was basically like every recent American presidential election: The Republican candidate won the white vote (54 percent to 44 percent, per CES), and the Democratic candidate won the overwhelming majority of the Black (90 percent to 8 percent), Asian American (66 percent to 31 percent) and Hispanic (64 percent to 33 percent) vote. Like in 2016, there was a huge difference among non-Hispanic white voters by education, as those with at least a four-year college degree favored Biden (55 percent to 42 percent), while those without degrees (63 to 35) favored Trump. (There wasn’t a huge education split among voters of color.)1

Other surveys tell the same general story: Trump won white voters overall by a margin in the double digits and won whites without four-year degrees by even more; Trump lost among whites with at least a four-year college degree, lost by a big margin with Asian American and Latino voters and lost by an enormous margin among African Americans.

So the main reason that Trump nearly won a second term was not his increased support among Latinos, who are only about 10 percent of American voters and are a group he lost by more than 20 points. Trump’s main strength was his huge advantage among non-Hispanic white voters without college degrees, who are about 45 percent of American voters. His second biggest bloc of support was among non-Hispanic white Americans with degrees, who are about 30 percent of all voters. According to the CES, over 80 percent of Trump’s voters were non-Hispanic white voters, with or without a college degree. In contrast, around 70 percent of nonwhite voters supported Biden, and they made up close to 40 percent of his supporters. So it is very much still the case that the Republicans are an overwhelmingly white party and that the Democratic coalition is much more racially diverse.

Here’s the President of Orleans Republican Women to prove a point: President of Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans Touts Biblical Positives of Slavery.   That scream you hear from way down on the Mississipi River is mine.  Yeah, for small, local,  independent media like The Big Easy Magazine!

The story began when Chalmette State Representative Raymond Garofalo proposed a bill where-in he wanted to ban “critical race theory” from being taught, a complex subject that conservatives have been using as a talking point recently to score political points. He said that he, in fact, wanted to “teach the good, the bad, and the ugly” about slavery. To which Hilferty replied, “There’s nothing good about slavery” to laughter.

Garofalo corrected himself, saying that, “You’re right. I didn’t mean to imply that. I don’t believe that, and I know that’s the case. But I’m using the term, ‘the good, bad, and ugly as a generic way of saying that you can teach any facts, factually based on anything.”

Both Hilferty and Garofalo have spoken directly to the media about the incident. Garofalo has tried to clarify his words, explain the terminology “good, bad, and ugly” was meant “generically,” and Hilferty claimed he was, “…talking about the good in slavery.”

Whether Garofalo meant that there were good aspects to slavery or whether he was speaking “generically,” Huckaby repeatedly came to his defense, and to the defense of slavery itself. The above was not her only post related to slavery and Garofalo. She also wrote in another post, “Slavery goes all they [sic] way back to biblical times, and if you’ve read your Bible, you would know that many of the slaves loved their masters, and their masters loved them, and took very good care of them, and their families.”

In addition, she indicated that, “Stephanie (Hilferty) has been indoctrinated by leftis [sic] marxisum [sic] education.”

So, hmm, I’m a communist troll in her eyes.  So bet it!  At this point, I’ll take any moniker that doesn’t include what she’s all about.

Anyway, you’ll have a good week!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: “Historic meeting between two dictators…”

 

I think this part of Boston Boomer’s post title from yesterday was spot on: “These Days I Often Cry While Reading News” …yup, I do that too! Only I would take it a step further, and say that lately, I often start to hyperventilate and have anxiety attacks while scrolling through the Twitter feed. (I am not being hyperbolic with that statement either. I do start to hyperventilate.) I can feel my breathing becoming more intense and faster…forward towards out of control. My heart rate increases dramatically. My palms sweat and feel distinctly cold at the same time. I can actually feel my eyebrows becoming one, from the pained expression my face has contorted into…

Yeah, I think we all know that feeling I am describing above…am I right?

That is why this little asteroid of a nugget that passed my way this morning made me cringe:

 

 

And as you will see, no one corrected the “misstatement?” If that is what the fucking thing was…

Fox & Friends host slips: Trump’s North Korea summit is a ‘historic meeting between two dictators’

During an interview with former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, [Abby] Huntsman interrupted to noted that Trump had arrived for the summit in Singapore.

“There is the president of the United States, Donald Trump, about to walk down those [Air Force Once] stairs, stepping foot in Singapore as we wait this historic summit with the North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un.”

“Anthony, talk to us about this moment,” she said, turning to Scaramucci. “This is history. We are living — regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators — what we are seeing right now, this is historic.”

Scaramucci then agreed… adding that Trump is a “disruptive risk taker”…not even missing a beat while continuing to fawn over the tangerine ass mouth, lavishing more praise on his dear leader as the segment went on. Video at the link.

