Wednesday Reads: V-Jay D-Day? Nope, Texas’ Vaginas Get Six Week Reprieve

Child's book about rain...see the little rain drops in the clouds? I just had to put up a happy picture.

Good Morning

We had a live blog going last night:

Evening at the Circus: Deep South and Fancy Free! « Sky Dancing

You can catch up with the Clown Show at that link.  If you are not in the mood for a bit of humor, redneck style, then by all means…

NBC Politics – Santorum wins Mississippi and Alabama primaries

Republican Santorum scores crucial Deep South wins | Reuters

Santorum Wins Alabama and Mississippi Primaries – NYTimes.com

Romney wins Hawaii GOP presidential caucuses

Romney wins caucuses in Hawaii, American Samoa – The Washington Post

Born-again Christians dominate GOP vote in AL, MS – Yahoo! News

Alabama and Mississippi Deal Blow to Gingrich – NYTimes.com

Boy, I tell yew what…that thar Sanitorum shore is a Dick….God Bless Him. (Read the post last night to get the joke.)

Since we write the morning reads the night before, I have no idea about the results of the Hawaiian or American Samoan primaries, I will update the post with those numbers in the comments.

Let’s move on with updates on the GOP’s War on Women. Today was the day that Texas Planned Parenthood would be closing their doors due to an asshole’s  Governor’s decision to defund the program because..you know…it helps women take care of themselves. Planned Parenthood Prepares To Turn-Away State-Funded Patients

Planned Parenthood clinics across the state have a little more time before the must turn-away patients in the state’s Women’s Health Program. KERA’s BJ Austin says funding was to be cut Wednesday, but new regulations issued over the weekend allow patients to be seen through April 30th.

According to the article, Planned Parenthood provides basic healthcare, contraception and mammograms for 40% of all women in Texas.

At Planned Parenthood of North Texas, Kelly Hart says even with the extra time this situation is distressing for thousands of Women’s Health Care Program patients.

Hart: I’m hearing more and more stories from our health center managers and the nurses about these patients which just don’t have any idea what they’re going to do.  And it is heartbreaking.

A law professor at University of Georgia wrote an op/ed about all this women stuff.  Eric Segall: The Hypocrisy of the Abortion Debate: Why Conservatives Should Vote Pro-Choice and Leave Planned Parenthood Alone

Over the last two months, Republican politicians in Congress and across the nation have launched a complete assault on women’s health generally and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion specifically. Last Thursday (on International Women’s day no less), Congress debated a completely unnecessary (and potentially harmful) law making it a federal crime for anyone but a parent to accompany a young woman across state lines to seek an abortion, even where the parents are absent or abusive. All over the country, states are enacting anti-abortion laws at record levels designed to deter women from exercising their constitutional right to choose.

As part of this overall effort to prevent women from having abortions, Republicans are also attacking Planned Parenthood on almost a daily basis. Texas recently decided to forego significant federal money to be used to provide health care (not abortions) to poor women solely because of Texas’ desire to strip Planned Parenthood of all financial support within the state. The United States government was almost shut down recently because of Republican hostility to the work of Planned Parenthood (most of which, of course, has nothing to do with abortion). Virtually all of these attacks on the right to choose have been brought by members of the Republican Party who would self-identify themselves as conservatives.

There are many public policy arguments supporting the right of women to control their own reproductive destinies. This essay, however, is only concerned with the one argument that should in a sane world appeal to the very people who are trying so hard to interfere with that right.

(Raises hand.) I have a question, if you are dealing with these fetus fanatics who want to send women back to the days of chastity belts, how can you even begin to expect to have a “sane” argument.

The four men currently running for the republican nomination for president stress individual freedom and governmental non-interference with important decisions as the most important American values. Because they cannot argue with the fact that approximately half our society feels the right to terminate a pregnancy is such an important freedom, on what basis do they support the government’s right to take that liberty away or make it much more difficult to exercise?

The answer, of course, is that these four candidates and other anti-abortion advocates would argue that fetuses are innocent victims who cannot take care of themselves and thus need governmental protection from would-be killers. But, as previously noted, there is significant disagreement in our culture on this question. In totalitarian states, government officials could simply say we know better and we get to choose. In America, however, especially in the eyes of conservatives and libertarians, it is not the government’s job to resolve through coercion and duress issues of freedom that so many in our population view as fundamentally important to living the good life. The argument “we know better,” when there is such disagreement, simply should not be available to people who consistently voice skepticism of intrusive government.

Anti-choice politicians and pundits can scream as loudly, intensely, and as often as they like that abortion is murder but that does not make it so. Many Americans believe the right to abortion is just as important as the right to free speech, the right to practice religion, and the right to vote. In light of that undeniable reality, those in favor of private decision-making and personal freedom should vote pro-choice every time (and not use governmental force to punish an organization so vital to women’s health just because it provides some abortion services). That conservative politicians and pundits often argue and vote otherwise demonstrates the great hypocrisy of the abortion debate and strongly suggests that anti-choice republicans and conservatives only believe in small government and personal liberty when it is their personal, subjective, and contestable views of freedom that get to carry the day.

