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.


Sunday Reads: You’re not like other girls…

 

This will be a quick post, and it won’t mention a tRump at all.

Well, except for this little tidbit…

Democratic women senators not allowed to meet with Trump’s pick for stolen SCOTUS seat – Shareblue

Republicans are demanding Democratic support for Donald Trump’s nominee to the stolen Supreme Court seat, but the White House is denying some Democratic women the opportunity to even meet with him for questioning.

Not surprising when his VP won’t even have dinner with any woman other than his wife.

Mike Pence doesn’t eat alone with women. That speaks volumes | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

The vice-president’s rule is insulting for men and limiting for women. But let’s not let Pence’s sexism distract us from his whole party’s sexist agenda

Also, on that note…Mike Pence strips women of healthcare with tie-breaking Senate vote

Vice President Mike Pence just used his powers in the Senate to be the lone decider in whether or not women will have access to crucial healthcare coverage.

In a 51-50 vote, Senate Republicans — with a few members defecting to side with Democrats — just repealed an Obama-era regulation that puts states “on notice” with respect to funding Planned Parenthood health centers. The initial regulation stipulated that states that sought to deny Title X funding — which goes to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide low-income Americans with affordable family planning services — would be in violation of federal law.

The National Women’s Law Center broke down the harm that the latest decision by Vice President Pence and Senate Republicans would cause to low-income women in a recent blog post:

Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015;

Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and

Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.

The move to relieve states attempting to cut Title X grants to dry up Planned Parenthood’s funding comes on the heels of the Republicans’ embarrassing Trumpcare defeat last week, when President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed healthcare overhaul didn’t even receive a vote in the heavily Republican House of Representatives. With Pence’s latest tiebreaker, Republicans will now no longer be 0-1 in fulfilling campaign promises related to taking away healthcare for low-income people.

What a way to end out the month that was supposed to celebrate women…

Fucking hell.

 

Is she locking him up? I prefer to think she is….

It is constantly amazing to me how the right can continue to put forth life threatening laws like this:

Lawmaker: Miscarrying women must carry dead fetuses to term – SFGate

An Iowa state representative is under fire after saying women who miscarry after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be forced to carry their dead fetuses to term.

During a hearing Wednesday of Senate File 471, which would clear the way for a state ban on abortions after the 20-week mark, Republican Rep. Shannon Lundgren — the manager of 471 — faced a question from fellow Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat.

Noting that he has a daughter who is 20 weeks pregnant, Forbes asked that under the bill, would his daughter have to carry her child to term even if a doctor told her there was no longer a heartbeat.

“Is that good medicine?” Forbes wondered.

Lundgren’s response:

“This bill wasn’t written for the intent to protect or govern on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives, giving the choice and being the voice of those babies…that don’t have one. I understand what you’re saying—this fetus, this baby, is not alive. I would concur that in that instance, if your daughter’s life is not in danger, that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”

Sepsis anyone?

And this isn’t all that we have seen from the GOP this week…Georgia lawmakers cruelly mocked rape survivor lobbying against harmful bill

If you REALLY want to rage, watch this clip of Ehrhart saying being “falsely accused” is just as traumatizing as being sexually assaulted.

 

The year is 2017 and that video above still shows the dangerous repercussions of rape culture that is perpetuated by the patriarchy attitudes that show no signs of calming down. Take this incident, which is not in this country…but illustrates the point: Wealthy Man in Mexico Acquitted of Rape Because He ‘Didn’t Enjoy It’

A judge in Mexico has acquitted one of three men accused of raping a 17-year-old girl on the grounds that, as one activist described it, he “didn’t enjoy it.”

Diego Cruz, who was 19 at the time, and three of his friends, all sons of wealthy businessmen and politicians, allegedly abducted their former high school classmate and forced her into the back of a car as she was leaving a party in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, in 2015. The girl said Cruz and another man, Jorge Coahuila, grabbed under her shirt and shorts. A third man, Enrique Capitaine, raped her, while the fourth sat there.

Though Judge Anuar González acknowledged that Cruz touched the girl’s breasts and genitals, he found that Cruz’s action was “incidental rubbing” that lacked “carnal intent,” and was therefore not assault.

 

Wait a moment…is she shooting a bird? Flicking the finger? Giving the old, Fuck Off?