 

The links I bring you today are pretty much things you may already be aware of, I don’t know anymore…War with Canada? I guess things are going as Putin planned?

 

To reiterate:

Trump removes U.S. from G-7 joint statement over escalating feud with Canada’s Trudeau – The Washington Post

President Trump feuded with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and threatened to impose penalties on foreign automobile imports Saturday, capping an acrimonious meeting of the Group of Seven industrial nations that further frayed ties between the United States and its closest allies.

Trump said Saturday evening that he had instructed U.S. officials to withdraw support for a joint statement with other member nations he had backed just hours earlier, saying the United States would not join after Trudeau publicly criticized Trump’s trade policy.

 

European officials described things much differently. Their leaders confronted Trump about how his protectionist policies had given them no choice but to retaliate with tariffs of their own, a person familiar with the encounter said. These tariffs, they told Trump, would hurt everyone. Trump had tried to essentially splinter the European leaders by negotiating some changes with Germany and different ones with France, but those leaders appeared locked together.

They had been careful not to reveal their approach before meeting with Trump, although it appeared very calculated.

“If you have a strategy, do not explain your strategy before the meeting — because if you are explaining your strategy before the meeting, you are losing your strategy,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters.

(I thought that was funny…don’t know why.)

In Trump, some fear the end of the world order – The Washington Post

“What worries me most . . . is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged,” European Council President Donald Tusk said as the G-7 summit got underway. What is surprising, Tusk said, is that the challenge is driven not by the “usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor, the U.S.”

 

By the way:

Kudlow was on the Sunday shows, fucking things up even more:

Speculation on the Twitter is that Kudlow is drunk.

 

 

I don’t know, that sounds like crazy shit to me….Dak, your thoughts?

 

This is something>>>>

And I think we should revisit this thread:

 

And if all that shit doesn’t scare the shit out of you:

Senators Corker and Kaine Want to Give President Trump the Authority to Wage Worldwide War | American Civil Liberties Union

Over the many years since Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2001, the ACLU has dedicated itself to defending the civil liberties and human rights that have been threatened as a result of this resolution and its successors. The harms have included the drone killings of American citizens, broad surveillance of American citizens, the kidnapping and torture of suspects, and indefinite detention without charge or trial, even of an American citizen apprehended in the United States.

Now, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are working on a new AUMF that is even more damaging to our freedoms.

It would be hard to overstate the depth and breadth of the dangers to the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights that the Corker-Kaine AUMF would cause. The Corker-Kaine AUMF would give the current president and all future presidents authority from Congress to engage in worldwide war, sending American troops to countries where we are not now at war and against groups that the president alone decides are enemies.

Uh, yeah…you read that, Kaine.

The Corker-Kaine AUMF would authorize force, without operational limitations, against eight groups in six countries. The president could then add to both lists, as long as the president reports the expansion to Congress. To be clear — the president would have unilateral authority to add additional countries — including the United States itself — to the list of countries where Congress is authorizing war. And the president would have unilateral authority to add additional enemies, including groups in the United States itself and even individual Americans, under its new authority for the president to designate “persons” as enemies.

Their proposal also contains a sleeper provision with the innocuous title, “Sec. 10 Conforming Amendment,” that would create a new legal basis for the military to capture and imprison individuals in indefinite detention without charge or trial. This greatly expands the scope of the infamous indefinite detention provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Like the NDAA, the Corker-Kaine AUMF has no statutory prohibition against locking up American citizens or anyone picked up in the United States itself. While we continue to believe it would still be unlawful for a president to try indefinite detention of an American citizen in the United States (again), there is no reason for Congress to risk it.

About that photo released by Merkel:

 

Let’s look at a few other photos from the G7 Summit:

 

Macron had a couple good ones…he released his own tRump smackdown picture…you can see he is looking exasperated as he jesters toward the tRump asshole below:

 

 

What do you think he was saying to him? What’s a matter with you?

Oh wait, that is more of an Italian thing right?

(tRump has that covered as well, you see, he is already love crazy over Italy’s newly elected right-wing prime minister.)

 

Wow, the hard on tRump gets for these far right assholes is disgusting.

Back to Macron: Did you see the lasting impression he left on tRumps little hand?

Riot!

Just a few other links for y’all:

Update on What Senator Jeff Merkley Saw at an Immigrant Detention Center for Children | The Nation

Can you describe to me what you saw there?

I’ll tell you what was very difficult to see. One room had smaller cyclone fences—they look like the way you construct a dog kennel. They’re larger, but that’s the thought that comes to mind when you see them. Then they have these space blankets [light foil blankets], which is a very strange sight, to see kids using a space blanket as a cushion—but they don’t provide any cushion—or as a cover for privacy. There’re no mattresses in that section.

