Sunday Reads: MALcontents

Good morning. Just going to dive into the cartoons, via Cagle:

Read this thread all the way through:

Fuck Herschel Walker.

This is all for now, it’s an open thread.


Thursday Reads: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Lives

Peonies, by Claude Monet

Good Morning!!

Even as we worry about Trump and Bolton starting a war with Iran and about the Democrats refusing to follow the Impeachment road map provided by Robert Mueller, American women must face the fact that our very personhood is being attacked.

Personally, I have decided that I will not vote for any man for president. The right of women to make decisions about our own bodies is too important.

Here’s the latest on the War on Women:

NBC News: Missouri Senate passes bill to outlaw abortion at 8 weeks.

Missouri’s Senate has passed what its authors call one of the nation’s most stringent anti-abortion bills, which would outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.

The Republican-led Senate passed the bill, dubbed Missouri Stands With The Unborn, by a margin of 24 to 10 early Thursday morning….

Missouri’s move comes hours after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that would introduce a near-total abortion ban in that state. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.

Louisiana is following suit with its own “heartbeat” abortion ban, which was approved unopposed by the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

Abortion right activists are mobilizing in Alabama. The Washington Post: Governor signs Alabama abortion ban, which has galvanized support on both sides, setting up a lengthy fight.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As a crop duster with a banner saying “Abortion is okay” hummed above the capitol, circling back and forth around the governor’s mansion, a group of women below let out a cheer.

Amaryllis by Piet Mondrian (1910)

“Just another day in Alabama,” said Mia Raven, director of People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment and Rights (POWER) House. “We knew this would pass and we got ready.”

Amanda Reyes, who works with an abortion fund, was wearing an “I’m on the pill” T-shirt, complete with instructions printed on the back detailing how to get a medical abortion. She also looked skyward: “Here it comes again! That’s just the coolest thing.”

Hours after the Alabama Senate voted late Tuesday to ban abortions in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest — women’s rights activists and abortion rights advocates said the decision to approve the nation’s strictest abortion measure has energized them. Knowing that the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, they are gearing up for the fight.

The Washington Post: Louisiana ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban nearing final passage.

BATON ROUGE, La. — A proposal to ban abortions in Louisiana as early as the sixth week of pregnancy continued to speed through the state legislature Wednesday, the same day Alabama’s governor signed the nation’s most restrictive law against the procedure.

Without objection, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee backed legislation to prohibit abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, similar to laws passed in several conservative states that are aimed at challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Louisiana’s ban, however, only would take effect if a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi.

Louisiana’s so-called fetal “heartbeat bill” is sponsored by state Sen. John Milkovich, one of several measures that lawmakers are advancing to add new restrictions on abortion. Senators already have supported the bill, which will next receive full House consideration, one step from final passage. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he will sign the measure if it reaches his desk.

The New York Times sums up the current abortion landscape: ‘The Time Is Now’: States Are Rushing to Restrict Abortion, or to Protect It.

Alex Katz, Tulips 4, 2013

States across the country are passing some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in decades, deepening the growing divide between liberal and conservative states and setting up momentous court battles that could profoundly reshape abortion access in America….

The national race to pass new legislation began last fall, after President Trump chose Brett M. Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, adding what some predicted would be a fifth vote to uphold new limits on abortion. Red states rushed to pass more restrictions and blue states to pass protections.

Now, as state legislative sessions draw to a close in many places, experts count about 30 abortion laws that have passed so far.

That is not necessarily more than in past years, said Elizabeth Nash, a legal expert at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.

What’s different is the laws themselves, which have gone further than ever to frontally challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that established federal protections for abortion.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Interestingly, these extreme laws could be interfering with right wing plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Flowers in a Glass Vase by John Constable (c. 1814)

Even Pat Robertson thinks the Alabama law is too “extreme.” The Washington Post: Televangelist Pat Robertson: Alabama’s abortion ban is ‘extreme’ and has ‘gone too far.’

Longtime televangelist Pat Robertson decried Alabama’s new abortion ban as “extreme,” saying on his show on Wednesday that the state legislature has “gone too far.”

Alabama’s law, which has been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions and has no exceptions for rape or incest, Robertson noted on his show.

“They want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is I don’t think that’s the case I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” Robertson told viewers of CBN’s “The 700 Club” on Wednesday.

