Wednesday Night: Even Dakinis Get the Blues

POLITICS-WEINER_image_982wOkay, and I am going to try to get back in the loop here and write posts and be erudite and let’s see … is it too late to make some good New Year’s Resolutions?  Probably.  Anyway, I am sitting under the breeze of one of my two newly installed ceiling fans that are a blowing some cold air my way on these series of hot humid days and nights that I’ve been enduring and enduring and enduring.  Did I mention that my bathroom faucet is new and it doesn’t leak?  My screen door by the kitchen closes and locks.  My front storm shutters close and lock again which could be very auspicious giving the look of TS Dorian. There are hardly any vines creeping any where in my backyard.  Oh, and I’ve spent a week seeing my neighborhood and city with fresh eyes with my friend who did all these things for me.  I was waking up and feeling and then, whoa … back to that desk of papers and the knowledge that you’re not going to wake up to the smell of coffee unless you make it or the feel of other things that I will not expound on here because, well, I’m going to spare you since this is a blog about politics …

I am in awe of people who can fix things with such facile. It makes me understand what people are thinking when I sit down to play a piano concerto and it looks like all am I doing is breathing.  It’s really not since I’ve played since I was three and my mother was a task master both at technique and time put in practicing endlessly and doing scales endlessly.  You do anything long enough, you make it look like it’s breathing.  Then, there are those things you swear you are never going to repeat because you really do not want to become a master.  There are these things that you do despite all those promises you make to yourself and you tell your self very convincingly and enthusiastically that you really really don’t want to do that again because how you eventually have to feel about it.  It’s those niggling habits you just can’t break. Those traps you fall back into.   It’s those little behaviors that sneak up on you once you have convinced yourself you have turned a new leaf.  There are just those things that always trip you up just about the time you think you have yourself and life all figured out.  There’s a hole some where from wearing out the same ground endlessly. There is the feeling good part and the rest of it …

This is I where I get to say that Anthony Wiener and the House Republicans seem to never change.

What makes so many of us so self-destructive?  Why do we do things that are so obviously bad or disruptive for us and those around us? What makes us dive back into things when we’ve had such bad luck at it in the past?  We’ve gotten through the season of renewal and we are firmly planted in the here and now of watching our karma and fruits ripen. There are bananas in the backyard hanging thick and aiming to take the tree down before they fully yellow. The lemons still look like little green balls but not for long with this heat and humidity. The green lemon balls and the bananas should start turning the side and back yard a green with some dashes and dots of yellow very quickly.  The fruit ripens eventually. Now, where oh where am I going?  That, at the moment, is my eternal question. Why create some havoc where there was none before?

So, now, I’ve got to tell myself to do the work to do list with a smile and figure out what is going on in the world outside my backdoor outside of the abrupt change to my safe little rut.  I just popped out of my rut long enough to recognize one when I see it.  This is I why see that the Anthony Wiener and the House Republicans seem to never change.For that matter, neither does our President.  It’s a feedback loop of FAIL.

So, there’s this endless loop of behavior that lets us know that some things we just don’t seem to get beyond no matter how many times we shake our fists at the sky and say Never EVER again, will I go hungry.  Even though it makes for great theatrics, we still find ourselves chasing down ourselves.

So, it would be really, really easy for me to say RUN HUMA RUN!! for my first bit of sage advice today.  I would also like to say that I wish she would both run for mayor and away from Anthony Wiener but these things always look so easy when you’re not wearing those shoes.  However, here’s the NYT with their version of sage advice from the vantage point of some one else’s shoes.

At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.

Mr. Weiner, who resigned from Congress two years ago after sending lewd messages and photos of his crotch to women he had not met, was forced to revisit the issue on Tuesday, and so were we all. A Web site called The Dirty had another woman’s story, another round of sex texts, and another picture of Mr. Weiner’s penis. The startling news was that this new episode apparently took place last summer, only a few months before Mr. Weiner was to begin another run at public office. The marital trauma that Mr. Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, had said was behind them was not as far behind as we thought.

So, I am now weirdly telling myself to wash a pillowcase so I don’t grab it and smell it endlessly.  I am not one to give sage advice on oddly compulsive behaviors when it comes to people’s interpersonal relationships.

I do however, long for the day when President Barrack Obama does say something about the economy other than the Republicans won’t let me fix things.