 

And you know, the fight…is a world wide assault. Over in Britain: Anger as tampon tax is used to help fund anti-abortion group | Politics | The Guardian

Seriously…no wonder so many women over the world took the Woman’s March to heart.

But let’s hear it for the women and girls who are standing up to the right.

 

‘They Don’t Care About Any Poor People’: Little Miss Flint Talks About Her City’s Water Crisis

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is Little Miss Flint. She is 9 years old and lives in Flint, MI. She told me that in her free time she likes to “go on Twitter or just play with my toys or just lay down in bed, read, and play with my dollhouse, and color and draw and cheer.” She hasn’t been able to drink the water from the sink in her house for 1,071 days, because, as she put it, “you might die.”

Copeny’s story has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The water smelled bad. It gave me a bad rash. It smelled like bleach. We couldn’t use it no more. [We used] bottled water: 36 gallons for a bubble bath and so we could brush our teeth.

More stories of women and girls standing up below…

 

 

 

 

Want to follow some body positive folks: 6 Body Positive Illustrators You Need To Know About

Self-love is for everybody!  For those days then you feel like “ugh,” you need bright, cheerful reminders of how you are just perfect, just the way you are!  Here are 6 of my favorite body-positive illustrators to watch for everyday inspiration to love yourself and be kind to your body!

How about this: This Twitter Account Highlights Inspiring Central American Women Who Broke Barriers

With history mostly focusing on the achievements of men, it’s necessary to elevate the stories of women. As British historian and author Bettany Hughes states, “It’s the inconvenient truth that women have always been 50 percent of the population, but only occupy around 0.5 percent of recorded history. Physically the stories of women have been written out of history, rather than written in.”

That’s why the work of 24-year-old Zaira Funes is so important. During this year’s Women’s History Month, she fought this erasure by tweeting about inspirational Latin American women. Because the Salvadoran-American student chose to solely highlight Central America – an isthmus that’s also very familiar with erasure – she gave many a chance to learn and feel pride about barrier-breaking women from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.

Funes included a range of athletes, activists, singers, and everything in between. To wrap up March, check out these Central American women who made history, as curated by Funes:

Go to the link to read more and check those women out.

Yeah, tell him what for…

And since I am packing this post with links on women, why not post a story on…The Real Story of Elizabeth Báthory: History’s Most Prolific Female Serial Killer

Whenever you hear this story, you’ll find plenty more questions than answers. Was Elizabeth Báthory really the most prolific female killer of all time? Was she framed, a victim of being a powerful woman in a time when that alone was enough to ruin her reputation?

Or was she as bad as they say, a woman who had her henchmen gather virgins (up to 650!) from neighboring villages in order to bathe in their blood, a practice she believed would keep her young?

As with the majority of history (especially history about women and other underrepresented categories of people), you’ll just have to read what we know and make up your own mind, because there will never be a black-and-white truth.

 

Cool, innit.

Well, y’all know what I mean.

Now a quick video, because it makes me laugh every time I see it.

 

If you are on Facebook, then follow the next couple of groups. They always have interesting post.

 

And if anything is said of feminism…this must be: Intersectionality 

Let’s keep the women post going….

View this post on Instagram

It's #transvisibilityday and I am sending love and strength to all my trans brothers and sisters and those who don't define as either.

A post shared by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on

For some reason that Instagram of Alan Cumming is not showing up…this is the image btw:

 

We celebrated Transgender Day recently, and one story that went around the web caught my eye:

Transgender WWII veteran comes out as a woman at 90 | New York Post

WWII Veteran Comes Out As Transgender At The Age Of 90 | The Huffington Post

90-Year-Old World War II Vet Comes Out As Transgender  | GOOD

I put up three different links there…each has the same story but they all have little various details and quotes.

She looks skeptical…doesn’t she.

Up next…16 Lesbian Power Couples From History Who Got Shit Done, Together | Autostraddle

Lesbians are well-known for our unique ability to find a girlfriend and then turn that romantic relationship into an all-consuming life partnership — starting businesses, pursuing activism, revolutionizing social services, erecting schools, liberating marginalized groups. This is true today but has also been true since the beginning of time. Back in the day, many women were held back from activism and entrepreneurship by the demands of marriage and motherhood, making some women-loving-women uniquely able to pursue civilization-shifting ventures. (Although many managed to do both!) We’re gonna talk about some of those relationships here today.

