Thursday Reads: I Don’t Belong in This World

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Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin today. Following the news these days is like going through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

So often in my life I’ve felt that I don’t belong in this world. I have that feeling today. There are so many people and events that I just don’t understand.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in an important case about affirmative action. Yesterday in a comment, Dakinikat posted this article from Mother Jones: Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at “Slower” Colleges.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race. The other 25 percent are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher—who was denied admission for the university in 2008—is challenging.

The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former US Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Scalia jumped in, questioning whether increasing the number of African Americans at the flagship university in Austin was in the black students’ best interests. He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

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This morning some writers are claiming that Scalia’s comments weren’t racist because he was referring to studies by respected researchers and not expressing his personal opinion.

Alex Griswold at Mediaite: Media Jumps The Gun, Attacks Scalia For Perfectly Reasonable Question.

First of all, it’s worth noting that oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand; it’s an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties. To that end, justices often advance arguments and theories they do not necessarily hold….

As it happens, Scalia was pretty accuratelyciting a brief filed by two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. They point to a study showing that black scientists are much more likely to have graduated from historically black colleges, even though those schools are less academically stringent than elite universities:

With only twenty percent of total black enrollment, these schools were producing forty percent of the black students graduating with natural science degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Those same students were frequently going on to earn Ph.D.s from non-HBCUs. The National Science Foundation reported, for example, that thirty-six percent of the blacks who earned an engineering doctorate between 1986 and 1988 received their undergraduate degree from an HBCU.

Why have HBCUs been so successful? [The authors] believed that unlike at mainstream institutions, African-American students at HBCUs were not grouped at the bottom of the class. Roughly half were in the top half of the class.

Scalia isn’t citing some crackpot theory that only these two civil rights officers are worried about, by the way. The“mismatch effect” is a pretty common critique of affirmative action in academia that’s based on pretty hard data. The most prominent book on the subject wasn’t written by cranks, it was written by UCLA and Stanford law professors.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

OK, but Scalia did express a personal opinion at the end of his remarks. Furthermore, these studies apparently do not address the issue of whether diversity in the student bodies and faculty at “elite” universities is a good thing for the college experience and for society as a whole.

James Warren also defended Scalia’s remarks at Poynter: Media muddle: Was Scalia being racist?

And then there’s the question of why so many Americans love their guns more than life itself–or at least the lives of their children and fellow citizens. Many of these people are the same ones who are constantly claiming they are “pro-life.” Someone please explain to me why this makes any sense.

The Christian Science Monitor: Why are gun rights activists planning a fake mass shooting?

Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.

Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.

The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and Dontcomply.com, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials.

Sorry, but I have no clue how this exercise could relate to an actual mass shooting event.

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And what about the phenomenon of Donald Trump? Why does he think it’s useful to fan the flames of racism, nativism, and Islamophobia and in the process increasing the visibility of hate groups and encouraging violent attacks on minority groups in the U.S.?

Politico: White supremacist groups see Trump bump.

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers to najlepszy hosting. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump’s rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Are Trump’s statements actually likely to energize hateful individuals to resort to violence?

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call on Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Trump’s proposal this week to halt the entrance of Muslims into the United States is only the latest statement to inject vigor into the racist fringe of American politics. “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized,” she said.

Check out this piece by Steve Benen: Trump spokesperson: ‘So what? They’re Muslim.’

Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, argued this morning on CNN that her boss’ proposed Muslim ban has merit because “never in United States history have we allowed insurgents to come across these borders.” Reminded that Trump’s policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence, the spokesperson was unmoved.
“So what?” Pierson replied. “They’re Muslim.”
reading-by-the-fire
How are voters responding to Trump’s hate speech against Muslims?
As for public opinion, it’s too soon to gauge polling reactions, but we already have a sense of Republican voters’ general attitudes on the subject.
Public Policy Polling published results yesterday on GOP voters’ attitudes in North Carolina. Among the findings:
* 48% of North Carolina Republicans endorse the idea of a national database of Muslims.
* 42% of North Carolina Republicans believed thousands of Middle Easterners cheered in New Jersey on 9/11.
* 35% of North Carolina Republicans support shutting down American mosques.
* 32% of North Carolina Republicans believe practicing Islam in the United States should be illegal.