“With an endless parade of distraction, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama told a crowd at Knox College in Illinois this afternoon. “And I am here to say this needs to stop.” Later in the speech, Obama vowed: “I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifferences to get in our way.”

I am also tired of Republicans in Congress that can’t seem to find their way out of whatever scratched 1950 Pat Boone Single they keep playing on that record player.

In one example of an unusual move, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation — Heritage Action — announced Tuesday it will grade lawmakers on the basis of whether they sign on as cosponsors of — not merely vote for — a bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to prohibit any funding of Obamacare in the annual budgeting process.

That legislation has won over more than just the usual suspects. Its 27 cosponsors — all Republicans — include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), both of whom are running for reelection in 2014 and are facing primary challengers from the right.

“We have one last chance to stop this if the White House won’t cooperate, and that’s through our budgeting process,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), another cosponsor, who is eager to make nice with the right after his major push for comprehensive immigration reform. “Some will say, ‘Well, that’s crazy. You are going to shut down the government over Obamacare?’ No, what’s crazy is moving forward with this thing.”

How many times do we have to label all of this MASSIVE FAIL and read about it?

Have the dog days of summer come early for me or is it the same for every one else too?

They sell wood putty and Spackle and calking for various holes and leaks.  Maybe some one should invent something for hearts and personalities that just don’t seem to approach wholeness.  You just have to remind yourself that some things get less sharp over time.  It’s just not the minds of Republicans or the personal decisions of Anthony Wiener.


Wednesday Reads: Good Day, Yes?

coffeeframe2Good Morning

Yesterday was a good day, at least for me and a few of the people I love. My daughter is feeling better from her staph infection, my friend out in the cornfields of Iowa got a new job with the Secretary of State’s office, my son is kicking the hell out of a football and this little chocolate puff I have waited months for is finally growing up.

Let’s get to this morning’s reads, here are the latest headlines…I won’t bother to quote from them for you because honestly it is the same old shit, ah…stuff.

This guy is disgusting:  Weiner admits more lewd conduct, vows to stay in New York mayoral race – The Washington Post

I secretly hope they name this kid Geoffrey, but my money is on James or George: Kate Middleton, Prince William emerge with royal baby: ‘We’re still working on a name’   – NY Daily News

Hey, talk about same old shit…only the country changes: General outlines options for U.S. intervention in Syria – CBS News

Meanwhile another rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up yesterday: Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’ | NOLA.com

And, in Milwaukee, a jury has brought a guilty verdict in another unarmed black teen murder trial: John Henry Spooner gets life sentence in death of black teen | theGrio

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.

Okay, so I had to quote a bit of that story…

I’ve got another link from the Grio, this makes a lot of sense to me: Why breast cancer kills more black women: They’re sicker | theGrio

And while you read that article, think about the affect all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing will have on those statistical averages of fatal cancer rates in black women.  Damn, it makes me so mad.

Shakesville blog has a post up about the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, and how North Carolina is making the most out of it: Cool Democracy We’ve Got

The Supreme Court’s garbage voting rights decision last month paved the way for this shit: “North Carolina on Cusp of Passing Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Nation.” Among the new requirements being proposed to access voting:

Implementing a strict voter ID requirement that bars citizens who don’t have a proper photo ID from casting a ballot.

Eliminating same-day voter registration, which allowed residents to register at the polls.

Cutting early voting by a full week.

Increasing the influence of money in elections by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 and increasing the limit every two years.

Making it easier for voter suppression groups like True The Vote to challenge any voter who they think may be ineligible by requiring that challengers simply be registered in the same county, rather than precinct, of those they challenge.

Vastly increasing the number of “poll observers” and increasing what they’re permitted to do. In 2012, ThinkProgress caught the Romney campaign training such poll observers using highly misleading information.

Only permitting citizens to vote in their specific precinct, rather than casting a ballot in any nearby ward or election district. This can lead to widespread confusion, particularly in urban areas where many precincts can often be housed in the same building.

Barring young adults from pre-registering as 16- and 17-year-olds, which is permitted by current law, and repealing a state directive that high schools conduct voter registration drives in order to boost turnout among young voters.

Prohibiting some types of paid voter registration drives, which tend to register poor and minority citizens.

Dismantling three state public financing programs, including the landmark program that funded judicial elections.

Weakening disclosure requirements for outside spending groups.