David G. Savage at The Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court is not eager to overturn Roe vs. Wade — at least not soon.

The Supreme Court justices will meet behind closed doors Thursday morning and are expected to debate and discuss — for the 14th time — Indiana’s appeal of court rulings that have blocked a law to prohibit certain abortions.

The high court’s action — or so far, nonaction — in Indiana’s case gives one clue as to how the court’s conservative majority will decide the fate of abortion bans recently passed by lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed her state’s ban into law on Wednesday.

Pot of Geraniums, Henri Matisse

Lawmakers in those states have said they approved the bans in an effort to force the high court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The justices have many ways to avoid such a sweeping ruling, however. And Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his 14 years on the high court, has typically resisted moving quickly to decide major controversies or to announce abrupt, far-reaching changes in the law.

Roberts’ history, along with the court’s handling of abortion cases in recent years, suggests he will not move to overturn the right to abortion soon, or all at once, and is particularly unlikely to do so in the next year or two with a presidential election pending.

At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick makes a similar argument: Alabama’s Extremist Abortion Bill Ruins John Roberts’ Roe Plan.

One could feel sorry for Chief Justice John Roberts. He is, after all, caught in an unsightly squeeze play between anti-abortion zealots in Alabama, and slightly less wild-eyed anti-abortion zealots in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana (the court seems unable to make a decision on whether to grant the Indiana petition it has been sitting on for months now). There’s finally a five-justice majority within striking distance of a decades-long dream to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the anti-choice activists are getting ahead of themselves like slurring drunks at a frat party and making everything more transparently nasty than it need be.

Hibiscus by Hiroshige (c. 1845)

There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the real goal of three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.

Read the rest at Slate.

(Mostly) male legislators are ignoring the realities of actual women’s lives.

When Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, for example, was asked if the law would allow for incest victims to obtain abortions, he responded: “Yes, until she knows she’s pregnant.”

He did not elaborate on how someone would have an abortion before she knows she’s pregnant, outside of claiming, “It takes time for all the chromosomes to come together.”

Flower Garden by Gustav Klimt, 1905

Women’s bodies, lives, and futures are quite literally in the hands of men who seemingly couldn’t pass a high school health class. That’s part of what’s so hard about watching these debates: It’s not just that women’s rights and autonomy are being legislated away, but that it’s being done by complete morons.

This lack of remedial understanding of women’s bodies is not limited to Alabama. Representative John Becker of Ohio, a Republican, for example, sponsored a bill to limit insurance coverage for abortions, but claimed that it would have an exception for ectopic pregnancies, when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. “That treatment would be removing the embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus,” he said, explaining a procedure that doesn’t exist and isn’t medically possible.

There is also Texas state Representative Dan Flynn, a Republican, who believes abortion requires cutting into a woman’s uterus, or Vito Barbieri, the Idaho state Representative, a Republican, who thought you could give a woman a remote gynecological exam by having her swallow a tiny camera.

Shannon Dingle at USA Today: I was 12 years old and pregnant. Alabama’s abortion ban bill would punish girls like me.

Roses and Lillies by Henri Fantin-Latour (1888)

I was that 11-year-old pregnant by rape in Ohio, except I had just turned 12 and lived in Florida….She is 11. She has experienced and is experiencing violating trauma. Maybe someday she will tell her story, but today is not that day.

I can tell my story, though. I was newly 12. I lived in a suburb of Tampa. I had gotten my period a couple years before, and it came regularly once it started. I knew to expect it every 32 days.

It was July, the summer between sixth and seventh grade, when days 33, 34, 35 and more passed with no period. I had read in one of my sister’s Seventeen magazines that periods aren’t always regular, so I figured this was my first one of those.

It wasn’t….I never chose to have sex at such a young age, but abusers in my family chose to rape me. I had lost count of the number of times by then. With a dad high ranking in the county sheriff’s office, I didn’t trust going to the police. I had tried to tell teachers and church volunteers, but that never went anywhere, either.

Please go read the rest if you haven’t already.

Women and girls in the U.S. are in real danger. For me this is the number one issue for women in the upcoming presidential election.

As always, this is an open thread.


Thursday Reads

Lane change

Good Afternoon!!

I’m getting a very slow start today–sorry about that! This is going to be pretty much a link dump.

I just can’t stop thinking about Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman–who still isn’t getting much attention from the national media. There is a nice article about Kindra in The Independent UK today.