This next story is one that is so upsetting, I could not write about it yesterday when I read it. Unarmed Black Teen Killed By White Neighborhood Watch Leader

Unarmed Black Teen Killed By White Neighborhood Watch Leader

This is such a sad story: the senseless murder of a high school junior in Florida.

On the evening of February 26, Trayvon Martin, 17, of Miami, FL, was visiting his father in a gated community near Orlando, FL, when he left during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game to get a bag of Skittles for his younger brother.

When Martin returned into the community, with the candy and a soda, Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman, 28, began to trail him.

[…]

When police arrived, they found Martin dead. According to Zimmerman, the shooting was in self-defense, even though the teen was unarmed.

Yet even though it’s clear that he shot the unarmed black boy, Zimmerman, who is white, has not been arrested or charged in the death of Martin.

From Loop21:

The family of the dead teenager is outraged and are demanding that tapes from 911 calls made by neighbors be released to help piece together what happened before, during and after the incident.

“I’m looking for justice for my family,” says Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. “I want answers but I don’t have any to give, not for his mother, his brothers or sisters. We don’t have nothing, but we want answers.”

Neighbors are just as upset that no arrests have been made. Police are saying they need time to conduct a proper and “fair” investigation.

You can watch interviews with Martin’s family here.

And Zimmerman is still free…no arrest, no charges.
Here is another link, the video is something you need to see. Neighborhood Watch Shooting of Trayvon Martin: Probe Reveals ‘Questionable Police Conduct’ – ABC News

ABC News has uncovered questionable police conduct in the investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white neighborhood watch captain in Florida, including the alleged “correction” of at least one eyewitness’ account.

Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee said there is no evidence to dispute self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman’s assertion that he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin out of self-defense.

“Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don’t have the grounds to arrest him,” Lee said.

Martin had been staying at his father’s girlfriend’s house during the night of the NBA All-Star game Feb. 26.

The teenager went out to get some Skittles and a can of ice tea. On his way back into the gated suburban Orlando community, Martin, wearing a hood, was spotted by Zimmerman, 28.

According to law enforcement sources who heard Zimmerman’s call to a non-emergency police number, he told a dispatcher “these a..holes always get away.”

Zimmerman described Martin as suspicious because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly in the rain, police later told residents at a town hall.

A dispatcher told him to wait for a police cruiser, and not leave his vehicle.

So Zimmerman killed an unarmed teen, an unarmed black teen.

Trayvon Martin: Sorry, The First Murder Is Free Of Charge | Addicting Info

As he’s walking home, a car starts following him. The man driving the car is watching him. Trayvon finally turns and says, “What’s your problem?” The problem is he “walks in a suspicious way” – and the guy in the car is a 26 year old neighborhood watch captain who has been stalking him from the convenience store. When Trayvon confronts him, the man gets out of his vehicle and they get into some kind of shoving match. The shoving match ends with the unarmed teenager dead on the ground within sight of his dad’s front yard.

No Charges Against Zimmerman

The details are sketchy as to why, but for some reason Mr. Zimmerman decided earlier that Trayvon was walking suspiciously. I’m not sure what that means but I’m sure it has more to do with the tone of his skin than the movement of his feet. Mr. Zimmerman calls the police to alert them. They tell him to stop pursuing the individual, that they are dispatching a car. Mr. Zimmerman disregards that direction and keeps on tracking Trayvon as he walks “suspiciously” home with his little brother’s candy.

Before the police arrive, they get two more 911 calls about the scuffle. By the time they get there Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman has a bloody nose and a 9mm in his waistband. He claims to have killed the boy in self-defense. On what planet – Bubbaville?

Mr. Zimmerman had absolutely no authority to stalk Trayvon, no authority to confront him on the street and absolutely no authority to shoot him when the kid had the audacity to challenge being followed.

Bill Lee, Chief of Police in Bubbaville

Interestingly enough, the Sanford police saw no reason to arrest Zimmerman, who admitted he just gunned down an unarmed kid on the street walking home from a convenience store. Evidently Mr. Zimmerman is well-respected, has a background in criminal justice. Says Chief  Lee,”It’s not like he went out there looking to shoot somebody.”

HELLOOOOO! He did shoot somebody.

According to the Huffington Post, Trayvon’s dad, Tracey Martin asked the police why Zimmerman hadn’t been arrested. He says the officers told him “they respected [Zimmerman’s] background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean.”

“My question to them was, did they run my child’s background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing. So I asked if Zimmerman having a clean record, did that give him the right to shoot and kill an unarmed kid?”

Evidently so.

The police have questioned Zimmerman twice in the two weeks since Trayvon’s murder, but no charges have been filed. The most recent update from Chief Lee is that there is insufficient evidence to arrest Mr. Zimmerman. After all, he had a bloody nose and grass stains on his shirt.

What Zimmerman must have endured from that young kid he stalked and then murdered? I’m sure Tide will get out the stains out of his shirt, but he sure as hell can’t get the blood off his hands.

If this was episode of Criminal Minds, Mr. Zimmerman would fit the profile of a budding serial killer. You know, the kind that has a hero complex, pretends to be a cop, practices pulling his gun at home in front of the mirror? Who better to take out than a kid Walking While Black.