After they go through interviews, they go into a big warehouse. I called them cages, and the White House said that’s unfair, they aren’t cages. Well, call it a cell, then. It’s a cyclone-fence-constructed area. There were all these boys in this big enclosure, maybe three to four dozen boys, and they lined up, from smallest to largest, to get ready to go eat. The tiniest kid at the front of the line, he was knee-high to a grasshopper; he was 4, maybe 5 years old. They go up to age 16 or 17.

I understand that the McAllen facility operated under the Obama administration, to accommodate the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America we saw in 2014. Do you know whether the children you saw last weekend are mainly unaccompanied minors, who came here alone, or whether they’re mainly kids who’ve been separated from their parents under this new DOJ policy?

Well, some may have come as unaccompanied minors, but many have not. The 4-year-old, it’s extremely unlikely he did, I suppose an older brother might have brought him across, but he was just so, so tiny. Many of them are kids who were taken away from their parents, in that facility. I asked: “Where are the kids who’ve been separated from their parents?” And they said “Here.”

But here’s the thing—as soon as they take the kids away from their parents, they call them “unaccompanied minors” too! I asked, which are the kids who came alone, and which came with their families, but no one could tell me. We do know that during a 12-day period in May 658 kids were separated from their families. We know that the number of immigrant children detained without parents went up 21 percent from May to June.

Another question is: Where do the kids end up, and can the parents reach them? They told me, “Oh yes, they get an A code,” and I asked, “Well, what’s an A code,” and it turns out it’s an “alien code,” a number where they can be tracked through the system. So it’s really not a difficulty for parents to find their children, they said. But the children are actually in one agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the parents are in another agency, the Department of Homeland Security. And according to immigration advocates I spoke with, they’re saying it’s actually not easy to track down the kids. The younger kids may be in a foster family, where the foster family doesn’t speak Spanish.

Fucking hell.

 

Ugh…I can’t take anymore!

 

This is an open thread.

 

I just want to share one more thing with you.

It is personal, but it is too sweet not to post…

Here is the wedding video from my daughter’s wedding. It is done by Izra Lopez, to the song

L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole.

 

It’s lovely and hopeful. And not just because it is my kid…the video is awesome.

 

Y’all have a better day today, here’s to love and hoping that tRump doesn’t fuck things up beyond repair this week.


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?

 


Independence Day Reads

Middleton_Manigault_-_The_Rocket_(1909)

by Middleton Manigault – The Rocket (1909)

Happy Independence Day Team USA!

Here’s how the Kennedy family is spending their 4th of July! “Kennedy family BASHES Trump over Fourth of July weekend with a pinata of The Donald at their Cape Cod compound.”  That sounds like some nice harmless fun and very politically incorrect.  The Trumpster should approve but I doubt his thick skull or thin skin will be able to take it in that spirit.

The Kennedy clan gathered at their Hyannis Port compound on Cape Cod over the weekend for their annual Fourth of July festivities, and took some time to attack Donald Trump.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kathleen, between known as Kick, posted a photos of a pinata of The Donald from a family party over the weekend.

‘It’s yuge party!,’ wrote Kick in the caption of the Instagram post, which also showed some of her family members milling about in the background.

She later deleted the Instagram post just before 11am on Monday.

Yes, some of us are still rocking in the free world while we can!

There’s a lot of sadness today as we stop to think about Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dhaka where ISIS attacks have killed hundreds of innocent people pis4who were simply going about their day. Our hearts go out to the places that have suffered these massive tragedies.  I’m also reminded today of Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule. 

Powell: What I was saying is, if you get yourself involved—if you break a government, if you cause it to come down, by invading or other means, remember that you are now the government. You have a responsibility to take care of the people of that country.

Isaacson: And it got labeled the Pottery Barn rule.

I, for one, care about these attacks.  I’ve not seen the graphics, the heartfelt “I’m with …” sloganeering, and the banal, jingoistic calls exclaiming that “it’s a war on the Western World.” That’s because it isn’t a war on the Western World.  It’s a war on modernity.

This is a fight we brought to the front door step of many countries–including Iraq–that were not to blame for anything when we invaded Iraq.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and the bungled occupation that followed, Baghdad has been the site of numerous rounds of sectarian bloodletting, al-Qaeda attacks and now the ravages of the Islamic State. Despite suffering significant defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army, including the loss of the city of Fallujah, the militant group has shown its willingness and capacity to brutalize the country’s population.

Public anger in the Iraqi capital, as my colleague Loveday Morris reports, is not being directed at foreign conspirators or even — first and foremost — at the militants, but at a much-maligned government that is failing to keep the country safe.

“The street was full of life last night,” one Karrada resident told The Washington Post, “and now the smell of death is all over the place.”

