Lazy Saturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Maybe it’s just me, but I think today must be the slowest news day yet in 2014. I’ve gathered a hodge-podge of reads for you, some that look back over the past year and some current news stories that I found interesting or humorous. So here goes . . .

Looking back, I think the biggest story of this year has been the many events that have revealed how racist the United States still is nearly a century-and-a-half after the end of the Civil War and more than a half century after the Civil Rights Movement.

In the news yesterday: Driver Destroys Mike Brown Memorial, Community Rebuilds By Morning. From Think Progress:

A memorial set up in the middle of Canfield Drive where teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in August was partially destroyed Christmas evening when a car drove through it. Neighbors and friends of Brown quickly came together to clean up the damage, rebuild the site, and call for support on social media….

Activists on the ground also reacted angrily to the Ferguson Police Department’s public relations officer, who told the Washington Post, “I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” and called Brown’s memorial “a pile of trash in the middle of the street.”

Since Brown’s death, the memorial has been a key gathering place for protests and prayers, and a receiving station for those that poured in from across the country to pay their respects and demonstrate against police brutality. Supporters also had to rebuild the memorial in September after it burned to the ground.

Also from Think Progress, photos of the some of the people who were killed by police in 2014.

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As you can see, most of them have black or brown skin.

Sadly, we know Brown and Garner were just one [sic] of many people who died at the hands of police this year. But a dearth of national data on fatalities caused by police makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact number of deaths. One site put the total at 1,039.

What we do know is that police-related deaths follow certain patterns. A 2012 study found that about half of those killed by the police each year are mentally ill, a problem that the Supreme Court will consider 2015. Young black men are also 21 times more likely to be killed by cops than young white men, according to one ProPublica analysis of the data we have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also compiled data which shows that people of color are most likely to be killed by cops overall. In short, people who belong to marginalized communities are at a higher risk of being shot than those who are not.

Go to the link to see a table showing which groups are most likely to be shot by police.

Mother Jones has released its yearly list of top long reads of 2014. First on the list is The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men, by Chris Mooney. It’s about the unconscious prejudices that plague all of us. A brief excerpt:

On the one hand, overt expressions of prejudice have grown markedly less common than they were in the Archie Bunker era. We elected, and reelected, a black president. In many parts of the country, hardly anyone bats an eye at interracial relationships. Most people do not consider racial hostility acceptable. That’s why it was so shocking when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games—and why those comments led the NBA to ban Sterling for life. And yet, the killings of Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, and so many others remind us that we are far from a prejudice-free society.

Science offers an explanation for this paradox—albeit a very uncomfortable one. An impressive body of psychological research suggests that the men who killed Brown and Martin need not have been conscious, overt racists to do what they did (though they may have been). The same goes for the crowds that flock to support the shooter each time these tragedies become public, or the birthers whose racially tinged conspiracy theories paint President Obama as a usurper. These people who voice mind-boggling opinions while swearing they’re not racist at all—they make sense to science, because the paradigm for understanding prejudice has evolved. There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek ….

We’re not born with racial prejudices. We may never even have been “taught” them. Rather, explains Nosek, prejudice draws on “many of the same tools that help our minds figure out what’s good and what’s bad.” In evolutionary terms, it’s efficient to quickly classify a grizzly bear as “dangerous.” The trouble comes when the brain uses similar processes to form negative views about groups of people.

But here’s the good news: Research suggests that once we understand the psychological pathways that lead to prejudice, we just might be able to train our brains to go in the opposite direction.

Read much more at the second link above. Go to the previous link to see the 13 other stories on MoJo’s list of the magazine’s best 2014 long reads.

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Also from Mother Jones, a list of “the stupidest anti-science bullshit of 2014.” Check it out at the link.

Another “worst of” list from The Daily Beast: 2014: Revenge of the Creationists, by Carl W. Giberson.

Science denialism is alive in the United States and 2014 was yet another blockbuster year for preposterous claims from America’s flakerrati.  To celebrate the year, here are the top 10 anti-science salvos of 2014.