Trymaine Lee of the Huffington Post has a series of very good articles that you should read. Trayvon Martin

This is a link to Lee’s latest article: Trayvon Martin Case Sent To State Attorney’s Office Amid Growing Tension, Questions About Police Probe

More from a local Orlando news station: Family wants 911 calls released in teen’s fatal shooting

A controversial 911 call is now the focus in the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain.

Martin’s family attorney says that recording will clear up what she believes really happened.

“I think we’re going to hear that this was not a case of self-defense,” says Natalie Jackson. “This is a case of Geroge Zimmerman stalking Trayvon Martin.”

The shooting happened All-Star Weekend at the Twin Lakes gated community in Sanford. Police say 28-year-old George Zimmerman was patrolling the neighborhood when he spotted Martin. Zimmerman called 911 asking for backup, because he believed Martin appeared suspicious.

So far, the 911 recordings haven’t been publicly released. However, Jackson says she has numerous tips from people claiming to have ties to the Sanford Police Department. Those people say they know what’s on the tapes.

There is speculation and Jackson says she has been told from people who have heard the tapes, there is incriminating evidence regarding racist remarks from Zimmerman.

Sanford Police have not recommended criminal charges against Zimmerman, saying right now there is not enough evidence. News 13 asked a department spokesperson to comment on Jackson’s statement regarding the 911 calls, but he declined.

We also attempted to contact George Zimmerman for a comment but were unable to reach him.

Nevertheless, Jackson believes the evidence is in the 911 calls.

“I think the 911 calls will shed light on the fact that George Zimmerman was asked to stay in his car,” Jackson said. “He disregarded that and in two minutes Trayvon was dead.”

Although Sanford Police are finished with their investigation they still will not release the tapes or say what is on them.

Jackson has filed court documents seeking the 911 tapes and expects the judge to rule later this week.

From the Addicting Info link:

The Sandford Police turn the case over to the Seminole County DA on Tuesday, saying they have no grounds for arrest. The DA’s number is 407-665-6000. But maybe it’s time to bring this back from Planet Bubbaville and into the US Justice System. You can contact the US Attorney’s office for Orlando at 407-648-7500.

This is such a disturbing and sad story. I really can’t say anything about it.

We lived in Orlando for about 6 years, my cousin still lives in Winter Park….We used to talk about Sanford being a hotbed of racism. The killing, claim of self-defense, and lack of charges are unreal, like something out of the civil rights era.

Let’s end the post with some lighter news…okay?

Encyclopaedia Britannica Drops Print Edition

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica will cease publishing its flagship encyclopedia and concentrate on its digital offerings.

You know, there is something satisfying in doing research with actual books and papers. You don’t get the same “yessss, eureka I found it” feeling when you use Google. It is like taking the easy way out. (If that makes any sense.)

Scenic Greek Island Shows Signs of Volcanic Unrest–  Okay, so this may not be a “good” thing, but it is very interesting to say the least.

The volcanic caldera on the picturesque tourist island of Santorini is showing signs of unrest. But researchers detecting the caldera’s movement say it doesn’t necessarily mean an eruption is imminent.

The Greek island was the site of one of the most massive volcanic eruptions in history 3,600 years ago. That eruption, which created tsunamis 40 feet (12 meters) tall, may have spawned the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. The volcano last erupted in 1950, albeit on a much smaller scale.

[…]

If a Santorini eruption did occur, Newman said, it would be nothing like the Minoan eruption of 1650 B.C. that birthed the myth of Atlantis. That eruption was a once-in-100,000-year event, and the expansion of the magma chamber happening now is only 1 percent of what would have gone on prior to the ancient blast. [The 10 Biggest Eruptions in History]

Geophysicists are keeping an eye on the caldera, however. An eruption could generate local tsunamis within the Santorini archipelago, Newman said, damaging ports and disrupting ship traffic. Even if the volcano doesn’t erupt, the shifting caldera could increase earthquake risk, and the island cliffs are vulnerable.

One more, The Woman Who Skied Antarctica Solo.

The meteorologist-turned-adventurer Felicity Aston has had a soft spot for Antarctica ever since she learned of the ill-fated British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who loomed as large for her growing up, she says, as characters like King Arthur and Robin Hood. But unlike most of us, Aston never abandoned her dream of emulating her childhood hero. In January the 34-year-old became the first woman to cross Antarctica alone and the first human to traverse the 1,084 mile-long continent without dogs or snowmobiles—although, because she had two food drop-offs, Guinness World Records won’t credit her for a solo crossing.

In any case, the trek took her 59 days of pulling two sledges behind her on skis, securing her tent against ferocious windstorms, navigating glaciers, and rationing a small tub of peanut butter—her only luxury. In the process, she fell even more in love with “that white place at the bottom of the globe.” I spoke with Aston last month, two weeks after her return from the Hercules Inlet, where her journey ended.

Read the interview at the link above.

That is it for me, what do you all think about the killing in Orlando? (Well, Sanford Florida.) And what kind of news stories are you reading about today?

*Correction, Texas Vaginas will get six week reprieve…I had a “slight” miscalculation with the dates. When I wrote this post late last night I transposed the date Texas Planned Parenthood will close, thinking the date was April 3rd and not April 30th. I have changed the title of the post to reflect this correction.