Preventing counties from extending polling hours in the event of long lines or other extraordinary circumstances and making it more difficult for them to accommodate elderly or disabled voters with satellite polling sites at nursing homes, for instance.

Emphasis original.

Go to the link to read more of what Melissa thinks about this crap… you can probably already surmise what her conclusion to the post said.

Ross Douchehat published a biggie yesterday, I have two links that tackle his latest opinion piece on abortion:

Your Handy Guide To Anti-Choice Concern Trolling – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Ross Douthat Abortion Texas – Cardinal Douthat’s Musings On Abortion -Charlie Pierce at Esquire

In the New York Times this week there was a very interesting article about generations climbing up the income ladder: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

There are interactive maps and other goodies at that link, please be sure to check it out.  One phrase that is used a lot in the article is “income mobility”

…earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty. Other researchers, including the political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” have previously argued that social connections play an important role in a community’s success. Income mobility has become one of the hottest topics in economics, as both liberals and conservatives have grown worried about diminished opportunities following more than a decade of disappointing economic growth. After years of focusing more on inequality at a moment in time, economists have more recently turned their attention to people’s paths over their lifetimes.

I will leave any commentary on this article to Dr. Dak.

Since I’ve got a link here from the New York Times, you will find this next read intriguing: New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman | The Jane Dough

When the New York Times broke the absolutely shocking news on Sunday that many college-aged women like to have sex, some ladies called for an end to “women’s stories” that do nothing but foster “worry” about women in society. However, before completely dismissing this genre of journalism, we need to realize that these “women’s stories” are some of the only stories where women are actually being quoted and being heard.

In January and February of this year, University of Nevada Las Vegas students Alexi Layton and Rochelle Richards, under the guidance of their professor Alicia Shepard, scoured the 325 front-page stories published in the New York Times and found that the paper quoted male sources 3.4 times more frequently than female ones. Even in areas that are perceived to be more female-dominated — style, arts, education, health, etc. — male sources vastly outnumbered female ones.

Perhaps this phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising since men continue to dominate newsrooms and the Times is no exception. Of the 325 stories published on the front page, 214 were written by men (65.8 percent); their stories mentioned four times as many male sources as female sources. Female reporters perpetuated the bias as well; of the 96 stories written by women, men were quoted twice as frequently as women. So, as Amanda Hess at Slate pointed out, “hiring more female reporters could help lift the Times’ sourcing ratio from terrible to just bad.”

Yup, more at the Jane Dough link…go read it.

Hey, down here in Georgia a Democrat has announce she is running for Saxby’s seat:

Michelle Nunn Enters 2014 Georgia Senate Race

How Michelle Nunn puts pressure on Georgia Republicans

Gee, I can only hope she has a chance…but I know how strong the redneck vote is, I mean how strong the red GOP vote is within the state.

Now for a few links that are more along the lines of special interest, or just plain non-newsy reads to start your day off right.

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

If the Spanish had succeeded, Robin A. Beck Jr., a University of Michigan archaeologist on the discovery team, suggested, “Everything south of the Mason-Dixon line might have become part of Latin America.” But they failed.

Researchers had known from Spanish documents about the two expeditions led by Juan Pardo from the Atlantic coast from 1566 to 1568. A vast interior seemed open for the taking. This was almost 20 years before the failure of the English at Sir Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony” near the North Carolina coast or their later successes in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607 and at Plymouth Rock in 1620 — the “beginnings” emphasized in the standard colonial history taught in American schools.

One of Pardo’s first acts of possession, in early 1567, was building Fort San Juan in an Indian town almost 300 miles in the interior, near what is known today as the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the first and largest of six forts the expedition erected on a trail blazed through North and South Carolina and across the mountains into eastern Tennessee. At times Pardo was following in the footsteps of Hernando de Soto in the 1540s.

Pardo was ordered to establish a road to the silver mines in Mexico…without maps or a true understanding of the New World’s geography, the belief at the time was that the Appalachians where the same mountain range that ran through central Mexico.

After years of searching, archaeologists led by Dr. Beck, Christopher B. Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and David G. Moore of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., came upon what they described in interviews as clear evidence of the fort’s defensive moat and other telling remains of Fort San Juan. The discovery in late June was made five miles north of Morganton, N.C., at a site long assumed to be the location of an Indian settlement known as Joara, where military artifacts and burned remains of Spanish-built huts were also found.