1) America’s leading science denialist is Ken Ham, head of the Answers in Genesis organization that built the infamous $30 million Creation Museum in Kentucky. He also put up a billboard in Times Square to raise funds for an even more ambitious Noah’s Ark Theme Park. Ham’s wacky ideas went primetime in February when he debated Bill Nye. An estimated three million viewers watched Ham claim that the earth is 10,000 years old, the Big Bang never happened, and Darwinian evolution is a hoax. His greatest howler, however—and my top anti-science salvo of 2014—would have to be his wholesale dismissal of the entire scientific enterprise as an atheistic missionary effort: “Science has been hijacked by secularists,” he claimed, who seek to indoctrinate us with “the religion of naturalism.”

2) Second only to Answers in Genesis, the Seattle based Discovery Institute continued its well-funded assault on science, most visibly through Stephen Meyer’s barnstorming tour promoting his book Darwin’s Doubt. I was a part of this tour, debating Meyer in Richmond, Virginia in April. Meyer’s bestselling book is yet another articulate repackaging of the venerable but discredited “god of the gaps” argument that goes like this: Here is something so cleverly designed that nature could not do on her own; but God could. So God must have designed this. Meyer insists, however, that his argument is not “god of the gaps” since he says only that the anonymous designer was “a designing intelligence—a conscious rational agency or a mind—of some kind” and not the familiar God of the monotheistic religious traditions. For his tireless assault on evolutionary biology and downsizing the deity to fit within science, I give Meyer second place.

Go over to TDB to read the rest of the list.

Donald Sterling and Ray Rice

Donald Sterling and Ray Rice

Also in this vein, Talking Points Memo offers a list of worst sports stories: From Donald Sterling To Ray Rice: 2014 Brought Out The Worst In Pro Sports.

The past year brought out the worst in professional sports players, owners, and fans alike, from domestic violence scandals in the NFL to the removal of racist team executives in the NBA.

Of course, shockingly bad behavior wasn’t limited to major league football and basketball alone. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, was just sentenced to probation for drunken driving. FIFA was enough of a mess to inspire a 13-minute Jon Oliver segment ahead of the World Cup this summer.

But even the most casual sports observer understands what’s at the center of the Washington Redskins naming controversy, or can form an opinion on whether Ray Rice should be allowed to play football again. The NFL frequently surfaced in the headlines this year for all the wrong reasons, and its domination on this list suggests the league needs to get its act together on a couple fronts.

Check out the list at the TPM link above.

gone-with-the-wind

Recently, I posted some links about the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone With The Wind and the racist attitudes it portrayed. Today Newsweek published a piece about the efforts to curtail the racism in the movie before it was filmed and released: Fixing Gone With The Wind’s ‘Negro Problem’

In the spring of 1938, Rabbi Robert Jacobs of Hoboken wrote to Rabbi Barnett Brickner, chairman of the Social Justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, “Soon the David O. Selznick Studios of Hollywood will begin production of the play ‘Gone With The Wind.’ The book, a thrilling romance of the South, was shot through with an anti-Negro prejudice, and while it undoubtedly furnished almost half a million people in this country with many glowing hours of entertainment, it also in a measure aroused whatever anti-Negro antipathy was latent in them.”

Rabbi Brickner in turn wrote to Selznick. “In view of the situation,” he wrote, “I am taking the liberty of suggesting that you exercise the greatest care in the treatment of this theme in the production of the picture. Surely, at this time you would want to do nothing that might tend even in the slightest way to arouse anti-racial feeling. I feel confident that you will use extreme caution in the matter.”

Brickner wrote a similar letter to Walter White, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. White also wrote to Selznick, suggesting Selznick “employ in an advisory capacity a person, preferably a Negro, who is qualified to check on possible errors of fact or interpretation.”

In his reply to White, Selznick wrote, “I hasten to assure you that as a member of a race that is suffering very keenly from persecution these days, I am most sensitive to the feelings of minority peoples.” He added, “It is definitely our intention to engage a Negro of high standing to watch the entire treatment of the Negroes, the casting of the actors for these roles, the dialect that they use, etcetera, throughout the picture.

Read the rest at the link.

At Daily Kos, David Akadjian offered a list of 21 Ayn Rand Christmas Cards–a satire, of course, but Akadjian learned that Rand actually did send out Christmas cards, despite her atheism. Here are some of her odes to a selfish Christmas.