Evening at the Circus: Deep South and Fancy Free!

Evenin’ Y’all!

I got a whopper for you tonight. Well, maybe not a “whopper” but dangit, I’m gonna try…just hope its, “gooder than grits.”

The clowns are in the Deep South tonight, fighting for those:

Fried Chicken Eatin’,

Biscuit Soppin’,

Sheet Wearin’,

Dip Chewin’,

Gun Totin’,

Jesus Freak vote.

Earlier today on CNN the headline read: Will the Deep South Deep Six One of the Candidates…it is no longer there.

Someone must have changed it to: Candidates play expectation game in Deep South primaries – CNN.com

That mysterious disappearing headline gave me an idea though… Now, I’ve got a game for you tonight.

See if you can spot the Onion article or Daily Show and Colbert links from the titles below.

GOP candidates get all Southern with cheesy grits and catfish

Gingrich Takes His Stand In Dixieland

Gingrich Desperately Trying To Court People-Who-Vote Vote

Alabama governor: I voted for Santorum but I don’t endorse him

Is The South Too Republican For Republicans?

Polling in Deep South Has Posed Challenges

Republicans’ Southern Strategy

Santorum, Gingrich vie for Southern supremacy

The South’s turn: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich vie

Romney’s status could be clearer after Deep South primaries

Win Dixie

Mississippi, Alabama votes test candidates’ conservative credentials

Mitt Romney, Jeff Foxworthy Joke About Hunting

Santorum comes from behind in Alabama three-way

Santorum accuses Fox News of ‘shilling’ for Romney

Gingrich Opens Door To Teaming Up With Santorum?

Romney, Gingrich and Santorum Battle in South: Candidates run neck-and-neck in polling in Alabama, Mississippi

Poll: Romney leads three-way race in Texas — but would lose to Santorum one-on-one

The Santorum-Gingrich Stare-Off

You can follow the results of today’s primaries here:

Live blog of Election Day – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs

Heads Up – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

And if you feel like preparing for any exit poll interviews with Alabama and Mississippi voters tonight, may I suggest these handy dictionaries and phrases sites.

Redneck Dictionary Learn ta speak redneck

BARD – verb. Past tense of the infinitive “to borrow.”
Usage: “My brother bard my pickup truck.”

JAWJUH – noun. A highly flammable state just north of Florida.
Usage: “My brother from Jawjah bard my pickup truck.”

MUNTS – noun. A calendar division.
Usage: “My brother from Jawjuh bard my pickup truck, and I aint herd from him in munts.”

IGNERT – adjective. Not smart. See “Auburn Alumni.”
Usage: “Them N-C-TWO-A boys sure are ignert!”

RANCH – noun. A tool.
Usage: “I think I left my ranch in the back of that pickup truck my brother from Jawjuh
bard a few munts ago.”

ALL – noun. A petroleum-based lubricant.
Usage: “I sure hope my brother from Jawjuh puts all in my pickup truck.”

FAR – noun. A conflagration.
Usage: “If my brother from Jawjuh doesn’t change the all in my pickup truck, that things
gonna catch far.”

BAHS – noun. A supervisor.
Usage: “If you don’t stop reading these Southern words and git back to work, your bahs is
gonna far you!”

TAR – noun. A rubber wheel.
Usage: “Gee, I hope that brother of mine from Jawjuh doesn’t git a flat tar in my pickup
truck.”

TIRE – noun. A tall monument.
Usage: “Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I sure do hope to see that Eiffel Tire in
Paris sometime.”

Redneck Sayings Where you can catch up on phrases like:

“Well, knock me down and steal muh teeth!”

“This oughta jar your preserves.”

“Don’t you make me open a can o’ whoop-ass on ya.”

“It’s so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.” 

“It’s been hotter’n a goat’s butt in a pepper patch.”

“Wintery roads are said to be “slicker than otter snot.”
A bothersome person is “like a booger you cain’t thump off.” 
When something doesn’t work, you say, “That ain’t no count.”
If something is hard to do, it’s “like trying to herd cats.” 
“He ran like his feet was on fire and his butt was catchin.”
Any insult is followed by, “Bless her heart.”
“She’s dumber’n a door knob. Bless her heart.”
“She’s uglier than a bucket full of armpits. Bless her heart.”

I can attest to that bless her heart thing…I hear it all the time…

Of course if it is interviews you’ll be watching, I got a good interview for ya rat har:

Even Redneck Women know the importance of dressing up for swanky places:

Let the fun begin…we will post results as they happen…feel free to think of this as an open thread too, post links to stuff you are readin’ t-nite.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Let’s get right to the news. I’m going to start with a couple of items that should particularly interest Dakinikat. First, Charlie Pierce wrote a post yesterday about Bobby Jindal’s campaign for VP.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be your vice-president. (He may also want to be your president, too, but being your vice-president first is an easy way to do that.) His first audition for the second slot was to become the prime surrogate for the relentless juggernaut that was the Rick Perry campaign.

(This was a juggernaut only in the sense that people watched Perry speak in the debates and asked each other, “Is he hitting the jug or not?” Thank you. I’ll be back for the late show.)