WinterTan

We are certainly seeing plenty of attacks on Muslims around the country. On Tuesday I posted a story about someone leaving a pig’s head at a mosque in Philadelphia. Today, I saw this on Raw Story: Texans begin nightly smashing windows of Muslim family only six weeks after they move in.

A Muslim family in Plano, Texas fear that they may have been targeted with a hate crime after rocks smashed through their windows at least two times in the last week.

The family told KTVT that they moved to Plano six weeks ago, and that they believe that the people throwing the rocks may be sending a message about their religion.

Windows in the home have been smashed twice in the last two days. At their request, the names of the family members were not being released.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Alia Salem explained to KTVT that there had been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent weeks.

“Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” Salem said.

Why? This is not the America I want to live in. I’d rather escape into a book, but somehow I feel compelled to stay aware of what is happening.

What stories are you following today?


Wednesday Reads: Frankie and Olive…Cowboys and Indians

c29f6505c9a91abd7c06afae4b58b5baGood Morning

After suffering with a migraine the last four days, I really do not know what the hell has been going on in the world…that is, other than the few interesting stories Boston Boomer wrote about yesterday.

One thing I have been keeping an eye on for updates, was any news on the birth of Drew Barrymore’s second child. Well…yesterday it happened. Drew Barrymore Welcomes Daughter Frankie with Husband Will Kopelman

Drew Barrymore‘s own heart just got a little bigger: her baby girl is here!

c5c45e567fac09195ac326902b2ad3aaThe actress and star of the upcoming comedy, Blended, 39, and her husband, art advisor Will Kopelman, 36, welcomed their second child on Tuesday, April 22, her rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.

“Happy to announce that today we are the proud parents of our second daughter, Frankie Barrymore Kopelman,” the couple tell PEOPLE in a statement. “Olive has a new little sister, and everyone is healthy and happy!”

Yeah I know, for some I can hear the words…who gives a shit…but bully for her! Glad she has another healthy baby girl. I just thought the names made a great title for a post.

As for the cowboy and indians…from AJAM:  Cowboys and Indians ride into U.S. capital to protest Keystone pipeline

For a few days, teepees erected by Native Americans and their cowboy allies will frame the view of the Washington Monument from the National Mall.

CHARLES RELYEA 20'S 30'S

CHARLES RELYEA 20’S 30’S

A group of roughly 60 ranchers, farmers, tribal leaders and members whose land falls near or on the proposed pathway of the contested Keystone XL pipeline, calling themselves the Cowboy-Indian Alliance, rode into the nation’s capital on horseback Tuesday to set up camp and begin four days of demonstration to register their protest of the project.

The yet-to-be-approved 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, has been mired in controversylegal challenges and delays for five years.

Critics, many of them environmentalists, say that the Keystone XL will only deepen the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, hasten the effects of climate change (although that contention is disputed) and violate landowners’ rights.

Proponents, on the other hand, say its construction will boost the economy, lead to the creation of American jobs, and move the country towards energy independence.

Many see the issue as the defining test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to the environment. As a candidate in 2007, he vowed to end “the tyranny of oil.”

[…]

d9e66ff86a47aca498052e577ea785b4The ranchers and Native Americans — about 40 of whom led a procession on horseback before coming to the National Mall to set up a camp of teepees — said they wanted to ensure lawmakers and the Obama administration were hearing them loud and clear about their qualms.

Matthew Black Eagle Man, a 45-year-old member of the Sioux Long Plain First Nation tribe in Manitoba, Canada, said the government attempting to build a pipeline on Native American lands continues a longstanding pattern of abuse inflicted on indigenous people.

“For 500 years, our people have been suffering,” he said. “The government gave us the most desolate places in the country for our reservations. Now they want to build a pipeline on our land.”

Black Eagle Man said too that Native Americans were committed to being good stewards of the earth’s resources.

“We’re here to help protect the water, our first medicine,” he said. “Our most abundant resource is being destroyed by man.”

Hopi woman

Hopi woman

As for the cowboys:

“I raise horses on a small ranch and they can’t drink oil. Sooner or later, that thing’s going to leak,” said Mike Blocker, 62, whose ranch is in Antelope County in Nebraska, directly in the path of the pipeline. “How can you sleep at night knowing that 830,000 pounds of this crap is flowing underground where you live?”