For the purposes of this list, I defined “power couple” as a relationship through which both women were able to achieve greater professional, artistic or service-related success because of their relationship with each other. I leaned towards couples that actually made or did things together — whether that be starting a school, hosting a nightclub, creating social services for disadvantaged humans or making films. Also, as usual, the word “lesbian” is used as an adjective to describe a same-sex relationship, not the sexual orientation of the women in the relationship.

And for many of us, this next article may come as no surprise: What states have the best and worst quality of life for women.

Hawaii has best quality of life for women | Daily Mail Online

Ladies love Hawaii! The island state is declared to have the best quality of life for women – while Utah, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have the worst
A new in-depth study by MoveHub ranked US states based on the quality of life for women who live there
The site looked at factors like gender pay gap, political representation in the state legislature, equality in education, and accessibility to health insurance
It also examined reproductive rights and the number of incidents of violence against women
States in the Northeast and West mostly fared best, while Utah and a cluster of Southern states performed worst

I also thought this was a good story to share, ‘Penis Seat’ Causes Double Takes on Mexico City Subway – The New York Times

A seat in a subway car in Mexico City’s metro system caused a stir earlier this year. There were awkward glances. Visible discomfort. Baffled looks. Some laughs. And of course, the inevitable pictures from passengers’ camera phones.

It was meant to be provocative, and it was. A seat was changed to look like the lower half of a male’s body, including the penis, part of a campaign by UN Women and the Mexico City government to raise awareness about sexual harassment on subways.

On the floor beneath the seat, there was a sign reading, “It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes.”

Video and more at the link.

And finally….this last story:

The kingdom of women: the Tibetan tribe where a man is never the boss | Life and style | The Guardian

It’s a place where women rule, marriage doesn’t exist and everything follows the maternal bloodline. But is it as good for women as it sounds – and how long can it last?

A Mosuo woman weaves with a loom at her shop in Lijiang, China.

A Mosuo woman weaves with a loom at her shop in Lijiang, China. Photograph: Chien-min Chung/Getty Images

Imagine a society without fathers; without marriage (or divorce); one in which nuclear families don’t exist. Grandmother sits at the head of the table; her sons and daughters live with her, along with the children of those daughters, following the maternal bloodline. Men are little more than studs, sperm donors who inseminate women but have, more often than not, little involvement in their children’s upbringing.

This progressive, feminist world – or anachronistic matriarchy, as skewed as any patriarchal society, depending on your viewpoint – exists in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. An ancient tribal community of Tibetan Buddhists called the Mosuo, they live in a surprisingly modern way: women are treated as equal, if not superior, to men; both have as many, or as few, sexual partners as they like, free from judgment; and extended families bring up the children and care for the elderly. But is it as utopian as it seems? And how much longer can it survive?

Go to the link and read the rest. It is fascinating.

Well, that is all I have for you today…this is an open thread..have at it.


Thursday Reads: Villagers Turn On Obama, Texas Tornadoes, West TX Investigations, and Boston Bombing News

tea6

Good Morning!!

It’s beginning to look like Obama’s second term is pretty much over before it begins. We’re facing years of Republican scandalmongering and “investigations” of a president who won’t fight back or even fight for his own favored legislation or judicial and government appointments.

What is Obama actually doing every day? Does he spend the time he isn’t fund-raising or doing meaningless public appearances deciding which “extremist” to drone strike next? Because he certainly doesn’t seem to be governing.

Maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. All I know is that the Villagers are finished with him. We got the news yesterday from Politico’s top gossip mavens Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen in one of their trademark “Behind the Curtain” posts: D.C. turns on Obama.

The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.

Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.

Really? if powerful Democrats weren’t “big fans” of Obama, why did they work their asses off to hand him the nomination in 2008 when they could just as easily have chosen Hillary Clinton?

Of course the “establishment Democrats” that Vandehei and Allen choose to quote in their piece are hardly current insiders, as Charles Pierce pointed out:

Not to minimize the inherent political savvy of Chris Lehane, one anonymous former Obama aide, one anonymous “longtime Washingtonian,” or Vernon Jordan — who, I admit, I’d thought had long gone off to peddle influence in the Beyond — but I think they’re pretty much camouflage here for the fiery tantrum summoned up by the authors.