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I’ll wrap this post up with some current news stories:

USA Today: Thousands gather to honor slain officer in New York.

The Guardian: North Korea calls Obama a ‘monkey’ as it blames US for internet shutdown.

USA Today: North Korea suffers another Internet shutdown.

Seattle PI: Woman who bared breasts in Vatican square is freed.

Washington Post: Baby gorilla shunned by other gorillas to switch zoos.

Washington Post: Pakistani forces kill alleged organizer of school massacre.

The Telegraph: More than 160,000 evacuated in Malaysia’s worst ever floods.

Special for New Englanders from the Boston Globe: Will The Rest Of Winter Have Lower Than Average Snowfall?

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a stupendous Saturday!


Early Morning Open Thread: Are We Living in Atlas Shrugged?

Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, and some other guy

Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, and some other guy

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s time in the glow of media attention isn’t quite over yet. He’s still making an ass of himself without realizing it. Via Mother Jones, The Republican Senator who was humiliated by Hillary Clinton during last week’s Benghazi hearings gave an interview on January 16 to The Atlas Society, an organization who raison d’etre is the celebration of the odious Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged.

Johnson is such a huge fan of the novel that he and a friend (Tea Party leader and campaign fundraiser Ben Ganther) bought a giant statue of Atlas holding up the world and today it sits outside his friend’s contracting business in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. Engraved on the statue’s base are the words “Fight to be free.”

atlas johnson

Johnson told interviewer Laurie Rice that he “absolutely” sees “parallels” between the U.S. today and the plot of Atlas Shrugged.

It’s a real concern. As I talk to business owners that maybe started their businesses in the ’70s and ’80s, they tell me Ron, there’s no way– with today’s regulations, today’s levels of taxation– there’s no way I could start my business today. And I’m certainly concerned a lot of the generation of baby boomers that have had successful businesses, they just might shrug. With all the regulations, with the increasing taxes, they may say I’m going to give it up.

According to Johnson, we’re headed for disaster because of the national debt and because of the New Deal programs that have been in effect since the 1930s with no ill effects, but are suddenly going to bring the country down. Does this man know that Ayn Rand took both Social Security and Medicare?

I see two tipping points– the financial tipping point, which really is, talking about the debt crisis, the point where world creditors look at the United States and say I’m not going to loan you any more money, not at that rate. And interest rates start increasing, and then our interest costs explode, crowds out all their spending. That’s the financial tipping point.

The other one I’m talking about is the cultural tipping point, where we really have developed this culture of entitlement dependency that is not what America’s all about. I mean, America– and that’s, of course, what Atlas Shrugged is about– is individuals aspiring to build things. To make their life, and as a result the world, a better place. And when we shift to a culture where people are just saying I’m happy to sit back and let the government provide me with things, that becomes a very dangerous point in time for this country.

Apparently Johnson knows better than Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who isn’t at all worried about rising interest rates or a sudden lack of interest in Treasury bonds. But Johnson’s biggest fear is…wait for it….

OBAMACARE!

I think Americans are a little bit like a bunch of frogs in that pot of water and the water’s being brought up to a boil. And I think we’re losing freedoms across the board. The reason I ran really was in reaction to the passage of the health care law, which I think is really the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.

During the original oral arguments at the Supreme Court, I was the only Senator that attended all four days of those arguments. And prior to attending those, I was being interviewed by somebody and I had this concept that we’re all suffering collectively from the Stockholm Syndrome. That’s where people who have been kidnapped are grateful to their captors when they just show them a little bit of mercy. And collectively, we just don’t understand the freedoms we’re really losing.

So we’re going to the Supreme Court, begging them please, please allow us this one last shred of freedom. Allow us the freedom to decide what product we’re going to purchase or not purchase. And unfortunately for Americans, for our freedoms, we were denied that right.

But Johnson assures us he’ll never give up fighting for our freedom to live without health insurance.

I guess when you take a look at the book Atlas Shrugged, I think most people always like to identify with the main character– that would be John Galt. I guess I identify with Hank Rearden, the fella that just refused until the very end to give up. And I guess I’d like to think of myself more as a Hank Rearden– I’m not going to give up.