Donna Roller, 62, who owns a farm in York County, Neb., was appalled that more of the public was not up in arms that a foreign oil company — TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline — was marching into the United States and trampling on American land rights.

“What the hell? What is wrong with the American public that they are complacent in this?” she said. “This is a foreign corporation that’s going to make billions off our backs. We won’t allow them to go — we will lay our bodies on the line with the Native Americans.”

1d4b8466875e6a82edcd74deabd95bc9“We need water, we need food,” she added. “We don’t need tar sands.”

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance has four days of events planned, including documentary screenings, meetings with environmental groups and elected leaders, traditional Native American ceremonies and delivering a teepee painted by the activists to the Museum of the American Indian in honor of Obama, as a sign of respect. The week will culminate in a rally on Saturday that organizers are expecting to attract 5,000 protestors.

The protest is planned for a full week, let’s see what comes of it.

The pictures for today’s post were found on pinterest of course, you can see some of the images here:

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American Indian on Pinterest

 

For the pinups by George Petty:

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George Petty on Pinterest

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And the one image that is my absolute favorite…which goes without saying….

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Yes, he is what you think he is.

Alright then. On we go.

91a0195e7bdc4b0075b7f2d727bea900After the news yesterday from SCOTUS, that effectively puts those 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Act celebrations earlier in the month to shame.  Court Backs Michigan on Affirmative Action

In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.

States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.

c8ca20371ba81ae1c2ed59b4db0a526aIn five separate opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

I know that Dakinikat quoted the Justices yesterday in the comments, but I wanted front page this real quick:

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest, most passionate and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”

Little Apache Girl

Little Apache Girl

Her opinion, longer than the four other opinions combined, appeared to reflect her own experiences with affirmative action at Princeton and Yale Law School. “I had been admitted to the Ivy League through a special door,” she wrote in her best-selling memoir, “My Beloved World.” For years, she wrote, “I lived the day-to-day reality of affirmative action.”

[…]

Signaling deep displeasure, Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move that happens perhaps three times a term. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants. Athletes, children of alumni and students from underrepresented parts of the state, she said, remained free to try to persuade university officials to give their applications special weight. “The one and only policy a Michigan citizen may not seek through this long-established process,” she wrote, “is a race-sensitive admissions policy.” That difference, she said, violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

d0a20e0a233cf74a4cc28e821a6223a5“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.

Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race to achieve integration in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

41fa258d065f403b73adb22304afbfadThat is a great way to introduce this little tidbit of news from a disturbing Easter Egg incident in Virginia (with snark of course): Some White Supremacists Planted Easter Eggs with Racist Messages in Them | Mediaite

Parents in the West End of Virginia discovered, much to their horror, that amongst the Easter eggs planted for egg hunts, there were eggs that contained messages from a white supremacist group. One family discovered an egg with a little piece of paper “‘Diversity’ = White Genocide” at the top. Here’s what it read:

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Yep, imagine your child getting an Easter egg with a recommendation to check out WhiteGenocideProject.com. Doesn’t that just fill you full of the holiday spirit?!

Parents are very disturbed that the eggs were placed on their property, with one saying, “You can hit the whole world with the Internet, stay out of my yard.”

0a028f47f31a8de11b8219c448bc4b93I don’t know…the whole thing is fucked up. Like that shit with CNN even giving the opportunity to discuss the KKK rebranding itself.

Things are just bad. Real bad.

Just a few more articles:

Albuquerque officer fatally shoots woman

Albuquerque police said an officer shot and killed an auto theft suspect early Monday, the third shooting by officers in the troubled department in just over a month and the first after a federal investigation faulted the department for excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression.

Gordon Eden, police chief of the New Mexico city, said the shooting occurred Monday morning during a chase.

“An officer pursued on foot when the suspect stopped, turned and pointed a handgun at close range,” Eden said.

Jim ThorpePolice identified the woman as Mary Hawkes, the daughter of Danny Hawkes, a retired magistrate judge in Valencia County, south of Albuquerque.

Court records show Mary Hawkes had two previous run-ins with the law as an adult, one for drinking in public and another for shoplifting, according to the Albuquerque Journal. As a juvenile, she was charged in 2011 with attempted criminal sexual contact of a child under 13. She was convicted of a lesser battery offense and sentenced to two years of probation.