Vintage-Fireworks-Posters-and-Labels-for-The-Fourth-of-July-1Iraq is being invaded once more and Baghdad is still a shadow of itself in a country with little ability to truly defend its borders and people.

By Monday afternoon the toll in Karrada stood at 151 killed and 200 wounded, according to police and medical sources. Rescuers and families were still looking for 35 missing people.

Islamic State claimed the bombing, its deadliest in Iraq, saying it was a suicide attack. Another explosion struck in the same night, when a roadside bomb blew up in popular market of al-Shaab, a Shi’ite district in north Baghdad, killing two people.

The attacks showed Islamic State can still strike in the heart of the Iraqi capital despite recent military losses, undermining Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of victory last month when Iraqi forces dislodged the hardline Sunni insurgents from the nearby city of Falluja.

Abadi’s Shi’ite-led government ordered the offensive on Falluja in May after a series of deadly bombings in Shi’ite areas of Baghdad that it said originated from the Sunni Muslim city, about 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital.

Falluja was the first Iraqi city captured by Islamic State in 2014, six months before it declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria. Since last year the insurgents have been losing ground to U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.

“Abadi has to have a meeting with the heads of national security, intelligence, the interior ministry and all sides responsible for security and ask them just one question: How can we infiltrate these groups?” said Abdul Kareem Khalaf, a former police Major General who advises the Netherlands-based European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies think tank.

He said Islamic State, or Daesh, “has supporters or members everywhere – in Baghdad, Basra and Kurdistan. All it takes is for one house to have at least one man and you have a planning base and launch site for attacks of this type.”

In a sign of public outrage at the failure of the security services, Abadi was given an angry reception on Sunday when he toured Karrada, the district where he grew up, with residents throwing stones, empty buckets and even slippers at his convoy in gestures of contempt.

He ordered new measures to protect Baghdad, starting with the withdrawal of fake bomb detectors that police have continued to use despite a scandal that broke out in 2011 about their sale to Iraq under his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki.

4001-fireworks_in_tondabayashiSo, today our skies will light up with fireworks that we will purposefully set off to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Hitts_promotional_postermoving forward with liberating our nation from British rule. It’s odd to think that the fall out from colonialism is still going on today and that the fireworks that light up many other places do not represent the symbolic act of a war of Independence but one of oppression and terror.

I’m not sure how many of you will stop by on this holiday to say hi so I’m going to just make this a brief greeting with the one bit of news.   However this is, as always, an open thread and there are other things going on including the election of the next President of the US. 

This is another thing that should give us pause as we continue to clean up the mess of the Bush Administration, and actually the mess left behind by others of his predecessors like Ronald Reagan whose adventures in South and Central American made every one in those countries a lot less safe.

If we’re unable to purse our own liberty and happiness then we can change that under our system of government.  But then, think again what it means when our actions prevent that dream for others.  My heart weeps for all of those who live in countries that we helped break.  We own it.  I think Hillary Clinton understands this.  I think Donald Trump would rather we walk away from our mess.  We broke it. We own it.  Let’s just hope the rest of the coalition of the willing hangs in there with us as we try to stop the carnage.

Have a great 4th!!!  May the fireworks near you be only the celebratory type and not the bullets from another crazed shooter or the ignition of a suicide vest!  May all beings be free from harm!!!

4627294295_283b68b83bTake a swing at a Trump pinata for me!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: This stuff cures everything…even hiccups?

f4039d14e16caa1ebe3760c8ced3a5f3Good Morning

or

Afternoon

 

Okay, it is going to be another post brought to you by a heavy dose of vintage advertisements.

While searching for sexist and just flat out, crazy ass ads for Wednesdays post…I came across some old clinical advertisements that were aimed at doctors, specifically psychologist/psychiatric doctors.

I guess these were the prescription medications that drug companies would have advertised in medical journals? Whatever, some go back to the early 50’s. A few are earlier than that…most are from the late sixties, and seventies. I added a couple that are just “over the counter” (that is tongue in cheek  because it is more like snake oil stuff if you ask me) you will get which ones I am talking about. These are the adverts that were just too good to pass up, I had to share them with you.

5c93105b7430452e61dcb61fed32301eAs with my other threads…the end of the post will have all the images used or not, in a gallery. I hope you enjoyed them, and I found them here and there:

Vintage Advertising of Psychotherapy Drugs on Pinterest | Drugs, Psychiatry and Psychotic

Vintage Pharma & Medication Ads on Pinterest | Drugs, Medicine and Pills

I will say this, Thorazine…wtf?  They have ads for that shit…from psoriasis to bursitis, nausea to old fart’s anger issues, to anxiety and pain, the ads tell doctors to prescribe it before…during and after surgery, hell…it even cures hiccups!