America is something far, far too precious in the span of human history. I’ll never give up hope on America. I hope everybody that’s watching this will never give up hope.

Watch the whole interview if you dare!

Via Dave Wiegel, in 2010 when he first ran for office, Johnson discussed his love for Atlas Shrugged with WaPo columnist George Will.

Before what he calls “the jaw-dropping” events of the past 19 months — TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler’s creditors, Obamacare, etc. — the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” his “foundational book” — and now is ablaze, in an understated, Upper Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like.

As for the novel that helped form his bizarre world view, Johnson told Will,

What Samuel Johnson said of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” — “None ever wished it longer than it is” — some readers have said of “Atlas Shrugged.” Not Johnson, who thinks it is “too short” at 1,088 pages.

Noting that Massachusetts “is requiring insurance companies to write polices at a loss,” he says, “We’re living it,” referring to the novel’s dystopian world in which society’s producers are weighed down by parasitic non-producers.

He probably takes the Bible literally too. Are there any Republicans left who don’t get all their ideas from fiction and folklore?

I’ll be back later with a midmorning reads post. Have a great morning and a fabulous Tuesday!


Wednesday Reads: It’s a Sin

Good Morning

I’ve no clue what is going on in the world, it feels like I have checked out but still stuck in the same place. It is like I can see things going on around me, but I just don’t give a damn about it.

So for this morning’s thread, I have some links that I have saved along the way. Some of them are from a few weeks ago…anyway…

This first article is over my head…my son has tried to explain dark matter to me and I still don’t get it. Mathematicians offer unified theory of dark matter, dark energy, altering Einstein field equations

A pair of mathematicians — one from Indiana University and the other from Sichuan University in China — have proposed a unified theory of dark matter and dark energy that alters Einstein’s equations describing the fundamentals of gravity.

Sichuan University professor Tian Ma, left, and IU Department of Mathematics professor Shouhong Wang have developed a unified theory of dark matter and dark energy they believe could change our view of energy, gravitational interactions and the structure and formation of the universe.

I will just let you read that article on your own.

Now for something I can comprehend, Pre-Raphaelites as costume drama: Victorians in all their lurid glory

Dante Gabriel Rosetti's Lady Lilith, in Tate Britain's show Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s Lady Lilith, part of Tate Britain’s exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, which runs from 12 September-13 January. Photograph: Guy Bell for the Guardian

Tate Britain‘s new Pre-Raphaelites exhibition is a steam-punk triumph, a raw and rollicking resurrection of the attitudes, ideas and passions of our engineering, imperialist, industrialist, capitalist and novel-writing ancestors. The pistons are pounding, the steam is hissing, cigars are being lit and secret lives once more being concealed. The Victorians are back in town. This is as much a costume drama as a show, jam-packed with heroes and villains and innocent victims, holding up a lurid mirror to the age that built Britain.

These style of paintings have always fascinated me, maybe it is because there is something medieval about them?

Pre-Raphaelites: Ophelia by John Everett Millais Ophelia by John Everett Millais. Photograph: Corbis

The Pre-Raphaelites were painting as Karl Marx was writing his revolutionary works in the Reading Room of the British Museum. Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto in 1848, the same year the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed. The young artists who joined this radical band saw through the hypocrisy of the factory owners who bought their paintings. In Isabella, painted in 1848-49, John Everett Millais illustrates a medieval Italian tale about the daughter of a rich merchant family who loved a penniless young clerk. Isabella’s brothers murder her unsuitable lover. Millais suggests these brothers have incestuous designs on their sister: one of them points a white-stockinged leg phallically at Isabella. The foregrounded brothers are creepy in the extreme, but the most villainous faces in Millais’ painting belong to a row of respectable bourgeois types who share their dinner table: they radiate the cold propriety of Poor Law guardians. This is a painting about secrets and lies, and Millais makes it a psychodrama full of resonance with the Victorian period.

Beautiful. Read the entire article at the link above, they have more visual images too…real nice ones.

Monkeys in castles and lettrines of whimsy
Both this image and the one up top come from BibliOdyssey.com.