Kindra Darnell Chapman was booked at the Homewood County Jail on a first-degree robbery charge after allegedly stealing another person’s cellphone, AL.com reported.

Family members and activists have compared the teen’s death to the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell just a day prior. Kathy Brady, the teen’s mother told AL.com that she believes police officers have killed her daughter….

A family member, who requested to not be identified, told My Fox Alabama that Chapman was a “wonderful person who did not deserve this.”

“She was a great person. She loved her sisters, her brother, she loved everybody. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

Police claim Kindra committed suicide. Two so-called suicides of black women in two days? Their families are demanding answers and Americans need to make sure they get truthful ones.

Police claim they last saw her alive at 6:30pm and at 7:50pm, they found her hanged by a bedsheets in her cell. The teen was rushed to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

A Change.org petition titled “We want immediate full disclosure on the alleged suicide of Kindra Darnell Chapman” demands transparency in the ongoing investigation. Nearly 2,700 signatures supported the petition as of Thursday morning.

A spokesperson from the Jefferson County DA’s office told The Independent that the autopsy may take up to four weeks and toxicology report may take six to eight, a usual time frame for the reports in Alabama.

The Sandra Bland case is getting massive coverage. Yesterday it was revealed that the video of Bland’s arrest had serious anomalies. The first to call attention to this was journalist Ben Norton. From his website: Dashcam Video of Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland Was Edited. If you go to that link, there are a number of updates. From the original piece:

The Texas Department of Public Safety uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded appear to have been doctored.

A man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated….

At 32:37, a white car drives into the left side of the frame, then promptly disappears in the middle of the road. Seconds later, the same car drives back into the frame and subsequently turns left. This footage is later looped several times.

A different white car also drives into the left side of the frame and turns left from 32:49 to 32:59. The previous white car again briefly enters the frame at 33:04, and once more at 33:06, yet it suddenly disappears both times. When these cuts are made in the footage, the lights on top of the truck in the center of the frame also abruptly cut out.

At 33:08, the exact same footage from 32:37 is repeated, followed by the same second white car at 33:17….

It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking. Who exactly edited the footage is unknown, but the video was recorded by police and released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Please go to the link to read the rest along with multiple updates. Here’s just one:

They told the Texas Tribune that the video has not been edited. This seems unlikely. It is possible parts of the repeated footage are encoding errors, but it is unlikely that the 15-second repeated clip of a man leaving the truck is an encoding error.

Others have also noted that police dashcam videos usually have timecode on the footage. In this video, the timecode do not appear. Why this is is unclear. There is no answer at this point and an investigation needs to be conducted. A possibility some have suggested, however, is that, if the footage was indeed edited, as it likely was, whoever edited it zoomed in on the video or cropped the timecode.

The LA Times has also examined the police videos closely. Today they have a side-by-side comparison of the video with the anomalies vs. the “cleaned-up” video.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Waller County officials are getting plenty of pushback. From KHOU:

Police agencies and city halls throughout Waller County continue to receive angry and sometimes threatening phone calls and emails from across the country after the tragic jail death of Sandra Bland.

And along with the Bland’s death, city leaders and residents say they also mourn the negative national spotlight the incident has brought to this corner of Southeast Texas.

“We are in some way being judged and victimized by people that don’t know us and are making assumptions about us,” said Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has held face-to-face meetings with the Bland family.

Oh, boo hoo. Too f**king bad. Stop victimizing black people who drive cars through your county then.

The corporate media has mostly been focusing on trying to make Bland look like a crazy, depressed drug user. It also turns out she had epilepsy; and when she told the arresting officer that, he said “Good!” as he continued to manhandle her. The simple truth is that she never should have been stopped in the first place; and once she was stopped, the officer escalated the confrontation in unconstitutional ways. Regardless of how she died, Sandra Bland should be alive today and working in her new job.

Selected headlines on the Sandra Bland case:

Huffington Post: 6 Things You Should Know About The County Where Sandra Bland Died. This part of Texas has a long, complicated relationship with race.

Think Progress: What The Supreme Court Has To Say About Sandra Bland’s Arrest.

The New Republic: Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested.

CNN: Twitter responds to jail deaths with ‘if I die in police custody.’

CBS Chicago: Apparent Voice Mail From Sandra Bland Released; Tests Revealed Marijuana, Cutting Scars.