Once he rode that baby straight into the ground, Jindal decided to campaign for the job on his own, all the while hoping that nobody in the country remembers his memorable “reply” to the president’s State of the Union address back in 2009, during which Jindal looked like a 12-year old wearing his grandfather’s suit, the one in which Jindal scoffed at federal spending on “volcano monitoring” a little more than a year before a big hunk of Iceland blew up and nearly destroyed the airline industry in Europe.

Pierce is reacting to Jindal’s op-ed at the WSJ: Obama’s Politicized Energy Policy

With rising energy costs making it more expensive to drive our cars, heat our homes, and fuel our sputtering economy, many Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for a failure to adopt a comprehensive energy policy. I believe that critique lets the president off too easily. His administration does have a national energy policy—it’s just a subservient by-product of his radical environmental policy.

This administration willfully ignores rational choices that would lower energy prices and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources.

Bla, bla, bla…”rational” advice from a guy who believes in exorcism.

We all lost an hour of our lives a couple of days ago when the government made us “spring forward” into daylight savings time (DST). I love it, because it means it stays light a little longer at the end of the day here in New England, but Dak hates what it does to her down in New Orleans. Of course up here in the north, I don’t have the problem of darkness in the early morning.

The Christian Science Monitor had an interesting article on DST yesterday. CSM reports on a psychological study that found that workers are sleepy the next day after the time change (duh!) and are more likely to waste time on the internet at work. “Global productivity losses from a spike in employee cyberloafing are potentially staggering,” the researchers conclude.

CSM says that the origins of DST go way back. It was “originally proposed by a 19th century butterfly collector who wanted more time at the end of the workday to scour fields for insects,” and was first implemented “during World War I (peacetime standardization came in 1966).”

The most recent real adjustment in the US came in 2007, when the change was moved up to the second Sunday in March from the first Sunday in April to lengthen “summertime” and gauge potential energy savings. Polls showed farmers, perennial DST opponents, grumbled, and sports retailers (who benefit from the extra hour of daylight for play time after work) rejoiced.

If you’re worried about lost sleep, you might want to read this article at Alternet: The 8-Hour Sleep Myth: How I Learned That Everything I Knew About Sleep Was Wrong. Apparently it’s not really natural for humans to sleep through the night. The author read about this in a BBC article. Here’s the gist from the Alternet piece:

Turns out that psychiatrist Thomas Wehr ran an experiment back in the ‘90s in which people were thrust into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. When their sleep regulated, a strange pattern emerged. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before drifting off again into a second four-hour sleep.

Historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech would not have been surprised by this pattern. In 2001, he published a groundbreaking paper based on 16 years of research, which revealed something quite amazing: humans did not evolve to sleep through the night in one solid chunk. Until very recently, they slept in two stages. Shazam.

In his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, Ekrich presents over 500 references to these two distinct sleep periods, known as the “first sleep” and the “second sleep,” culled from diaries, court records, medical manuals, anthropological studies, and literature, including The Odyssey. Like an astrolabe pointing to some forgotten star, these accounts referenced a first sleep that began two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

This waking period, known in some cultures as the “watch,” was filled with everything from bringing in the animals to prayer. Some folks visited neighbors. Others smoked a pipe or analyzed their dreams. Often they lounged in bed to read, chat with bedfellows, or have much more refreshing sex than we modern humans have at bedtime. A 16th-century doctor’s manual prescribed sex after the first sleep as the most enjoyable variety.

That makes me feel a lot better, since I’ve rarely ever been able to sleep through the night, and in my later years, I have a terrible time falling asleep in the first place.

In political news, President Obama’s approval rating has suddenly tanked, supposedly because of gas prices.

Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

At a time of rising gas prices, heightened talk of war with Iran and setbacks in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s approval rating dropped substantially in recent weeks, the poll found, with 41 percent of respondents expressing approval of the job he is doing and 47 percent saying they disapprove — a dangerous position for any incumbent seeking re-election.

Which is kind of scary because of the horrifying Republican presidential candidates. It’s still early, so I’m not panicking just yet. Speaking of the clown car crew, there are four primaries today–in Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa. I’m not sure if we’ll have a live blog, because the last one was a bit of dud. If you’d like to have one, please say so in the comments to this post. We’ll definitely post the results tonight though.

As of last night, Romney was in the running in both Alabama and Mississippi, where the polls show Romney Gingrich, and Santorum all running neck and neck. The worst news is that Romney is now leading Obama by 5 points nationally.

The next item drew a {heavy sigh} from me. A new PPP poll found that a whole lot of voters in Alabama and Mississippi think President Obama is a Muslim. {{Heavy sigh….}}

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Some folks in these two deep South state don’t care for interracial marriages like the one that produced Barack Obama.

67% of Alabama Republicans saying they believe interracial marriage should be legal, though 21% said it still should be against the law. In Mississippi, 54% said it should be allowed, while 29% said it should remain illegal.

The preferred Republican candidate of those opposed to interracial marriage? Newt Gingrich. In Mississippi, Gingrich led Romney among that group 40% to 27%, and held a 38%-27% advantage in Alabama.

I am soooooo glad I don’t live in Alabama or Mississippi! Alexandra Petri of the WaPo calls it “the time traveler vote.” She says that voters must have just arrived from the 1920s.