Now, I usually love to read articles from HNN History News Network, but this has to be one subject of study I would never have thought people would take seriously. Just the title for you, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: The Best is Yet to Come | History News Network

Damn, I feel violated, like I need to take a shower, ugh…Ayn Rand Studies? Now that is fucked up.

Here are a couple of articles that are very important, they discuss the War on Women…well, take a look for yourself. And yes, I am quoting the whole thing.

A Question That Should Be Asked of Every Political Candidate | RH Reality Check

As the most extreme anti-choice advocates push to force all politicians to accept “no exceptions” as the default position when it comes to opposing abortions, it’s stories like these that serve as a reminder of how an all out ban would effect real people.

Especially young girls.

Via The News Tribune:

The girl is not yet in her teens. Police say her mother’s boyfriend, who had a history of violent crime, raped her. He was ultimately shot dead by deputies trying to arrest him. She was impregnated. She was 11.

It bears repeating. Eleven.

Forget for a moment a woman’s very personal right to choose, the spark for recent demonstrations at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Here is a question for those who seem to know what’s best for the rest of the world: Can reasonable people really believe there should be no choice, under any circumstance, even in what happened to this child?

It’s a yes or no question that should be asked of every politician.  Do you believe an 11 year old pregnant rape victim should be forced to give birth if she doesn’t want to?  Because this is what no exceptions would really look like

Ugh…I thought about posting that link on the Banjoville Topix form, just to see what kind of reaction it gets, but I am afraid to read the comments. I mean, I am already depressed about things as it is. But hey, at least there is some “good” news out of Idaho: Idaho Abortion Ruling States Pregnant Women Can’t Be Prosecuted For Having Abortions

An Idaho law that bans the use of medication to induce abortion cannot be used to prosecute a woman who took the pills to abort her pregnancy, a U.S. appeals court decided on Tuesday.

Bannock County prosecutors brought a case against Jennie Linn McCormack in 2011 after she used medication that she obtained online to induce her own abortion. McCormack, a single mother of three, claims that she could not find a licensed abortion provider in Southeastern Idaho, so she had to violate a state law that requires abortions to be performed at a hospital or medical clinic.

An Idaho federal judge dismissed the charges against McCormack in September 2011 on the grounds that the law cannot be enforced. McCormack then challenged the law itself, arguing that it imposes an undue burden on women’s access to abortion in Idaho.

I’ve got two more links for you, and I have to admit, they are a bit on the selfish side. One is about a medieval woman…The Curious Case of Mary Felton

…the interesting life of a 14th century English lady: Mary Felton was at one point or another during her complex life was married to Edmund Hemgrave, Thomas Breton, Geoffrey Worsley, and John Curson, consectively, though not always exclusively; she was also ‘sometime’ widow, mistress, divorcee, nun, apostate, and mother.

Mary (born circa 1356) was the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Felton, who was Knight of the Garter and a high ranking officer in Edward III’s armies in France. By the time she was six years old, Mary was betrothed to Edmund Hemgrave, but he died in 1374, leaving Mary as a child widow, but also with some property.

However, Mary did not stay single for long – within a few months she had clandestinely married Thomas Breton. However, this marriage does not seem to have lasted, as in 1376 she had married Geoffrey Worsley in a parish church. Meanwhile, Thomas Breton died in 1380 while fighting on the continent.

The marriage with Geoffrey did not last either, as in 1381 the Archdeacon of Chester granted Mary a divorce, and the the 25-year-old lady entered a Franciscan nunnery at Aldgate, London where she was strictly cloistered.

Over the next few years Geoffrey Worsley remarried, and Thomas Felton died. Although Mary was Thomas’ only heir, as a strictly cloistered nun who had taken a vow of poverty, she was unable to own property. Her mother, Joan, set up several trustees to manage the properties of Mary, with Makowski adding that Joan was eager to maximize the profits from these various estates.

In 1385 the situation changed dramatically, as Mary left Aldgate and made a bold bid to reclaim her secular status. When the crown issued an arrest warrant against Mary for being a runaway religious, she responded by claiming that she was not an apostate because never freely joined. Mary Felton stated that she was forced to divorce Geoffrey and enter the nunnery. She also complained that she was not receiving any profits from the properties being run by her mother.