No further details about the shooting were immediately available. Phone calls and e-mails to the Albuquerque Police Department were not returned.

The shooting comes just weeks after a series of sometimes violent protests against Albuquerque police, who have shot at 38 people since 2010, killing 24.

Citizens and civil rights group have repeatedly expressed concerns that the department is using excessive force, particularly with the city’s mentally ill and homeless populations.

More at the link.

a186a389681502017364e43f72e7938fHuffington Post had a link to an interactive article from the NY Times, from back in January. Mapping Poverty in America – The New York Times

Seems fitting to review it again.

And it goes hand in hand with this from the Daily Banter: Medicaid Expansion Will Cost States Even Less Than Expected | BobCesca.com

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

CBO now estimates that the federal government will, on average, pick up more than 95 percent of the total cost of the Medicaid expansion and other health reform-related costs in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the next ten years (2015-2024).

pettyStates will spend only 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP due to health reform than they would have spent without health reform. That’s about one-third less than CBO projected in February. And the 1.6 percent figure is before counting the state savings that the Medicaid expansion will produce in state expenditures for services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment provided to the uninsured.

The federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid until 2017 and, while it was projected that the government would cover 90 percent of the cost beyond that time period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects that the federal government will cover more than 95 percent until at least 2024.

Expanding Medicaid was already a pretty good deal for states given that the federal government will cover the entire cost for several years and the overwhelming majority of costs thereafter, but the deal just got sweeter.29e589a99c0f6e2c5255f257e4d668c8

But that doesn’t mean shit to the assholes who run the states like mine.

Finally, not all things that quack like a duck…turn out to be a duck. For the last 50 years there has been these strange quacking sounds heard from the Southern Ocean that has kept people wondering…what the hell is it?   Mystery of ‘ocean quack sound’ solved

The mystery of a bizarre quacking sound heard in the ocean has finally been solved, scientists report.

The noise – nicknamed “the bio-duck” – appears in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean. However, its source has baffled researchers for decades.

0faf7f7bffe307a999bab44105277a42Now acoustic recorders have revealed that the sound is in fact the underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale.

The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Massachusetts, said: “It was hard to find the source of the signal.

“Over the years there have been several suggestions… but no-one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”

The rest of this story sounds like something out of The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964):

The strange sound was first detected by submarines about 50 years ago. Those who heard it were surprised by its quack-like qualities.

Since then, the repetitive, low frequency noise has been recorded many times in the waters around the Antarctic and western Australia. Suggestions for its source have ranged from fish to ships.

301d48163519856c8775879de4e51f36The researchers now say they have “conclusive evidence” that the bio-duck is produced by the Antarctic minke whale.

In 2013, acoustic recorders were attached to two of the marine mammals and recorded the whales making the strange noise.

Dr Risch said: “It was either the animal carrying the tag or a close-by animal of the same species producing the sound.”

They still need to do analysis on the tapes to see when or why the whales make the sounds, but at least the scientist are sure the minke are the ones making the noise.

This is not the only acoustic puzzle that scientists have recently shed light on

Another baffling low frequency noise – called The Bloop – turned out to be the sound of Antarctica’s ice cracking.

And there you are…

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Well, have a good day and if you feel like seeing some Cowboys and Indians…TCM is having a John Wayne marathon this week, 58 movies: John Wayne – Star of the Month

I am no Duke fan, but I had to end this post the way it started…pilgrim.

 

 

 

 


Another Republican Wingnut Spouts Surreal Idiocy

Senator Weird Hair

Another day, another Republican wingnut reveals his ugly inner self. This time it’s Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Let’s see … where to begin….

Via Think Progress: At a town hall meeting in Pryor, OK, a woman who advocates for people in nursing homes asked Coburn a how we can balance the budget and also make sure the “frail elderly” are protected.

QUESTION: With more and more cuts in Medicare and Medicaid on the horizon, I’m really worried about protecting our frail elderly in the Medicare and Medicaid facilities. So I would like to know how Congress proposes to balance the budget and still make sure our frail elderly in these facilities are protected and have trained care staff, especially in the home care services for seniors sector.

COBURN: That’s a great question. The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that? That’s number one. Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.

Oh really?

Read the rest of this entry »