This drug does everything!

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Wow…That is some magical medication there….

I know that I took a shitload of space, but can you blame me?

It looks like they still prescribe this drug, for all I know I am on the thing now…I just don’t realize it. These drug names can get so confusing.

Anyway, on with the actual post…let us see what is going on in the world this Sunday morning/afternoon…

0fff295185f8286c8d1a5cf68f8264acStarting with world news.

It has been a violent weekend, just read these headlines:

10 Dead, 30 Injured as Blast Hits Pakistan Wool Market – NBC News

Burundi violence kills 87 people | Al Jazeera America

Burundian army official said 87 people were killed in violence after three military installations were attacked by armed men, while the discovery Saturday of dozens of bodies which appeared to have been victims of possible retaliatory, close-range executions added further to the severity of the crisis facing the war-torn African country.

Army spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza said Saturday eight security officers were among those killed and 21 others wounded in the fighting. Baratuza said government forces arrested 45 members of the unidentified group that attacked the military installations.

c82beedc36dc3c2c2571d50eef72d590On Saturday, Burundi’s political violence escalated further with dozens of people found shot dead in the capital, Bujumbura. Residents said that security forces searched houses, dragged out some people and shot them, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

“The bodies of dozens of civilians were on the street — most of them young men — many appear to have been shot at close range,” reported Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, who spoke to eyewitnesses in Bujumbura. “Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday’s attacks on the military.”

Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said there were “no collateral victims” during Friday’s clashes. “All the deaths were attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police,” Nkurikiye said. “The enemy was neutralized.”

bb19bac1da2fbf1265843af09be91b1aThe US is urging its citizens to leave the country…Bodies on the streets as violence rocks Burundi – Al Jazeera English

The US government has asked its citizens to leave Burundi as soon as possible after 87 people were found dead in the capital Bujumbura on Saturday, in an escalation of violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s disputed third term.

The State Department said on Sunday that it has ordered the departure of non-emergency U. government personnel and dependents of US government employees from Burundi due to continuing violence.

The State Department’s travel warning also said that the US Embassy can only offer limited emergency services to US citizens in Burundi.

b1ea948f495fbc45b71a072050f09855Friday’s violence was caused by attacks on three army installations, Burundian officials said on Saturday.

And while I was grabbing the quote for this link above…at the Al Jazzera English website, I saw this news alert flash by:

BREAKING:

Russian warship fires warning shots at a Turkish vessel…

Unresponsive ship came within 600 metres of Russian destroyer before it opened fire with small arms: defence ministry.

7fda9ca056642e9c66c41a71c5e8e456Russian warship fires warning shots near Turkish vessel – Al Jazeera English

Russia’s defence ministry says one of its warships fired warning shots at a Turkish vessel in Aegean Sea on Sunday to avoid a collision.

A ministry statement says the destroyer Smetlivy was unable to establish radio contact with the approaching Turkish ship, which also failed to respond to visual signals and flares.

When the vessel was 600 metres away, the destroyer fired with small arms and the Turkish vessel quickly changed course.

9574d8e6a1852cc1f20b7871457b0cfdTurkey’s military attache in Moscow has been summoned by the defence ministry over the incident.

Tensions between Moscow and Ankara have been heightened since a Turkish jet downed a Russian bomber along the Syrian border last month, killing the pilot.

I will have more on this news as it happens….

Continuing with the morning post:

Pope: Don’t Let Sadness Win in These Fearful Times – The New York Times

91f6581383f57c1fbe0c5ee3b603e928Pope Francis called on humanity Sunday not to let sadness prevail because of the many forms of violence afflicting the world.

Francis cited no specific violent event in his homily in a Rome basilica, St. John in Lateran. But he said: “We can’t let ourselves be overcome by weariness. No form of sadness is allowed, even if we would have reason to, because of the many worries and multiple forms of violence which wound our humanity.”

Some promising news, if only just a start….First women elected to Saudi local councils | Reuters

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that at least two women were elected to public office in the conservative Islamic kingdom after winning seats on municipal councils in Mecca and al-Jawf in Saturday’s election.

8d96f6d00084e9f16c9471249554f419 (1)The preliminary results were announced by local districts and published on the official Saudi Press Agency.

The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.

However, the election was for only two thirds of seats in municipal councils that have no lawmaking or national powers, and follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011.

1c53432587871e06e59de2c5d941396a (1)Well, now turning to US news, in this round up…some graphic video.

Suspect tried crawling away from 2 Calif. cops who shot him – NY Daily News

Lynwood shooting: Video appears to show LA police firing at wounded suspect as he crawls away | Americas | News | The Independent
A video has emerged purporting to show the moment two Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a suspect as he tried to crawl away.

Police officials have confirmed the incident took place shortly before midday on Saturday in the Lynwood suburb of the Californian city.