This case would spend several years in the episcopal courts, and Mary received support from some relatives of Geoffrey Worsley – Geoffrey had died in 1385 but had an infant daughter who would have inherited his estate. By Mary making a claim that she had never truly divorced Geoffrey, this daughter would be declared illegitimate, which meant that Geoffrey’s other relatives would get his inheritance.

In 1392 the episcopal court decided the Mary was indeed a secular person. This allowed her to marry for a fourth time – now with John Curson, who happened to be one of the trustees appointment her mother. Mary never did get control of her properties herself – she died in 1398 and her mother outlived her. When Joan died a few years later, the property of Thomas Felton went to Mary and John’s legitimate son, also named John.

Elizabeth Makowski, a professor at Texas State University, found this to be a very interesting case of matrimonial intrigues and legal entanglements, showing how an individual used canon law to regain her secular status.

Click here to visit Professor Makowski’s webpage at Texas State University

And the other link is about this band I loved back in the day,  Pet Shop Boys: ‘We don’t think about the old stuff’

Pet Shop Boys
The band met in an electronics shop in London, 31 years ago

After 30 years in the limelight, the Pet Shop Boys are tackling an unusual subject for a pop album – ageing and death.

The Pet Shop Boys are sprawled at opposite ends of a sofa in a perfectly white room on the top floor of their record company’s London headquarters.

Neil Tennant, professor of pop and deadpan frontman is on the right, alert and well-groomed.

His partner in crime for the last 30 years, Chris Lowe, is on the left, slouched and sardonic in jeans and a sports T-shirt.

They are here, ostensibly, to discuss their 11th studio album, Elysium.

But, as is often the case with the polymath pop group, the conversation becomes a survey of the entire music scene.

Take a look at that article, you may be surprised at just how active the Pet Shop Boys are…I know I was.  There are many favorite tunes I could bring you now from these “boys” but here is one that sort of “goes” with the medieval theme of today’s post.

So, what’s going on with your sins lately?


Live Blog and Open Thread: Republican Convention, Day 2

Romney Ryan and Rand © David Fitzsimmons,The Arizona Star,Romney, Ryan, rand, Republicans, Election 2012

Oh, there is nothing like a Randian man to get your juices flowing, except for maybe a Randian Zombie. My question is this, if your average zombie considers brains the breakfast of champions, what the hell does an Ayn Rand zombie eat? Surely the grey matter of fellow Rand followers can’t provide the proper nutrition for a zombie of Ayn Rand’s caliber.

Perhaps that is why the Ryan zombie prefers the brains of the poor, old, and sick? Eureka, that must be the real motive behind the GOP Rand worshipers pro-life stance! The 99%, its whats for dinner.

Few Items of Note…

Hey, as I was reading through my RSS feeds I found some articles and links that I thought would be of interest to you. I still don’t think I can stomach the RNC tonight. I just don’t think I have the energy to process the hate…so if anyone is able to sit through the crapfest, please drop a comment or two.

From Glenn Greenwald: Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Yeah, he is on to something…read the entire post, I will just give you the final kick,

From “All the news that’s fit to print” to “please delete after you read” and cannot “go into detail because it is an intelligence matter”: that’s the gap between the New York Times’s marketed brand and its reality.

On another journalistic topic: Bit by Bit It Takes Shape: Media Evolution for the ‘Post-Truth’ Age – James Fallows – The Atlantic

Over the years, and recently in a few posts this month, I’ve mentioned signs that the mainstream press is adjusting to the realities of “post-truth politics.”

Everyone in the press is happiest, safest-feeling, and most comfortable when in the mode of he-said, she-said. “The president’s critics claim that he was born in Kenya; administration spokesmen deny the charge.” But when significant political players are willing to say things that flat are not true — and when they’re not slowed down by demonstrations of their claims’ falseness — then reporters who stick to he-said, she-said become accessories to deception. This is the problem the Atlantic’s James Bennet discussed in a dispatch from Tampa yesterday, concerning the Republicans’ false-but-endlessly-repeated claim that the Obama administration is coddling welfare recipients by dropping requirements that they work.