I don’t know why it didn’t strike me sooner. So many of the issues at stake this year are Issues I Thought We Resolved Several Decades Ago. This is 2012, with lots of economic distress and voter unrest to go around. Why are we suddenly prioritizing Taking Back Control Of Women’s Bodies For The State?

But if you consider the Time Traveling Vote, it all makes sense.

I am not sure how big the vote is. But if the recent actions of many state legislatures are to be taken into account, it is surely substantial.

To visitors from the past, these issues are still pressing and vital. They don’t care about jobs! Once the election’s over, they’re headed back to 1926, where the economy is still roaring and everyone is flapping and doing the Charleston.

It certainly makes more sense than the assumption that they’ve simply been ignoring all the headlines, most of the textbooks, the entire women’s rights movement and the scientific consensus for decades.

Some love letters between the young Richard Nixon and his future wife Pat will be displayed at the Nixon Library. They are said to show Nixon’s “sensitive side.” A sample:

“Every day and every night I want to see you and be with you. Yet I have no feeling of selfish ownership or jealousy. In fact I should always want you to live just as you wanted – because if you didn’t then you would change and wouldn’t be you,” Nixon wrote in one of the letters, part of a rotating display at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

“Let’s go for a long ride Sundays; let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours,” he continued.

Whatever happened to that guy?

Finally, have you heard that Arlen Specter has a memoir coming out? Naturally, it’s full of complaints. Harry Reid stabbed him in the back after promising to give Specter seniority as a Democrat if he switched parties. Obama and Biden didn’t help him in his primary campaign against Joe Sestak. The most interesting revelation in the article in The Hill is that Bob Dole told Specter he (Dole) would have switched parties too.

“Dole told me I had done the right thing, that I had done a terrific job as a senator, been involved in a lot of projects, been very active, and hadn’t gotten credit for a lot of the stuff I had done,” he wrote.

“I said, ‘Bob, I think that it’s very meaningful when you say that I did the right thing, in the party change.’

“He said, ‘Well,’ and then paused and thought for a few seconds. Then he said, ‘I probably would have done the same thing.’ ”

Never mind all that. I want to read about Specter’s role in the Warren Commission and how he dreamed up the “single bullet theory.”

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Super Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Today is the day Willard Mitt Romney has been working toward since 1994 when he first ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars he has poured into his dream of winning the presidency, only to end up on Super Tuesday 2012 with a 28% favorability rating according to the latest NBC-WSJ poll (h/t Dakinikat). Nevertheless, Romney could be the inevitable candidate after tonight–at least the Republican “establishment,” such as it is, hopes he will be.

As you can see in the image above, there are 437 delegates at stake today in the ten Super Tuesday states–that’s more than a third of the total delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.

My home state of Massachusetts holds its primary today, but I’ll be voting on the Democratic side for Elizabeth Warren for Senate. I’m actually getting a little worried about her now that Scott Brown has been leading in the polls for a couple of weeks now.

It looks like Romney will win easily here anyway. In fact, according the Washington Post, “Mass. Republicans hope a big Romney primary win Tuesday could put state into play in November”

Polls show Romney with a commanding lead among GOP primary voters here. His Republican challengers — Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich — have put little money or effort into the state.

But those same polls show Romney trailing President Barack Obama by double digits in a state that has traditionally shunned Republican presidential candidates.

Massachusetts Republicans are hoping that Romney will be able to buck that trend by reeling in voters in the state he governed for four years.

“He’ll put Massachusetts in play,” said state Republican Party Chairman Bob Maginn.

I sure hope not! Romney isn’t popular here, and he wasn’t popular as governor. But if the state ends up being competitive, I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and vote for Obama.

Nate Silver was posting Super Tuesday updates all day yesterday, and his predictions are laid out in a sidebar at his blog. He is forecasting wins for Romney in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. He expects Santorum to win Wisconsin, Tennesee, Oklahoma, and Gingrich to win his home state of Georgia.

As for the caucus states of North Dakota, Vermont, Idaho, and Alaska, which account for 87 delegates Silver’s colleague Micah Cohen says anything could happen.  Personally, I think Romney should take Vermont, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Paul or Santorum take North Dakota.

Over at Real Clear Politics you can see a table showing all of the latest Super Tuesday polls.  Of course we’ll be live blogging the results tonight here at Sky Dancing, so please join us!

Soooo …. Here are a few headlines to get the big day started.

Howard Fineman says the Republican Party has become America’s First Religious Party

Whatever happens on Super Tuesday, the Republican primary season already has made history. The contest has confirmed the establishment of America’s first overtly religious major political party.

The signs are numerous, but it’s still easy to miss the big picture: that the GOP now is best understood as the American Faith Party (AFP) and its members as conservative Judeo-Christian-Mormon Republicans. The basement of St. Peter’s is just one clubhouse.

“There has never been anything like it in our history,” said Princeton historian Sean Wilentz. “‘God’s Own Party’ now really is just that.”

Fineman says most people don’t seem too thrilled by this idea. Duh!

The new GOP does not seem to be sitting well with the American people as a whole, or even with many traditional Republicans. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine is only the latest non-AFP-type Republican to decide to leave politics and/or the party. In the new ruling class, “revival tent” proponents are driving out the old “big tent” advocates. And a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 40 percent of American adults think less of the party after watching its transformation this electoral season.