While excavating a ceremonial Indian mound at the site, the archaeologists encountered different colored soil beneath the surface. Part of the fort’s defensive moat had been cut through the southern side of the mound. Dr. Beck said that further excavations and magnetometer subsurface readings showed that the moat appeared to extend more than 70 to 100 feet and measured nearly 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, in a configuration “typical of European moats going back to the Romans.”

In the area north of Banjoville, up into North Carolina they have found Spanish conquistador artifacts along the rivers, like helmets and various swords and axes and other weapons that have been dated back to de Soto. Also, some of the Indian tribes mention the Spanish visitors in their stories. Furthermore, many of the Spaniards settled in the area with the Cherokee Indians as well.  There’s some interesting history in these mountains, that’s for dang sure!

This next link is to a picture gallery: Broken dreams: Walker Evans’s 1930s Americana

New York molls, Negro churches and the barbershop home of Perfecto Hair Restorer … this enchanting series of photographs shows us 1930s America through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans as he travelled from Alabama to New York City, documenting life during the Great Depression. His images earned him the first solo exhibition ever to be held at MoMA in New York. Now, 75 years later, they’re back on public view, in Walker Evans American Photographs, which runs until 26 January 2014

Walker Evans: 42nd Street, New York, 1929

42nd Street, New York, 1929

And finally, what would all this history stuff be without a bit of Medieval nuggets thrown in?

Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

Clare Downham

The March in the Islands of the Medieval West, Brill Academic Publishers, November 16 (2012)

Abstract

The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds anenduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures. One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change whichaffected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often portrayed as late converts, with christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision.

Ninth-century literature from Ireland expresses fear of vikings as slave-raiders and heathens. It was not however until the eleventh century that vikings ‘burst onto the Irish literary stage’ by which time (as Máire Ní Mhaonaigh has demonstrated) astereotype of heathen, plundering vikings had evolved which did not always reflectcontemporary realities. It is in accounts from the eleventh century and later that we get colourful descriptions of heathen activity linked with ninth-century vikings, for example the satirical account of the ‘druid’ Ormr who is hit by a stone and foretells his imminent death, or Auða, the wife of the viking leader Þórgísl, who was said to issue prophecies while seated on the altar at Clonmacnoise. These accounts were on the one hand meant to be entertaining, but on the other they were intended as negative publicity for contemporary viking groups which helped to justify their subjection to Irish kings.

To read the paper in full click the link here: The March in the Islands of the Medieval West

On the subject of Moons: The Night the Moon exploded and other Lunar tales from the Middle Ages

medieval moon

The Moon in the Nuremberg Chronicles

When writing about the events of the the year 1178 in his Chronicle, Gervase of Canterbury interrupts his account of kings and wars to relate a very unusual occurrence in the night sky:

This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvellous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance.

This account has puzzled modern astronomers – some suggest that the monks saw an asteroid crashing into the moon, while others believe that it was a meteorite that had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just the right spot – between the monks and the moon – making the observers believe that what they saw was happening on the moon.

For the monks who saw this phenomenon this event would be very worrying indeed. For medieval people the moon was an ever-present, fascinating and mysterious object. The moon not only brought light to the night sky, but it also marked the passage of time and could determine the personality of man or woman.

That particular blog post is full of cool things and drawings go read it because you will be amazed at some of the advanced discoveries during a time known as the “dark ages.”

Ooof, this post turned out longer than I had planned. Hope you have a great day, stay cool and please let us know what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Late Night Open Thread: 3-D for Good, Science Fair Super Inventor, and It’s Weiner Weather

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Good Evening!

Three quick links for you tonight.

Another story about those 3-D printers: Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life

A baby’s life has been saved by using a device to help him breathe created by a 3D printer. The operation, carried out in the US, follows the development of a controversial 3D-printed gun openly available online.

It is hoped that further objects with a more positive purpose, treating other medical conditions, could also be developed through the 3D printing process – structures that are being developed for use in ear, nose and throat surgery.

This is wonderful news.

The groundbreaking intervention was made after the parents of Kaiba Gionfriddo begged doctors to help their six-week-old son, who collapsed and turned blue when the family was at a restaurant. In the following months he stopped breathing regularly and had to be resuscitated on a daily basis.