(And, not for nothing, but “longtime Washingtonian” may well be the beau ideal of TBOTP sourcing. They should make it the company motto. And the two presiding geniuses are going to be shocked one morning when they look in the mirror and see Sally Quinn staring back at them.)

Nevertheless, the Villagers certainly pay more attention to Vandehei and Allen’s pontifications than Pierce’s. Here’s a little more of their venom:

Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.

This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system. “It feel like they don’t know what they’re here to do,” a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”

Even Greg Sargent acknowledges that Politico probably speaks for the DC establishment, particularly the corporate media.

Read the rest of this entry »


Monday Evening News Reads: Disasters and Breakthroughs

Goosubway woman readingd Evening!

The last time I wrote a post for the blog, over half of it disappeared. Since then I have been leery and anxious about working with WordPress again…so if this thread seems a bit on the hesitant side, you know why.

Okay…I will get to the disasters and breakthroughs in a little while, first I want to bring you something from the “no shit” file. Likely Increase in Births Has Some Lawmakers Revisiting Cuts (See what I mean…what the hell do you think happens when you cut off birth control for low income women?)

When state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Of course, you know already know where this article is going…right?

The latest Health and Human Services Commission projections being circulated among Texas lawmakers indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million — $103 million to $108 million to the state’s general revenue budget alone — and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid.

Ahead of the next legislative session, during which lawmakers will grapple with an existing Medicaid financing shortfall, a bipartisan coalition is considering ways to restore some or all of those family planning dollars, as a cost-saving initiative if nothing else.

“I know some of my colleagues felt like in retrospect they did not fully grasp the implications of what was done last session,” said Representative Donna Howard, Democrat of Austin, who said she had been discussing ways to restore financing with several other lawmakers in both parties.

Fully grasp? It ain”t like people were telling them the importance of Planned Parenthood and the reality of low cost birth control. /snark.

At least there is this news out of North Carolina: Judge rules against NC anti-abortion license plate

North Carolina can’t offer anti-abortion license plates unless it also makes plates available for people who support abortion rights, a federal judge said in a ruling that squelches the plan that included proceeds going to crisis pregnancy centers in the state.“This court concludes … that the state’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment,” Judge James Fox said in his ruling, issued Friday.

I wrote about these Choose Life license plates back when they were approved by the NC General Assembly in 2011.

“This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU-NCLF. “The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view. We are very pleased that the court agrees that such a one-sided scheme constituted viewpoint discrimination and violated the First Amendment. We would have made the exact same argument if the situation was reversed, and the state planned on issuing a pro-choice plate while not offering one expressing the opposite point of view.”

From the Right Wing Watch website:  Washington Times Gives Platform to White Nationalist to Warn Against Puerto Rico Statehood  No surprise there, Washington Times is a right wing rag anyway.

On to the disaster news, Disaster Relief, Dot-Com Style:

Two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New York City, one of many desperate pleas across the city went out: “We have over 50 seniors located at 80 Rutgers Street who are without electricity, cannot go down stairs, and are running low on food supplies.”

Within an hour, volunteers were rushing over with supplies. But it was not a 911 dispatcher or a FEMA representative who had heeded the call for help. It was members of the Lower East Side community responding to a message on recovers.org, an online hub that helps communities direct resources and volunteers where they’re needed in an emergency. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, four microsites sprung up on the system for the Lower East Side, Astoria, Red Hook, and Staten Island to connect victims in New York City neighborhoods with volunteers and supplies. A fifth sprung up for Hoboken, N.J.

It is a long article, so be sure to go and read the whole thing.

In connection with the affect of social media on Superstorm Sandy, check this out: Occupy Wall Street-Sandy: NYPD quietly credits movement for helping fight post-storm crime.

As my colleague Katherine Goldstein reported last month, Occupy Wall Street was quick to set up shop to help people recover in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, collecting and handing out donations in New York City for those impacted by the superstorm. She closed her dispatch with this line: “I imagine both concerned New Yorkers and storm victims alike will remember who was out on the front lines.” Turns out, they have. And, perhaps even more surprisingly, it looks like we can count NYPD officers among that group.

Just a few more links for you. Battle of Fredericksburg comes to life for 150th anniversary Funny, this article appears in the British newspaper The Independent.