CTV News: Sandra Bland was incredulous, aggravated in calls from jail: report.

ABC News: Sandra Bland Had ‘Lows and Highs,’ Her Sister Says. (Who the hell doesn’t? I hate to think what they’d write about me from my past history!)

More News Headlines

NY Times: Kenya Trip Takes Obama Back to a Complex Part of Himself.

Dallas Morning News: Kenya eagerly awaits Obama visit.

CNN: Obama’s trip raises security concerns.

LA Times: The Reading Life: Happy birthday to me — and Raymond Chandler. (Today would have been Raymond Chandler’s 127th birthday.)

NY Times:E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84; Literary Time Traveler Stirred Past Into Fiction.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Border Wall Would Cost Billions, Experts Say.

NY Times: Donald Trump Threatens Third Party Candidacy.

NPR: Texas Fights Suit After Denying Birth Certificates To Children Of Illegal Immigrants.

Raw Story: Lesbian couple breaks silence: We filed complaint against Oregon bakery to ‘stop being bullied.’

Brian Murphy at TPM Cafe: How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors.

Dallas Morning News: Ted B. Lyon Jr.: Let’s get real about Rick Perry’s Texas record

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Valentine’s Day Blizzard Edition

Computer simulation of the wind field associated with the New England storm on Feb. 15, 2015.

Computer simulation of the wind field associated with the New England storm on Feb. 15, 2015 (image from Earth Simulator at earth.nullschool.net.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

To anyone who aren’t jaded by past relationship experiences, I wish you a wonderful, romantic day. For the rest of us, it’s Saturday, and that’s nice too. For millions of people in the upper Midwest and New England, it’s just one more blizzard. Ho-Hum {yawn}.

Michigan was in the eye of the storm last night, and later today it will hit the Boston area. Once again, the storm is going to be at its worst along the coast, including in the Greater Boston area. From NBC News: Northeast Braced for Blizzard as Another Winter Storm Looms.

Fifty million Americans were braced for another punishing winter blast Saturday – even as the Northeast was digging out from three major storms in as many weeks.

Twenty-six states were under weekend winter weather warnings, with no sign of an end in sight to the freezing conditions.

Some of the coldest air in the past 20 years will be accompanied by winds approaching hurricane force — and, for the snow-battered coast of New England, what could be a paralyzing blizzard.

A blizzard watch was in effect from the Maine-Canada border south to Long Island and a winter storm watch was in place for New Hampshire and parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

We’ve been under a blizzard warning her since yesterday afternoon, but we’re not supposed to get the really high winds until tomorrow. From Mashable: The upcoming Boston blizzard may be equivalent to Category 2 hurricane.

UPDATED 4 p.m. ET: The National Weather Service upgraded the blizzard watch to a blizzard warning for Boston, which is in effect from Saturday at 7 p.m. ET to Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. The blizzard warnings and watches stretch from Cape Cod all the way to the border between Maine and Canada. The NWS is forecasting between 10 to 14 inches of snow in Boston on top of the three to four feet already on the ground, and is also warning of a life-threatening combination of powerful winds and cold temperatures during and in the wake of the storm through Sunday.

The powerful Valentine’s Day storm set to blast eastern New England this weekend with roaring, frigid winds, heavy snow and pounding surf will be so strong that it can be compared in some ways to a Category 2 hurricane.

Fortunately, though, it will not bring the same impacts as a hurricane of that intensity, but its effects on multiple locations — from Providence and Boston to Portland and Bangor, Maine — will be similar to a winter hurricane, with power outages, tree and structural damage, and coastal flooding. Depending on the storm’s exact track, it could dump a foot or more of additional snow in the Boston area, with even more snow in coastal New Hampshire and Maine.

Yup. The good news is that we’re only expecting about a foot of snow this time. After I managed to dig myself out of the last storm all by myself (a little bit at a time), I’m feeling pretty confident I can handle one more foot of snow. Of course there are predictions of more snow for Tuesday and next weekend, but those are puny little 3-5 inch storms. I went to the grocery store yesterday, and I’m all stocked up. I know I won’t get out again for several days, but I’ll deal with it.

Meanwhile how much snow will the Boston area have gotten if the predictions for this storm hold true? Check out this image from the National Weather Service, via Mashable:

Snowfall-projected

So what should I do while I’m trapped in the house today, tomorrow, and who knows how many days after that? I could watch some of these “kickass sci-fi/fantasy” movies at The Mary Sue blog (I found it by following one of JJ’s links from last night’s post).