7d34cf837df10e8722725d15df837a03 (1)A brief statement from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the man, who has been named in local media reports as 28-year-old father-of-three Nicholas Robertson, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Eddie Hernandez told KTLA-5deputies responded to a number of calls reporting a person, described as a black man wearing a checkered shirt, carrying a gun.

Take it from there…

In Tennessee, a woman who was so desperate…Woman Charged With Attempted Murder in Failed Abortion – ABC News

A Tennessee woman is charged with attempted first-degree murder for what investigators say was a failed abortion attempt.

4444ee3824deeaf5027d1340de0f832d (1)The Daily News Journal reports (http://on.dnj.com/1NVfyuz ) Anna Yocca, of Murfreesboro, about 33 miles southeast of Nashville, was arrested on Wednesday. She is jailed on a $200,000 bond.

According to a Murfreesboro Police Department report, in September Yocca, 31, filled a bathtub with water and attempted to self-abort with a coat hanger. She began bleeding and became worried about her safety.

Her boyfriend took her to the hospital where doctors delivered a 24-week-old baby weighing just 1.5 pounds. Doctors told investigators the child will need medical support for the rest of his life because of the injuries he sustained.

Yocca is due in court Dec. 21. Jail officials did not know whether she has an attorney.

ffd4d29be4465ac6abe8d575a756f011 (1)Injuries he sustained, or because it was delivered so early?

I don’t know, and I am sure we will hear more about this as the case proceeds. Can you imagine the mental state of this woman? Self abort with a coat hanger in a bathtub?

More Hate, yes with a capital H:

Man arrested on hate crime and arson charges in fire at Coachella Valley mosque – LA Times

A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime and arson related to a fire Friday afternoon at a Coachella Valley mosque.

Carl Dial was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday and booked on five felony charges, including 2d02e5e5617c7ce9c9ba39b5faa8d515 (1)commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and second-degree burglary, according to law enforcement sources and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department booking records.

The fire at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque is one of several incidents over the past week that officials are investigating as possible backlashes from the San Bernardino terrorist shootings. Authorities believe the shooters were self-radicalized Islamic extremists.

And just where does this man come from?

Check out the dudes parents:

Parents of Accused Mosque Arsonist Carl Dial Describe Him as Loner – NBC News

Parents of Accused Mosque Arsonist Carl Dial Describe Him as Loner NBC News

 

They look like a poster promo for a Fox News special report, “War on Christmas” as a featured special guest…”Next up, we interviewed Mr and Mrs Dial, both loyal Fox News Viewers, for their opinion on the left’s abomination…taking Christ out of Christmas.”

50a3a4857beb8adee4dbfb808ca25193 (1)Video at the link….

I am giving you a link to Joe Cannon: Cannonfire– Why did Uncle spy on Johnetta instead of Tashfeen?

He is asking some legitimate questions, even if he puts it in a patronizing way…(regarding the “lady terrorist” comments.) But I may be a bit oversensitive…I don’t know. All other points are well made.

Sticking with the ISIL or terrorism issues for a little longer:

What Islamophobia and ISIL/ Daesh have in Common: The Political Use of Fear By Ian Buruma | (Project Syndicate) | Informed Comment

Hullabaloo-Emptywheel on cancer and malaise


by digby

Marcy Wheeler, usually known for her dissection of dense bureaucratic documents and finding the real meaning behind them wrote a polemic today. And it’s really good

Here is the post Digby is talking about:

1956cff0fcf7d4cc3907f67470bf4dcdObama’s Terrorism Cancer Speech, Carter’s Malaise Speech | emptywheel

The right wingers who insist on calling any attack by a Muslim “terrorism” — who insist on tying the San Bernardino attack to ISIS, even in the absence of evidence — do it to prioritize the fight against Islamic terrorists over all the other ills facing America: over other gun violence, over climate change, over the persistent economic struggles of most Americans. Theirs is a profoundly unpatriotic effort to put war over every other policy priority, even far more pressing ones. That stance has led to a disinvestment in America, with real consequences for everyone not getting rich off of arms sales.

c66d6f52b137b08100bbc68e92dab392Last week, President Obama capitulated to these forces, giving a speechdesigned to give the attack in San Bernardino precedence over all the other mass killings of late, to give its 14 dead victims more importance over all the other dead victims. Most strikingly, Obama called attacks that aren’t, legally, terrorism, something his critics have long been demanding.

Take those two links for what it is worth. I thought it was a good speech. I thought what Obama said about some things,

Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. f00ae3a7e24d514fcd73bdab11540757 (1)Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.

That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

8e17e7c6f549fba56bd7ae45c0936a15 (1)But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.

(Quoted from President Obama’s speech after the San Bernadino Mass Shooting.)