Will this spell the end of the GOP?

I happened to watch Hardball last night and to my horror, I saw Willard Mitt Romney in Tennessee reciting the words to an old song I recall from my childhood (but would have preferred to leave there), “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier.”  It came from a Disney movie of the same name. Charlie Pierce hated it too.

Romney is the personification of the word “dork.”

It turns out Ann Romney may have the same problem as her husband. She can’t help making remarks about being rich. Yesterday she appeared on Fox News and claimed, “I don’t even consider myself wealthy.”

Yeah, that’s “an interesting thing.” I wish she’d send me some of the $21 million the Romneys took in last year. Ann Romney is beginning to remind me of Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom.

Just one more Romney link: Sam Stein found a debate from 2008 in which Romney said he likes health care insurance mandates. Romney’s spokesman said it’s not a flip flop. You be the judge. Frankly, I don’t see how Romney can recall which side of an issue he’s on from one minute to the next.

There’s an embarrassing story from Rick Santorum’s history at Huffpo by Jason Cherkis.

For a brief moment Monday afternoon, GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum jettisoned his conservative, culture-warrior talking points to make a down-to-earth connection with Ohio voters. He confessed that as a teenager, he used to cross the Ohio border to buy beer because the state’s legal drinking age was 18. “I used to enjoy going to Ohio,” he said.

That’s funny. We used to do that in Indiana too. Ohio’s drinking age for 3.2 beer was 16 in those days. It was pretty weak stuff but you could still get a buzz from it if you drank enough.

"Rooster" with his frat brothers

Before he lived in the fraternity house, Santorum lived in a dorm in the center of Penn State’s University Park campus. During his junior year, he roomed with John Koury. “We literally rolled kegs down the dormitory floor,” Koury recalled.

Their room became a party room. “On Fridays, when everyone got back from class, we’d go get a quarter-keg from the distributor,” Koury told HuffPost. “There’d be 20 or 30 of us in the room. We’d drink it and go down to the dining hall.”

Everybody called him “Rooster.” And Rooster liked to chug.

Moving on…. Yesterday must have been the day for wives to defend their husbands. Ann Romney gave an interview to Fox, and Karen Santorum defended her husband’s attitudes toward women for Tuesday’s CBS This Morning.

“They try to corner him and make it look like he doesn’t know anything else” other than conservative social values, Santorum told CBS News political correspondent Jan Crawford in an interview for “CBS This Morning.” “As a wife, mother, an educated woman, it frustrates me that they try to do that.”

She said it’s “unfortunate” that the media tries to “corner” her husband on issues like contraception.

Maybe if he didn’t keep ranting about it all the time, they’d stop asking him about it.

“My husband is brilliant, he knows so much about — you know, like I said — national security, jobs, the economy,” she told Crawford. “You know, every aspect of this race, any issue out there, he’s brilliant.”

Yeah, right. If her husband is “brilliant,” he sure does a good job of hiding it. She also complained about many people’s reaction to the couple’s decision to take their dead 20-month fetus home to show their children.

“We brought Gabriel home from the hospital to have a funeral mass and to bury him. And so they twist it and make it sound like it was some crazy thing,” she said. “We brought him home from the hospital to introduce him to our kids and place him, it was for the funeral mass and the burial. And what is so sad to me Jan is that no one can tell me how to grieve, and I’m not going to tell anyone else how to grieve. It’s not right.”

Well she might not tell anyone how to grieve, but she and her husband seem to wants to tell the rest of us we can’t use birth control or have access to abortion and that women should home school their children instead of working for a living. The Santorums both have martyr complexes. IMO, they should quit whining, live their lives they way they want to, and leave the rest of us alone.

Good old Ron Paul made a bit of news yesterday when he said victims of the recent tornadoes shouldn’t get any federal help.

As Midwestern states face the aftermath of last week’s severe tornado outbreak, Ron Paul said victims of the storms should not look to the federal government for help.

The Texas Republican has often criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency, because, as he says, “they just get in the way.” He made this same argument Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley regarding the recent tornado-spawned devastation in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and several other states.

“To say that any accident that happens in the country, send in FEMA, send in the money, the government has all this money, it’s totally out of control and it’s not efficient,” he said.

Paul argued that the money FEMA spends for disaster relief is stolen from the states and tax payers and is ultimately wasteful.

What a nasty, mean old man! He’s building up some really bad karma.

I know I should have dug up some news about Newt Gingrich too, but I couldn’t find much. He’ll have a nice night in Georgia tonight I guess, and then probably will fade into the sunset.

Other than the primaries, the big story in the news is the conflict between Obama and Netanyahu over attacking Iran, which I find so depressing that I don’t even want to think about it. You can read about it at the link. And here’s a bonus. Mitt Romney has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post called “How I would check Iran’s nuclear ambition.”

So that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today? And don’t forget to join us this evening as we discuss the results of the Super Tuesday contests!


Can We Admit That What We’re Seeing Is More Than . . . ‘Weather?’

These are some images from my neck of the woods from this past weekend’s round of ‘weather.’