Kaiba had been born with the main arteries to his heart and lungs misplaced; they were squeezing his windpipe, causing a rare condition called tracheobronchomalacia. Most affected children grow out of it by the age of three, but in severe cases it can cause death.

Doctors working with Professor Scott Hollister, a biomedical engineer at the University of Michigan, used a 3D printer to make a device like a vacuum cleaner hose which was implanted into Kaiba’s chest to act as splint to hold his airway open.

Three weeks after the operation in February 2012 – which has only now been reported, in The New England Journal of Medicine – he was taken off the ventilator and has not had trouble breathing since.

In other science news, there was a huge invention that came out of this years national science fair.  18-year-old’s breakthrough invention can recharge phones in seconds

18-year-old scientist Eesha Khare. Photo: Courtesy, Intel.

An 18-year-old science student has made an astonishing breakthrough that will enable mobile phones and other batteries to be charged within seconds rather than the hours it takes today’s devices to power back up.

Saratoga, Calif. resident Eesha Khare made the breakthrough by creating a small supercapacitor that can fit inside a cell phone battery and enable ultra-fast electricity transfer and storage, delivering a full charge in 20-30 seconds instead of several hours.

The nano-tech device Khare created can supposedly withstand up to 100,000 charges, a 100-fold increase over current technology, and it’s flexible enough to be used in clothing or displays on any non-flat surface.

It could also one day be used in car batteries and charging stations not unlike those used by the Tesla Model S, which includes “supercharger” technology that promises to charge vehicles in 30 minutes or less.

“I’m in a daze,” Khare told CBS San Francisco after being honored among the three winners at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix over the weekend. “I can’t believe this happened.”

Over 1,600 finalists from around the world competed in the science fair for a $75,000 scholarship grand prize awarded by Intel.

Seriously, Eesha Khare is a fabulous role model for girls in school rooms everywhere!

il_fullxfull.195213526And finally, y’all have heard…the Weiner is back:

Ringside Seat: First Sanford, Now Weiner?

Will Anthony Weiner be able to pull a Mark Sanford in the upcoming New York City mayoral race?

He certainly hopes so. If you remember from a few weeks ago, Mark Sanford was the disgraced former South Carolina governor who rocketed back to political relevance after winning a special election for a vacant House seat. The voters of the South Carolina first district weren’t happy with his affair, but were willing to forgive him (it also helped that he was a Republican running in a conservative area).

Anthony Weiner didn’t cheat on his wife, but he did send pictures of his crotch to random women on the internet, which is almost more embarrassing. He was forced to resign from office, and entered a long period of seclusion. Today, however, he officially announced his bid for mayor of New York City. It’s entirely possible he’ll be successful, and follow Sanford’s example.

Then again, there are important differences between the two men and their situations.

Mark Sanford was running to represent the district he left to become governor. He had history with voters, and in turn, many still held him in high esteem. Indeed, when Sanford was eventually forced out of office, he held an approval rating in the mid–50s. Affair or no affair, South Carolinians still liked him.

Weiner has never been mayor of New York, and doesn’t have political experience in large areas of the city. It’s a bad combination of traits: Infamous but unable to claim goodwill.

Again, none of this is to say Weiner can’t win. Stranger things have happened in politics, after all. But it’s fair to say it would be a surprise.

tumblr_lp89j60IRI1qjln5to1_500‘I hope I get a second chance’: Anthony Weiner launches bid to become NYC mayor – NBC Politics

Anthony Weiner, whose career as a congressman collapsed after he posted sexually suggestive pictures of himself on Twitter, has announced that he’s running for mayor of New York City.

After months of speculation, the former congressman announced via a YouTube video that he will be running for mayor of New York City, nearly two years after he resigned from Congress over a sexting scandal. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

“I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down. But I’ve also learned some tough lessons,” the Democrat said in a video posted on his website late on Tuesday.

“I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life,” he added. “I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”

The video, which features his son and wife Huma Abedin, an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, focused on his middle-class roots in Brooklyn.

Yup…okay then.

This is an open thread…


Saturday Reads

It’s Saturday morning and our country is once again saddened by a horrible, violent crime. The shootings in Colorado yesterday were tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that mass shootings have become almost commonplace in our country, but none of our so-called leaders respond by actually taking action to prevent more such massacres in the future.