6ebe7bc2b1b782485243d16801bfaec5Another terrorist link for you…in more ways than you think: Gun Linked to Paris Attacks Traced Back to Florida Arms Dealer Implicated in Iran-Contra Scandal | Alternet

Century Arms buys and sells military-grade surplus guns and is one of the largest arms dealers in the U.S.

A gun linked to last month’s Paris mass shootings has been traced back to a Florida arms dealer.

The serial number for a M92 semi-automatic pistol linked to the deadly Nov. 13 terrorist attacks matched one for a weapon delivered by the Zastava arms factory in May 2013 to Century International Arms in Delray Beach, reported the Palm Beach Post.

Michael Sucher, the owner of Century Arms, did not answer calls seeking comment Thursday and the doors to his shop were closed as TV news crews gathered outside.

Employees leaving the arms dealer’s building did not comment on the case, and a woman who works next door said she had no idea the business dealt guns.

7b05a74ede39d33ee9d8b30ac8cac4f9Century Arms buys and sells military-grade surplus guns — with a specialty in buying weapons from overseas and reselling them to dealers — and is one of the largest arms dealers in the U.S.

The company also holds a federal firearms license in Georgia, Vermont, to import and build guns and to import destructive devices such as large-caliber guns and armor-piercing ammunition.

Documents shared by WikiLeaks in 2011 showed Century Arms had illegally traded firearms with the help of “unauthorized brokers.”

The Center for Public Integrity reported that same year that WASR-10 rifles manufactured for Century Arms in Romania had become a favorite of Mexican drug cartels.

d96e51b2b724d22d6cecd6e8b4021e3bJohn Rugg, a former police officer and longtime Century Arms employee, testified before a U.S. Senate committee in 1987 that the company had supplied rockets, grenades and other weapons to Nicaraguan rebels as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.

The export of firearms is heavily regulated, and weapons experts suggested the weapon may have been illegally transferred.

Century Arms sells to individuals or other businesses with a federal firearms license, and its website directs most retail traffic to a network of dealers.

But there are no restrictions on who can obtain those licenses.

415248952c13d7c268fbf6085de304c1Read the rest at the link and remember, every Republican in the Senate, save for one…voted against regulating guns from people on the No-Fly list…Republicans Reject Proposals To Bar People On No-Fly List From Buying Guns : NPR

Enough, now on to other news, election news.

Karl Rove: Donald Trump Would Get ‘Creamed’ Up Against Hillary Clinton

Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid – The New York Times

Barbara Schierenbeck, a 59-year-old nurse in Brooklyn, is swept up in the excitement of potentially electing Hillary Clinton the first female president. She cannot understand why her 19-year-old daughter, Anna, does not feel the same way.

ec5289a720ac54f3b292090cc10fb138“Fifteen or 20 years ago, no one would even think about a woman being president,” Mrs. Schierenbeck said. “Certainly, when I was 20 years old in the 1970s, I don’t think I would even have thought about it.”

But for her daughter, electing a woman, while a nice idea, is not a motivating factor. “I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight for me,” Anna Schierenbeck said. A woman will be elected president “pretty soon” anyway, she said, regardless of what happens in 2016. Why does that woman have to be Mrs. Clinton?

The mother-daughter debate unfolding in the Schierenbeck household reflects a debate taking place across the country, as women of varying ages and backgrounds confront the potential milestone implicit in Mrs. Clinton’s bid very differently. As her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy — or not.

Fucking New York Times.

Cruzing To Des Moines – Lawyers, Guns & Money

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Gawd, that is horrifying enough…fucking hell!

5194f11aa7766cd5087c9a95888e2b8eBalkinization: Ted Cruz’s Supreme Court Memos
I told y’all about the connection with Trump, Facebook Friends, and my suspected Banjoville KKK enthusiast?  Take a look at this: Georgia poll finds wide GOP support for Donald Trump and his Muslim ban | Political Insider blog

Cruz opens up 10-point lead on Trump in Iowa – CNNPolitics.com

Meanwhile, as I write this, the breaking news on CNN:

Trump Defends Muslim Ban Proposal State of the Union with Jake Tapper

40738a67da5a418120350a14b51956a3What a difference between that news coverage and the Al Jazeera English? Innit?


Iowa caucus: Cruz leads Trump in Republican opinion poll – BBC News

We will end the Cruz and Trump shit with a tweet from Cher:

Cher and Her Friend Ted Cruz, ‘Satan Incarnate,’ Have a Really Nice Rapport

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/cher/status/6755775724328509https://twitter.com/tedcruz/status/67571253151247564845

 

 

 

Looks like the asshole Cruz people aka Cruz supporters have done there job to threaten Cher, yup…death threats. Fuck them all…damn I hate these dickwads.

f24986aa673e8865c354ff04b248d088It is getting late, and this post is getting long.