On the second floor of the old brick building on Sophia Street, the three Confederate snipers waited for the Yankees.

They had their muskets at the ready, and paper ammunition cartridges were lined up on the window sills.

Outside, their comrades were retreating. There were shouts, crashes of gunfire and the sound of approaching drums. “Get ready,” rebel Andrew Prasse said as he leaned out a window. “All right, let ’em have it, boys.”

They refought the Civil War’s Battle of Fredericksburg Saturday, a few days shy of its 150th anniversary.

There was no bloodshed, of course, but hundreds of reenactors like Prasse, 26, of Columbia Heights, made it feel as if there were.

Picture at the link, these guys sure look like the real thing. If you have never been to a reenactment before, try and get to one. It is one hell of an experience, loud…real loud!

TCM has come out with there remember video, I have tried to download it but the video is not cooperating:  TCM Remembers 2012 — (TCM Original)

And saving the best for last…A Breakthrough Against Leukemia Using Altered T-Cells

Emma Whitehead, with her mother, Kari. Last spring, Emma was near death from acute lymphoblastic leukemia but is now in remission after an experimental treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Just a wonderful image, go read the story at the link…it will make you feel good.

This is an open thread.


Ignore the Man Screaming in Front of the Curtain

Here’s an interesting thesis from Steven Almond writing at the NYT.

Liberals are to blame for the success of right wing canards and screamers because they don’t elevate the conversation.  They fixate on the bloviator.

Of course, not all right-wing pundits spew hate. But the ones who do are the ones we liberals dependably aggrandize. Consider the recent debate over whether employers must cover contraception in their health plans. The underlying question — should American women receive help in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies? — is part of a serious and necessary national conversation.

Any hope of that conversation happening was dashed the moment Rush Limbaugh began his attacks on Sandra Fluke, the young contraceptive advocate. The left took enormous pleasure in seeing Limbaugh pilloried. To what end, though? Industry experts noted that his ratings actually went up during the flap. In effect, the firestorm helped Limbaugh do his job, at least in the short term.

But the real problem isn’t Limbaugh. He’s just a businessman who is paid to reduce complex cultural issues to ad hominem assaults. The real problem is that liberals, both on an institutional and a personal level, have chosen to treat for-profit propaganda as news. In so doing, we have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.

Media outlets like MSNBC and The Huffington Post often justify their coverage of these voices by claiming to serve as watchdogs. It would be more accurate to think of them as de facto loudspeakers for conservative agitprop. The demagogues of the world, after all, derive power solely from their ability to provoke reaction. Those liberals (like me) who take the bait, are to blame for their outsize influence.

Blink.

Okee dokee then.

From Digby: Little wingnut monsters: even if you don’t feed them, they grow up anyway.

From Ballon Juice:

This may be the single dumbest op-ed in the NY Times this year, which would be an accomplishment, given that Friedman, Brooks, Douthat, and Bruni all write there. Apparently Steve Almond thinks that if liberals would just ignore nasty old Republicans, then we’d have an amazingly civil public discourse and Fox news would shrivel up and die. The logic goes something like this:

1.) Ignore Mean Republicans
2.) …

3.) UNICORNS!

From Mahablog:

This is something like clap-for-Tinkerbelle in reverse. If we stop enabling righties by paying attention to them, they’ll go away.

I would like to say that I don’t feel personally victimized by escalating right-wing fanaticism. Most of the time I feel more like a helpless bystander watching barbarians sack my country.

From me:

WTF is wrong with you?  We now have walking, talking, reproducing humanoids that think taking from the poor and giving to the rich solves all of our economic problems, that poor people deserve to starve and die from lack of insurance because there’s something morally wrong with them, a basically ineffective right of center president is a socialist, Kenyan Muslim who has spent us into no man’s land, Fox News is actually news and not just made up shit that rich Republicans want you to believe, and fertilized egg has more right to “life” than a woman or a man that’s been wrongly convicted of a crime or GLBT people.  We’re supposed to ignore the propagandists and just spout platitudes about “big ideals”?  Gimme a friggin; break and buy a clue, dude!  We tried Air America.  It bored every one.  Eliot Spitzer got sent to out media land for having heady conversations.  What planet is this?

That is all.