I feel heartsick not only for all of the victims and their families but also for the family of the perpetrator. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it would be to lose a family member so senselessly or to have a family member commit such a horrific crime. If only this time politicians would stand up to the bloodthirsty NRA, but I know it’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to link to any more articles about yesterday’s murders. I just can’t stand to read about it right now. So let’s see what else is happening.

Chris Cilizza asks “Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Michele Bachmann.”

Anytime you are compared to former senator Joseph McCarthy — he of “red scare” infamy — it’s probably not very good for your political career.

That’s the situation Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) found herself in this past week after it came to light that she and four other House Republicans had sent letters to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, asking them to look into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has tentacles within the U.S. government.

Bachmann focused her attack on Human Abedin, long-time friend and aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. She also slimed fellow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann asserted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann’s spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as “the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.”

It’s simply beyond me why anyone would support this woman or vote for her, yet she is one of the top fund-raisers in the House of Representatives.

I watched some of the British Open today. Please don’t get mad at me. I can’t help rooting for Tiger Woods. I find it so hard to resist a comeback story, and Woods has slowly been recovering his pre-scandal form.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — From the time he arrived in northwest England on Sunday, it was clear Tiger Woods had a game plan for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

He had fond memories of the place, having been low amateur here in 1996 and calling it one of his favorite courses on the Open Championship rota. He enjoyed the challenge of avoiding the numerous pitfalls of the old links. Without saying so, he appeared determined to put an end to his four-year major championship victory drought.

Part of the plan was to stay out of the numerous bunkers that give Royal Lytham its teeth. The wind was down and the course was soft, but getting into those hazards is, well, hazardous.

It obviously wasn’t part of the plan when Woods’ approach to the par-4 18th found a greenside bunker. His caddie, Joe LaCava, said the shot was one of his best of the day. But the wind played a factor, the ball drifted into the sand and … uh-oh.

Then Woods holed the shot for a birdie.

A thunderous roar echoed around the 18th green as Woods gave a fist pump. He had made his statement at the Open Championship.

The tournament continues through the weekend, and I’ll probably watch a little more of it. The scenery relaxes me if nothing else.

I’ll just give you two Mitt Romney links this morning. First, this column by conservative political handicapper Charlie Cook from early in the week: Red Alert.

The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs….if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.

Second, check out this slideshow of photos of “Sad Mitt Romney” at Mother Jones. In number 8, he looks like he’s about to cry–maybe because of mean bully Obama’s attacks on his “success.”

Sorry–I threw in another link there, but you don’t have to click on it.

Here’s a knee-slapper from Raw Story: Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

At The Nation, Ari Melber reports:

A new campaign calling for “a woman moderator” for the presidential debates has drawn over 115,000 supporters online, through the social action website Change.org, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking notice. Janet Brown, the commission’s executive director, told The Nation she knew of the petition’s popularity and her colleagues “welcome” the input “regarding moderator selection.”

The petition, which was started by three high school students in New Jersey, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegeland and Elena Tsemberis, casts the paucity of female moderators as an issue of equality. “We were shocked to find out that it has been twenty years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate,” the petition notes, in reference to the 1992 debate led by ABC News’s Carole Simpson. The students started the effort in conjunction with their civics class, and it is now “the largest elections-related petition” on Change.org, according to Michael Jones, the site’s deputy campaign director. A related effort on UltraViolet.org, a new organizing platform for women’s rights, has drawn another 50,000 supporters.

Now that is something I’d like to see–as long as the moderator isn’t Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.

I’m sure you’ve heard that George Zimmerman has “gone rogue” again. He has again set up his on website talking to the media and generally appears to be ignoring his attorney’s advice. You’ll recall that he did that with his previous attorneys and they resigned from his case in a nationally televised news conference. On JJ’s Thursday night post, Northwestrain linked to an interesting wordpress blog called the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog. It’s run by an attorney who has been commenting on the Trayvon Martin case. I found his latest post fascinating. He thinks Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, should resign.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I couldn’t agree more. I think O’Mara is destroying his reputation because he craves the media attention that goes along with this case. But Zimmerman is obviously a very sick man with almost no ability to control his impulses. O’Mara should cut and run.