Demographics of the New Gilded Age – Lawyers, Guns & Money

The Institute for Policy Studies has a new report on income inequality:

America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet –­ now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.

The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population ­– plus more than a third of the Latino population ­– combined.

594e0e01c2854cd8b8933da7f453915cThe wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States. Among the Forbes 400, just 2 individuals are African American –­ Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.

The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population. Just five members of the Forbes 400 are Latino including Jorge Perez, Arturo Moreno, and three members of the Santo Domingo family.

With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.

The median American family has a net worth of $81,000. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these typical American families. That’s as many households in the United States that own cats.

5cefc43965e7b0746bf89f9c7764bfb2Some thoughts on the Paris Climate Change agreement:

Can Historic climate agreement protect the world’s most vulnerable people? | Informed Comment

After the COP21 Paris Climate Accord, what we need is an Int’l Climate Court | Informed Comment

Key Points of the Landmark Paris Climate Agreement | Al Jazeera America

Hillary Clinton’s Statement on the Paris Agreement | Still4Hill

In other Environmental news:

7b1b774f7e025cf91c61eb3d10af3276The House Just Voted to Ban Those Tiny Pieces of Plastic in Your Toothpaste | Mother Jones

Water injected underground in OK causing ‘quakes | Al Jazeera America

Oklahoma State University prof. says regulatory choices made decades ago set state up to experience daily earthquakes

U.S. sales of antibiotics for food animals rose over six years: FDA | Reuters

U.S. sales of medically important antibiotics approved for use in livestock rose by 23 percent between 2009 and 2014, federal regulators said on Thursday, fueling concerns about risks to humans from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

e0ae7b62e650e2ce1055f97a17e43643Last year, domestic sales and distribution of such drugs increased by 3 percent, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Public health advocates, along with some lawmakers and scientists, have criticized the long-standing practice of using antibiotics in livestock, arguing that it is fueling the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Agribusinesses defend the practice as necessary to help keep cattle, pigs and chickens healthy and to increase production of meat for U.S. consumers.

0131c2a68349c831c07796fa92baed36“Dangerous overuse of antibiotics by the agricultural industry has been on the rise at an alarming rate in recent years, putting the effectiveness of our life-saving drugs in jeopardy for people when they get sick,” said Avinash Kar, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And before we get to the last few links, a bit of crazy…the crazy ass bat shit kind of crazy…

Did Alleged Abusive Baby-Hoarding Kansas Councilman Steal A Child From Lesbians? Probably | Wonkette

Remember Topeka Councilman Jonathan Schumm, and his sad wife, Allison, and how 9b36105e279258a48fcc3b526471e9c4they were IN JAIL for felony child abuse of at least one of their 16 children? Thanks to excellent reporting by Buzzfeed, we have two new gross pieces of information: what exactly they did to one of their kids (ALLEGEDLY), and how they stole a baby from a lesbian couple, because Kansas.

These Cliven Bundy Impersonators Took Millions in Government Handouts

the annals of freeloading deadbeats.

In June, ranchers in Battle Mountain, Nevada, drove their cattle onto public lands in defiance of orders by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stay off areas affected by the ongoing drought. The ranchers claimed there was no drought and so their animals should be allowed to graze on the land. But at least two ranching families involved in the protest received $2.2 million from a federal drought disaster relief program, according to Reveal. The leader of the protest, Dan Filippini, got $338,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock 29bdc98bcca14f07d0fb7cc394f25a5cForage Disaster Program (pdf) last year. His family received another $750,000 via a trust and corporation. Filippini took the payments despite his lawyer claiming in 2014 that “no drought exists” on the Battle Mountain range.

There are some good words there from Charlie about the whole Scalia thing from earlier in the week too…check it out.<

Gun Nuts Chicken Out After Planning Mock Shooting Near College (VIDEO) «

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We Had Faces Then — Greta Garbo in publicity photos for Camille…

 

Gorgeous!

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stephen Colbert Perform Potential Follow-up to Hamilton | The Mary Sue

Go watch that video, it is rather cute!

 

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(WTF?)

 

And lastly…another video, a big Happy Birthday to Blue Eyes:

Sinatra’s Hometown Celebrates His 100th Birthday

Before Frank Sinatra became a global household name, he was a local boy from a small town across the river from Manhattan. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, his native Hoboken, New Jersey, has him on proud display. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports.

Sinatra 100

​Frank Sinatra at 100 – CBS News

Tony Bennett honors Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday – CBS News

 

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May you all live to be 100 years old and may the last voice you hear be mine!

-FRANK SINATRA

 

Enjoy…That’s life.  BTW, think of this as an open thread.

 

 

 

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