Sunday Reads: Three, Eight, Eleven, Fifty and Leap

Good Morning

I spent most of Saturday inside a mall in Atlanta. The place was packed but people were not spending much, aside from the pretzel joint and The American Girl store. Geez, those dolls were everywhere. Some girls even carried two of these freaky “Talky Tina” incarnate dolls, and what a sight…all three wearing the same outfit. Hmmm, I wonder how many of those dolls come to life and wind up telling Telly Savalas, “My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill you.” (Yes, I know it is a cheap reference to Twilight Zone, don’t worry I have some other stories to share with you that will also have literary or film references.)

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a link in the comments that I think deserves front page mention. The article is about the latest revelation out of the Catholic Church…and I’m not talking about contraception. Court filing: Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese’s Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

Cardinal Bevilacqua died this past January 31st

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua’s complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Prosecutors say that Lynn, as the secretary for clergy, recommended priests for assignments despite knowing or suspecting that they would sexually abuse children. Facing trial with him are two former parish priests accused of molesting a boy in the 1990s, the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery.

The Defense is arguing that the recently discovered memo is proof that the cover up of repeated child sex abuse was directed by church officials.

This story reads like a pitch for a Showtime movie of the week, or maybe a sick mini-series on Lifetime.

After becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, they say, Lynn began combing the secret personnel files of hundreds of priests to gauge the scope of misconduct involving children. He did it, his lawyers said, because he “felt it was the right thing to do.”

The result was his February 1994 memo that identified 35 priests suspected of abuse or pedophilia. Lynn allegedly gave it to his superior, Msgr. James Molloy, the assistant vicar for administration, who shared his duties documenting abuse complaints.

Bevilacqua discussed the memo in a March 15, 1994, meeting with Molloy and Bishop Edward P. Cullen, then the cardinal’s top aide, the filing says. After the meeting, Bevilacqua allegedly ordered Molloy to shred the memo.

One week later, Molloy allegedly destroyed four copies, with the Rev. Joseph Cistone as a witness. “This action was taken on the basis of a directive I received from Cardinal Bevilacqua,” say Molloy’s handwritten notes.

But Molloy apparently had second thoughts. Without telling anyone, he took a copy of the memo, and his notes, and placed them in a portable, locked safe.

According to the motion, that safe remained untouched and unnoticed until 2006, when archdiocesan officials found it and hired a locksmith to open it. It’s unclear why the records inside were only recently turned over to Lynn’s lawyers and prosecutors, although church lawyers have said they have been reviewing thousands of files to comply with trial subpoenas.

Back in 2002, Bevilacqua had mentioned a list of 35 suspected priests, of which the archdiocese had giving information on to the Philadelphia District Attorney. However…

…He did not mention any memo from eight years earlier or his order to shred it.

During 10 appearances before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004, Bevilacqua denied knowing details or playing a significant role in the handling of sex-abuse complaints, saying he delegated those duties to Lynn.

“I saw no evidence at any time that we did any cover-up,” he testified.

This now places some concern about the Cardinals videotaped testimony, and whether he perjured himself…and what effect this will have on the prosecution’s case. James Molloy died in 2006. The article mentions an interview he gave before his death that may have hinted at the memo and extra copy of the list of abusive priest.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Molloy described reaching a point when “I couldn’t be sure that I could trust my superiors to do the right thing.” So, he said, he became diligent about documenting his actions.

“I wanted my memos to be there if the archdiocese’s decisions were eventually put on the judicial scales,” Molloy said then. “This way, anyone could come along in the future and say, this was right or this wrong. But they could never say it wasn’t all written down.”

It looks as though Lynn has been used as a scapegoat…but if this is all true it sounds eerily similar to the abuse situation and cover-up at Penn State. .

Think about the parallels between the two cases. Though they are not exact, they seem to mirror one another.

In the Sandusky scandal, an assistant coach walks in on Sandusky anally raping a young boy in the school’s gym shower. He goes to the men in charge, head coach, college president and head of college security…and tells them what he saw. The cover up goes from there…and nothing is done to protect the children who are being abused by Sandusky.

In Lynn’s case, two of the main players, the Cardinal Bevilacqua and Msgr. Malloy are now dead…with Penn State, Head Coach Joe Paterno died last month. Testimony was given in both cases to a grand jury before the men died…it would be something if the Feds find a “smoking” gun or memo in the documents they have subpoenaed from Penn State this past week.