Finally, have you heard that Elizabeth Warren may be asked to give the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention? Steve Kornacki writes:

Early in the week, NBC News and the New York Post reported that Chris Christie would be the Republicans’ featured speaker at their Tampa convention. Mitt Romney’s campaign has refused to confirm the report, though, and Christie himself was mum on the subject when questioned on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that an Obama campaign official had confirmed that Elizabeth Warren was a candidate to deliver the Democratic keynote speech in Charlotte.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be chosen, but Christie and Warren are unusually obvious and logical candidates for the slots. Both have exploded onto the national scene during the Obama presidency by articulating their parties’ basic message and values with more charisma and precision than anyone else – including, arguably, their parties’ nominees.

That would be quite a contrast!

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Thursday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Today I’m going to start out with some stupid politician stories. And I’ve got some about politicians from both legacy parties.

First up, Rick Perry. At this point, I’m convinced this Texas good ol’ boy is dumb as a post. After the debate last night Perry spoke to Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at Dartmouth College. Check this out:

“Our Founding Fathers never meant for Washington, D.C. to be the fount of all wisdom,” the candidate explained. “As a matter of fact they were very much afraid if that because they’d just had this experience with this far-away government that had centralized thought process and planning and what have you, and then it was actually the reason that we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown if you will.”

The Houston Press published a few of the Twitter responses to Perry’s moronic gaffe. Here are a few examples:

@drgrist Why else did Daniel Boone fight alongside George Patton if not free America from health insurance mandates? #perryhistory

@ ObsoleteDogma Ronald Reagan told Peter the Great to “tear down this wall”… and put it up on the Mexican border #perryhistory

@ FenrisDesigns In 1576, Teddy Roosevelt signed the Magna Carta, effectively inventing bald eagles. #PerryHistory

@ cheetapizza #NathanHale had but one life to give against General #CarlosSantana at #TheAlamo.” #PerryHistory

Dakinikat has been highlighting the nutty Republican candidates over the past few day. She mentioned this recently, but I just have to do it again. Texas is moving toward offering a license plate with the Confederate flag on it. What will Perry do? Probably something stupid.

Texas’ Department of Motor Vehicles will soon vote — or perhaps table — a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate that features the Confederate flag. Proceeds will go to that group to help maintain grave stones and monuments. But the group also has a dark side: though they claim to be dedicated solely to history, a faction have recently become more aligned with extremist celebration of the Confederate States, crossing well over in secessionist and racist territory.

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called on Perry to repudiate the license plate in last night’s debate. So far Perry hasn’t done so.

Salon’s Justin Elliott reported earlier this year that Perry has “warm relations” with confederate groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that once described him as a member, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. And in 2000, Perry went against the NAACP by defending two Confederate flag plaques on the state’s Supreme Court building.

“I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques, and memorials from public property. I also believe that communities should decide whether statues or other memorials are appropriate for their community,” he wrote at the time. The plaques, however, were ultimately removed.

The license plates differ slightly in that they explicitly benefit a specific organization, just like the Confederate plates they’ve championed in Mississippi and other states. The Mississippi plate, you’ll remember, honored late KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Herman Cain called Perry “insensitive.” I’d use a stronger word.

Yesterday Michele Bachmann displayed her ignorance of what really happens to poor people in America when she responded to a question from a toothless man in New Hampshire.

At a campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday, Bachmann fielded a thoughtful question from a man who asked about the future of Social Security and Medicare….”We have uncertainty right now,” Bachmann told him, launching into a wide-ranging answer that mostly focused on how Barack Obama will personally walk into hospitals and old folks’ homes and throw people out windows.

Turns out, this guy’s got enough uncertainty already: He’s losing his teeth. Bachmann’s policy answer: Maybe he should go to… a church? Or, oh! Better idea: Sit on the street corner and beg for change.

“We have charitable organizations and there’s universities who are willing to take care of people who are indigent,” she told him, lovingly. “If you’re indigent, there are programs set up for the indigent. But don’t destroy the finest health care system in the world to have socialized medicine.”

Now let’s look at some stupid Democrats. A Democratic Assemblywoman in California became concerned about young people attending raves after a young girl died of an overdose of Ecstasy.

A California assemblywoman on a quest to end raves was surprised to find that electronic dance music could not be outlawed. Democratic Assemblywoman Fiona Ma tried to ban the music after a 15-year-old girl died at The Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, apparently from an ecstasy overdose.

“We found out later on that, constitutionally, you can not ban a type of music,” she told Reason.TV.