10 Kick-Ass Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movies on Netflix to Celebrate Valentine’s Day With

For some, Valentine’s Day is a day for love, sex, ’n’ romance. For others, it’s… not. Options include: Be Bitter About Your Love Life Day! Be Defensive About Your Lack of Love Life Day! Day Before Discount Candy Day! Or… drumroll…SATURDAY! Regardless of how you choose to live your life, not all of us will be sopping up the rom-com vibes come the fourteenth. For you lovely bastards, I present this list of ten kick-ass action movies to stream on Netflix while all your be-coupled friends are off being all lovey-dovey.

Or, hey, how about some of you watch one of these with your equally-badass significant others? Screw The Notebook. Definitely screw 50 Shades of Grey. (Or don’t screw 50 Shades of Grey. That shit’s gross.) BE BOLD!

Check out the list at the link and see what you think.

valentine-roses

Or I could catch up on the latest political and foreign affairs news. Here are just a few of today’s top stories.

BBC News, Ukraine crisis: Poroshenko says peace deal in danger.

The Ukrainian president has warned a deal to end the war in the east is in “great danger” after heavy fighting ahead of Saturday night’s ceasefire.

Petro Poroshenko also accused Russia of “significantly increasing” its offensive in spite of the peace agreement reached in Minsk on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the US said it was very concerned by reports of heavy weapons coming across the border from Russia.

Big surprise, right? CNN has more details, Shelling in Ukraine cities ahead of midnight ceasefire.

Mariupol, Ukraine (CNN)Shelling could be heard in two eastern Ukrainian cities Saturday morning ahead of a midnight ceasefire deadline, raising fears that the deal to end a bitter 10-month-long conflict may be in jeopardy.

Both incoming and outgoing artillery could be seen in the vicinity of the coastal city of Mariupol, and there was significant shelling in rebel-held Donetsk through the morning, CNN teams reported….

Poroshenko said that after the agreement reached Thursday by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, the offensive against Ukrainian troops by the separatists had intensified.

The separatists may be trying to take control of strategic locations, such as the railroad hub of Debaltseve to the north, before the ceasefire lines are drawn. Pro-Kiev militia have also been pushing forward around government-controlled Mariupol.

Much more at the link.

add9a273

Canada says they have prevented a serious attack that didn’t involve Islamic terrorists. CBS News reports:

TORONTO — Canadian authorities said Saturday that a foiled Valentine’s Day mass murder plot in Halifax was not related to Islamic terrorism.

“This appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were coming here, or were living here, and prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community,” Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay said. “It would have been devastating. Mass casualties were a real possibility.”

MacKay said all the suspects have been arrested or are dead. He said police would release more information publicly later Saturday. He credited police for their quick action.

A senior police official told The Associated Press that the two suspects were planning to go to a mall and kill as many people as they could before committing suicide.

According to the Globe and Mail,

Mr. MacKay [said that the] group’s motivation…seemed to be “quite random”. “It didn’t appear to be any specific philosophy that motivated this,” he said. “So there is no clear line … there is a very grey area in terms of anyone who would do this for any reason,” he said.

Police have yet to say what was motivating the four young people – three men from Nova Scotia and a woman from Illinois.

Referring to today being Valentine’s Day, Mr. MacKay said: “A day known to represent love and affection would have taken on a much different meaning today.”

“Based on what we know so far it would have been devastating,” he said. “Mass casualties were a real possibility.”

valentines-day-comment-050

Just a short time ago today, there was an attack on a “free speech event” in Copenhagen. NBC News reports:

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish media say several shots have been fired at a cafe in Copenhagen where a meeting about freedom of speech was being held, organized by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced numerous threats for caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad in 2007. The TV2 channel said Saturday there were some 30 bullet holes in the window of the Krudttoenden cafe and said at least two people were taken away on stretchers, including a uniformed police officer. NBC News has not immediately confirmed the details.

Helle Merete Brix, one of the organizers of the event, told The Associated Press that Vilks was present at the event but not injured. When the artist is in Denmark, he receives police protection. The cafe in northern Copenhagen, known for its jazz concerts, was hosting an event titled “Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression” when the shots were fired. Niels Ivar Larsen, one of the speakers at the event, told the TV2 channel that he saw two wounded people.