Since I have brought up the Sandusky Child Abuse story, I might as well update you on that.

Feds seek PSU hard drives, financial info in Sandusky case

Penn State adds detail about Sandusky subpoena

Jerry Sandusky scandal:  Feds subpoena Penn State for top officials’ info

I am going to stick with US news for now…so more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Thursday Reads: Defense Authorization Bill, Ron Wyden, the Filthy Rich, and Bird Crashes

Good Morning!!

So far I haven’t been locked up in Guantanamo or debtors’ prison. I hope the rest of you Sky Dancers still have your freedom too, such as it is.

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defense Authorization bill, which includes language permitting indefinite detention by the military of “al Qaeda members” without specific charges or trials. You can read the bill here.

Our craven and cowardly President had promised to veto this bill, but today the White House reneged on that promise, and Obama is set to sign it once it passes the Senate tomorrow or Friday.

The White House backed down from its veto threat of the defense authorization bill Wednesday, saying that the bill’s updated language would not constrain the Obama administration’s counterterrorism efforts.

While the White House acknowledged it still has some concerns, press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama’s advisers wouldn’t recommend a veto, a threat that had been hanging over the Pentagon policy bill for the past month.

Obama and his crew don’t care about the fifth amendment, habeas corpus and all that jazz–just that the president is the one who decides who is an “al Qaeda member” and therefore will be whisked away to indefinite detention. Wanna bet there are suddenly going to be a lot of “al Qaeda members” in the Occupy movement? From Anti-War.com:

As revealed in the Senate deliberations last week, the Obama administration itself requested the principal authors of the provision – John McCain and Carl Levin – to include language authorizing due-process-free military custody for American citizens. The initial threat of veto was apparently nothing more than political theater on the part of the White House.

According to The Hill, the following changes satisfied the White House concerns:

The bill deleted the word “requirement” from the section on the military detention of terror suspects, which was among the most contentious parts of the bill.

The national security waiver allowing the executive branch to move terror suspects from military to civilian courts was placed in the president’s hands rather than the Defense secretary’s, a change Levin said Obama had asked for.

The conference bill was based on the Senate language, which was not as harsh as the House bill when it came to trying terror suspects in civilian courts.

The administration called the provision in the bill that establishes the authority for military detentions unnecessary because the executive branch already was given this authority following Sept. 11.

Carney’s statement said if the administration finds parts of the law “negatively impact our counterterrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law,” it expects the bill’s authors will correct those problems.

Oh well, then no worries… Except that lots of people who care about the Constitution aren’t so happy about it. Here’s a statement from Laura Murphy of the ACLU:

“The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

Unfortunately, Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.

Here’s a statement from Human Rights Watch:

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”

The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.

There are currently 171 detainees at Guantanamo, many of whom have been imprisoned for nearly 10 years. As one of his first acts in office, Obama signed an executive order for the closure of Guantanamo within one year. Instead of moving quickly to close the prison and end the use of the discredited military commissions, he supported modifications to the Military Commissions Act.

“It is a sad moment when a president who has prided himself on his knowledge of and belief in constitutional principles succumbs to the politics of the moment to sign a bill that poses so great a threat to basic constitutional rights,” Roth said.

The bill also requires the US military take custody of certain terrorism suspects even inside the United States, cases that previously have been handled by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. During debate over the bill, several senior administration officials, including the secretary of defense, attorney general, director of national intelligence, director of the FBI, and director of the CIA, all raised objections that this provision interfered with the administration’s ability to effectively fight terrorism. In the last 10 years over 400 people have been prosecuted in US federal courts for terrorism related offenses. Meanwhile during that same period, only six cases have been prosecuted in the military commissions.

“President Obama cannot even justify this serious threat to basic rights on the basis of security,” Roth said. “The law replaces an effective system of civilian-court prosecutions with a system that has generated the kind of global outrage that would delight recruiters of terrorists.”