Where do they find these people? The last one is sad as well as stupid. Dakinikat sent me this article from the Daily Mail about Anthony Wiener.

Anthony Weiner accused his Muslim parents-in-law of being ‘backwards thinking’ and never accepting him because of his Jewish background, it was revealed today.

Newly released messages from the disgraced former congressman’s text conversations, obtained exclusively by MailOnline, show how Weiner had explicit exchanges with women comparing them to his wife.

OMG, what an a$$hole! I’m not going to quote anymore from that story, so as not to make anyone sick.

In other news, Anita Hill has written a book, so she’s making the media rounds. She gave an extended interview to NPR

On Oct. 11, 1991, Anita Hill told the Senate Judiciary Committee that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her.

Hill’s testimony was part of a second round of confirmation hearings to appoint Thomas to the court. He was ultimately confirmed by both the committee and the Senate, and has held the post for the past 20 years.

As for Hill, she has spent the past 20 years mostly out of the limelight, focusing on her academic work as a professor of social policy and law at Brandeis University. She says the tens of thousands of letters she has received since the hearings inspired her to write her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

“They’ve inspired me at times when I really did not feel very good about the subject of equality,” she tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “They’ve inspired me to keep pushing and to keep working and to keep really being myself.”

Listen to the whole interview at the link. There’s good article about Hill at the San Francisco Chronicle–first published by Bloomberg. And here is an NPR story by Nina Totenberg about Clarence Thomas’s 20 years on the Supreme Court. We can thank Joe Biden for that.

Eric Cantor has called for a floor vote on the “Let Women Die” Act of 2011, AKA HR 358. According to Care 2,

The deceptively-titled “Protect Life Act” will allow hospitals that receive federal funds to turn away a woman seeking an abortion in all circumstances, even if the procedure is necessary to save her life.

Under current law, any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If that hospital can’t provide that service, including a life-saving abortion, it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

But under the bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that would require termination.

Because women’s lives aren’t human lives, you see.

Jonathan Schell has an article in The Nation that I highly recommend: Cruel America. Schell considers some of the horrifying things we’ve seen in the Republican Debates so far–cheers for the notion of letting a man die if he doesn’t have health insurance, a governor of Texas who sleeps just fine after learning that he executed an innocent man, the lack of concern over the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia–and argues that America is devolving into cruel society.

There have been many signs recently that the United States has been traveling down a steepening path of cruelty. It’s hard to say why such a thing is occurring, but it seems to have to do with a steadily growing faith in force as the solution to almost any problem, whether at home or abroad. Enthusiasm for killing is an unmistakable symptom of cruelty. It also appeared after the killing of Osama bin Laden, which touched off raucous celebrations around the country. It is one thing to believe in the unfortunate necessity of killing someone, another to revel in it. This is especially disturbing when it is not only government officials but ordinary people who engage in the effusions.

In any descent into barbarism, one can make out two stages. First, the evils are inaugurated—tested, as it were. Second, the reaction comes—either indignation and rejection or else acceptance, even delight. The choice can indicate the difference between a country that is restoring decency and one that is sinking into a nightmare. It was a dark day for the United States when the Bush administration secretly ordered the torture of terrorism suspects. On that day, the civilization of the United States dropped down a notch. But it sank a notch lower when, the facts of the crimes having become known, former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney publicly embraced their wrongdoing, as they have done most recently on their respective book tours. To the impunity they already enjoyed, they added brazenness, as if challenging society to respond or else enter into tacit complicity with the abuses.

And still there was little reaction. For in a further downward drop, President Obama, even as he ordered an end to torture, decided against imposing any legal accountability on the miscreants, and in fact shunned any accountability whatsoever. He did not even seek, say, some equivalent of the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa after the end of apartheid.

There’s more, please read it all if you can. In most of the stories in today’s reads, there is a thread of cruelty. The cruelty of ignoring racism, poverty, the inability of people to care for their health. The cruelty of men to women–the hatred that must be in the hearts of these Congressmen who vote to kill women rather than allow them to have an abortion; the repressed anger that leads a man to hurt his wife and future child by throwing away his career for a few fleeting moments of sexual arousal.

Schell is right. We are becoming a cruel and degraded culture. How can we rescue our country from the haters? I wish I knew.

So what are you reading and blogging about today?