I guess we’ll be hearing more about that later today.

Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon resigned yesterday in the wake of a scandal involving his fiancee, who has been acting as the state’s first lady.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned effective Wednesday, Feb. 18, in a letter submitted to Secretary of State Kate Brown.

“I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon,” he wrote in a statement released just after noon Friday.

Brown, also a Democrat, will be sworn in as Oregon’s 37th governor, but the timing of that ceremony is uncertain.

In just four months, a public corruption scandal involving Kitzhaber and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, has hobbled one of Oregon’s most durable politicians. Kitzhaber, a public official for 37 years, was sworn in for a historic fourth term as governor just a month ago. Facing not only a state criminal investigation and an ethics review, Kitzhaber watched his support from fellow veteran lawmakers crumble this week.

The governor’s resignation does not end either the criminal investigation or ethics review.

images

The Oregonian has more details on the scandal, Massive FBI investigation targets Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Cylvia Hayes, and the Washington Post has a profile of Kitzhaber’s successor, This woman will soon become the first openly bisexual governor in American history.

In Alabama, the fight against allowing same sex couples to marry appears to be failing, according to The Washington Post, A majority of Alabama counties are now issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Two-thirds of Alabama counties have agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to gay rights groups, a dramatic turnaround from earlier this week when all but a handful were holding the licenses back.

The change in policy came after a federal judge on Thursday ordered officials in Mobile County to comply with her ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The decision led a number of probate judges to conclude that the ruling also applies to them, even though they got conflicting orders from the state’s chief justice, Roy Moore.

“Once that was done yesterday, [the probate judge] was satisfied we wouldn’t end up in a lawsuit or in trouble, so we’re doing it,” said a woman who identified herself as a manager in the Cherokee County probate office, one of at least 42 counties where same-sex marriage licenses are now available in Alabama, according to Equality Alabama, a local gay rights group. The manager declined to give her name because she wasn’t authorized to speak for the office.

“It wasn’t ever a thing of us not wanting to, morally or religiously, we were just kind of waiting for clarification,” she said.

Several counties indicated they would begin issuing the licenses next week. Still, that left about 20 of the state’s 67 counties as apparent holdouts.

And The New York times has a nice profile of an Alabama gay couple who have “tr[ied] to wed, early and often.”

flowers

Finally, an Appeal for Help from Sky Dancers

Before I sign off, I need to ask our readers for some help for my dear friend Dakinikat. Although she rarely complains, Kat has struggled for the past 4-5 years with chronic pain and an inability to walk or stand for any length of time because of untreatable dermatitis on her feet. At times her feet bleed and she has to go through multiple changes of socks in the course of a day. She has tried every possible treatment for the condition, but nothing seems to work for any length of time.

For the past 3 years Kat has essentially been disabled. Frankly,  just getting out of the house to buy groceries is a painful process for her. It is even difficult for her to do daily tasks around the house like laundry and loading the dishwasher.

Kat has been doing her best to support herself with an on-line teaching job that she can do at home, but the work pays so poorly that IMHO, it amounts to slave labor. It hasn’t been enough to cover her mortgage and other basic expenses. As a result, Kat was forced to dip into her savings and at this point the money she had saved for retirement is nearly gone.

The three of us writers work very hard to produce interesting posts 7 days a week. All three of us are struggling financially and in other ways, but we take pride in this blog and the work we have done to sustain it for quite a few years now. But this blog would be nothing without Dakinikat. I well remember what a relief it was to come here after the difficulties many of us experienced at another place. I’m sure a number of you also recall those days. Kat is the one who opened her personal blog to us and who has taken responsibility for maintaining and improving the blog design over the years.

Right now, Kat is truly in desperate straits. I suggested that we should ask for contributions to help tide her over until she can either find more work or figure out what else she can do to make ends meet–perhaps by moving to a state that isn’t being bankrupted by its own governor.

If you have appreciated this blog over the years and you can afford to give something, I would be eternally grateful. We seldom ask for donations at Sky Dancing; we do this because we love to write and we’re fascinated by politics and current events. But this is a special case. Kat has been a wonderful friend to me–and to others here as well–and I hate to see her struggling like this. Please help if you can afford it–if you can’t, I totally understand. But I had to ask. Thanks so much for reading this and for whatever you can do to help.

What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


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?