The bill also reauthorizes the AUMF that Bush used to get us into Iraq. Emptywheel has a lengthy post in which she wonders: Feinstein’s “Fix” on AUMF Language Actually Authorize Killing American Citizens? You probably should read the whole thing, but here’s the summation:

…by affirming all purportedly existing statutory authority, DiFi’s “fix” not only reaffirmed the AUMF covering a war Obama ended today, but also affirmed the Executive Branch’s authority to use deadly force when ostensibly trying to detain people it claimed present a “significant threat of death or serious physical injury.” It affirms language that allows “deadly force” in the name of attempted detention.

In any case, it’s one or the other (or both). Either the AUMF language became acceptable to Obama because it included American citizens in the Afghan AUMF and/or it became acceptable because it affirmed the Executive Branch’s authority to use deadly force in the guise of apprehending someone whom the Executive Branch says represents a “significant threat.”

My guess is the correct answer to this “either/or” question is “both.”

So DiFi’s fix, which had the support of many Senators trying to protect civil liberties, probably made the matter worse.

In its more general capitulation on the veto, the Administration stated that the existing bill protects the Administration’s authority to “incapacitate dangerous terrorists.” “Incapacitate dangerous terrorists,” “use of deadly force” with those who present a “significant threat of death or serious physical injury.” No matter how you describe Presidential authority to kill Americans with no due process, the status quo appears undiminished.

Finally Al Jazeera asks: Is the principle of indefinite detention without trial now an accepted and permanent part of American life? I wonder if Michelle Obama is still proud to be an American today?

There is some other news, of course. For one thing, it seems as if Rep. Ron Wyden of Oregon must have more energy I can imagine having. As of today he managed to get the decisions on rural post office closings postponed until next May; he joined with Rep. Paul Ryan (!) to propose a medicare overhaul; and he and Darrel Isa (!) have proposed an alternative to the entertainment industry bill that would effectively shut down social networking on the internet. Check out those links if you’re interested.

One of my favorite economists, Robert Reich, has an analysis of Newt’s Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes.

Newt’s plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion – in a single year!

….

Most of this explosion of debt in Newt’s plan occurs because he slashes taxes. But not just anyone’s taxes. The lion’s share of Newt’s tax cuts benefit the very, very rich.

That’s because he lowers their marginal income tax rate to 15 percent – down from the current 35 percent, which was Bush’s temporary tax cut; down from 39 percent under Bill Clinton; down from at least 70 percent in the first three decades after World War II. Newt also gets rid of taxes on unearned income – the kind of income that the super-rich thrive on – capital-gains, dividends, and interest.

Under Newt’s plan, each of the roughly 130,000 taxpayers in the top .1 percent – the richest one-tenth of one percent – reaps an average tax cut of $1.9 million per year. Add what they’d otherwise have to pay if the Bush tax cut expired on schedule, and each of them saves $2.3 million a year.

To put it another way, under Newt’s plan, the total tax bill of the top one-tenth of one percent drops from around 38 percent of their income to around 10 percent.

What about low-income households? They get an average tax cut of $63 per year.

Oh, I almost forgot: Newt also slashes corporate taxes.

Wow!

Dakinikat clued me in to this post at Naked Capitalism: “Let Them Eat Pink Slips” CEO Pay Shot Up in 2010, which links to this article in the Guardian.

Chief executive pay has roared back after two years of stagnation and decline. America’s top bosses enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40% last year, according to the largest survey of US CEO pay. The dramatic bounceback comes as the latest government figures show wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.

America’s highest paid executive took home more than $145.2m, and as stock prices recovered across the board, the median value of bosses’ profits on stock options rose 70% in 2010, from $950,400 to $1.3m. The news comes against the backdrop of an Occupy Wall Street movement that has focused Washington’s attention on the pay packages of America’s highest paid.

The Guardian’s exclusive first look at the CEO pay survey from corporate governance group GMI Ratings will further fuel debate about America’s widening income gap. The survey, the most extensive in the US, covered 2,647 companies, and offers a comprehensive assessment of all the data now available relating to 2010 pay.

And these oligarchs couldn’t care less if we like it or not. They own the White House and the Congress and we don’t.

I’ll end with a bizarre and very sad story out of Utah:

Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot, football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she’d ever seen.

Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.

By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There’s no count on how many died, although officials estimate it’s upwards of 1,500.

“They’re just everywhere,” said Teresa Griffin, wildlife program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource’s southern region. “It’s been nonstop. All our employees are driving around picking them up, and we’ve got so many people coming to our office and dropping them off.”

Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?