Now granted, I’m not a native of the southeast—South Jersey girl here.  But the locals tell me that vertical winds are a hellva lot different than tornado touchdowns, particularly when you’re living in hill country, in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains.  Locally, this time we were fortunate—some downed branches and yard mess.  The major damage was to the east and south of us.  Last year?  Not so much. 

In fact, last year’s April storm front in the southeast produced 280+ tornadoes in 3 days.  Historic, the headlines screamed.

If this were merely a local event, we could chalk it up to bad luck and Mother Nature in a cranky mood.  But consider that earth-orbiting satellites have been gathering scientific data not previously available, giving us the ‘big picture’, data on a global scale. The following evidence has been accumulated:

  • Sea levels are, in fact, rising, the rate of the last decade nearly double that of the last century.
  • Global temperatures are on the rise, increasing since the 1970s with the 10 hottest recorded temperatures within the last 12 years.
  • The oceans have been warming since 1969, measureable temperatures increasing in the top surfaces [2300 ft] and the acidification of the oceans has increased by 30% since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Glaciers are retreating, the Arctic sea ice is shrinking and the ice sheets of Greenland [36-60 cubic miles per year between 2002-2006] and the Antarctic [36 cubic miles per year between 2002-2005] have declined.

According to NASA data, there are certain facts beyond dispute:

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many JPL-designed instruments, such as AIRS. Increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in solar output, in the Earth’s orbit, and in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that in the past, large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.

We can take the facts and data of NASA, their orbiting satellites and sensors or we can fall back on the word of say . . . a Rick Santorum, who has proven himself such an expert on other subjects.  According to Santorum in a speech in Colorado:

[Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. … I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face. And yet we have politicians running to the ramparts — unfortunately politicians who happen to be running for the Republican nomination for president — who bought into man-made global warming and bought into cap-and-trade.

We can argue the merits of cap and trade but I find it comical that Santorum is running around talking about Satan on one hand—a Santorum absolute–while denying climate change on the other.  This is a ‘don’t trust your lying eyes’ moment.  And certainly don’t trust science.  He continued with:

We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit … We are the intelligent beings that know how to manage things and through that course of science and discovery if we can be better stewards of this environment, then we should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped create.

Huh?  I’m not sure what this rambling statement is intended to mean, other than we shouldn’t let nature clue us in that we’re skating on the edge, pushing the health of the planet and its inhabitants to the max.  Full steam ahead with those extractions, boys!

Of course, Santorum is not alone in this type of denial.  Rush Limbaugh, who has had his fair share of attention in the last few days [not of the good kind], had this to say after declaring climate change a ‘hoax’:

I happen to believe in God. I believe in a loving, brilliant – I know that this – there is no way, I don’t want to sound simpleton here, but there is not – it is not possible that we would be created by a creator in such a way that we would destroy by virtue of our created existence our own planet and environment. It just doesn’t compute and yet that’s what these people are trying to tell us. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/2/11

All righty then!  God, a loving brilliant God, would not allow us to destroy ourselves.  Scrap all that science and data, the fat man speaketh.

Beginning to see a pattern here?  We can believe in myth—Satan’s going to getcha and/or a benevolent, personal God-creator, who would never allow Man to be stupid enough to destroy His/Her creation.  No problem then.  Keep spewing those toxins into the air, don’t worry about contaminating our water supply and . . . heat?  What heat?

Despite the relentless war on climate data in particular and science in general, it turns out the public is beginning to catch on to all the corporate-friendly tap dancing.  After a dip in public sentiment about Climate Change and the mass investment in misinformation, Americans are using their powers of observation and taking heed to the mounting evidence.  According to the Brookings Institute National Survey, Fall 2011, a strong majority [62%] of the American public now believes that global warming is real and poses a threat to global security.  Observation to local effects of warming temperatures and world-wide reports of floods, droughts, freakishly warm temperatures, melting ice sheets, ocean acidification and the effects on wildlife and fauna are slowly turning opinion.

We cannot wait for a benevolent God-spirit to save us.  We’ll need to do that for ourselves, sooner rather than later.  Because we won’t get a second chance.  As Naomi Klien recently stated any real shift towards climate sustainability means a shift in the entire free-market ethos that depends on continual growth, massive extraction and profit-making over people.

. . . you can’t do it all with carbon markets and offsetting. You have to really seriously regulate corporations and invest in the public sector. And we need to build public transport systems and light rail and affordable housing along transit lines to lower emissions. The market is not going to step up to this challenge. We must do more: rebuild levees and bridges and the public sphere, because we saw in Katrina what happens when weak infrastructure clashes with heavy weather—it’s catastrophe. These climate deniers aren’t crazy—their worldview is under threat. If you take climate change seriously, you do have to throw out the free-market playbook.

In the end, so many of these pressing issues are related to a flawed economic and political model—the current corporate state.  It will be up to us to reimagine a new system or as Peter Barnes suggested in ‘Capitalism 3.0,’  it’s time to upgrade.

Because there’s no place to run or hide.  Earth is the only home we have. Reclaiming the commons isn’t optional; it’s a must.  And personally?  I’m just not into wicked tornadoes.

UPDATE: The Red Cross is now asking for donations for storm ravaged areas in the Southeast.  Contact your local offices for information. Or go here.