My grey matter can’t seem to process this post by Fallows. Maybe y’all can help me out?

Here are the rest of the links I have to share with you, in link dump fashion because I am feeling a little light headed, my blood sugar must be falling. Anyway, think of this as an open thread. After I feed my brain maybe I can tackle that convention down in Tampa…but I am not promising anything.

The 5 Weirdest Bits of the 2012 GOP Platform | Mother Jones

Democratic registration all but dries up since new Florida laws | jacksonville.com

Author Of South Carolina Voter ID Acknowledges Racist Emails

The Two American Flags – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

Bank of America hasn’t modified one mortgage since settlement | Suburban Guerrilla

The Short Sale Scam: Most Going to Non-Recourse States that Bar Deficiency Judgments | FDL News Desk

Federal judge to permanently lift Florida voter registration restrictions | The Raw Story

This is an open thread…muthafukkerz! Hee…hee…

Tonight at the RNC, Paul Ryan will be nominated and give his big speech.  The audience will also hear from Mike Huckabee and Condoleezza Rice.  Will Huck go off the reservation and defend Todd Akin?  Wouldn’t that be fun?


Evening Round-up: A bit of this Ayn that…

So Good Evening!

For the last four days, I have taken care of an OPM, other people’s munchkin. This boy is one of a few friends of my son that we have watched grow up before our eyes. So I’ve been busy with the extra “things” that go with having an extra teenager in the house…and it has made me think about some things.

Both his parents work, his mom works nights…his dad can’t find a job locally, so he works in construction with a crew that travels around the US, so he is gone for weeks at a time. On those days that his mom is working, if his grandma can’t come up to stay with him, he stays at a friend’s house. This week he is with me.

My thought is this. We help each other out…as caring individuals. Whether it is watching someones kid, taking another kid to school or practice, or even bringing someone dinner when things are rough. It is part of a decent way to live because…well, it is just unthinkable not to do it. We are not Jesus freaks or hypocritical Christian church goers. We are not perfect either, we have our problems and issues…but we are good people…and we don’t really talk about what we do for each other. It is just done.

I’ve seen a lot of crap (articles) lately about Ayn Rand and her selfish belief system. Folks running for office and asking for votes based on the attitude that helping others is against their principles and that people should live their lives with no support or assistance of others…at least the help and assistance that they feel the government, or their taxes, should not provide.  Oh, and of course they seem to take the benefits offered to them, without a thought about the ironic nature of accepting this support.

Yes, independence is one thing…but part of being a considerate human being is that element of helping or giving support to another human being. And even independent, strong and determined people need a hand sometimes, support and encouragement, or a lift into town.

I am completely disgusted with the beliefs and policies of these Randian men and women who seem to take being a selfish asshole to a deeper level in their heartless hearts.

Oops, I mean selfish hearts, because they only care about one thing, themselves.

Now just a few links:

For young immigrants who win deportation deferrals, what next? | McClatchy

Pawlenty Suggests That Soledad O’Brien Doesn’t Understand English | Video Cafe

Southern Poverty Law Center takes heat after D.C. shooting | The Raw Story

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Tuesday Reads: Learning about Paul Ryan

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading about Paul Ryan. There was so much information out there! I guess that’s what happens when you start rolling out a big news story late on Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Late Friday is the time that politicians generally use to release stories that they don’t want too many people to hear about. I have no idea why Romney chose that time, but it seems that it allowed writers to dig up lots of background over the weekend to publish on Monday. So I’m going to share some of the more interesting Ryan pieces I came across yesterday.

First, The New York Times had a lengthy puff piece: Conservative Star’s Small Town Roots. The best thing about this story was Charlie Pierce’s takedown of it: The Ryan Family’s History of Fakery

Still, the NYT article is worth reading to get the adoring media perspective on the mysteriously popular Ryan. The story reveals that Ryan and his wife are each quite wealthy through inheritance. Other than losing his father when he was in high school, which is tragic, Ryan seems never to have experienced a single setback along his education and career tracks.

Ryan studied under a conservative professor at Miami of Ohio–he paid for his college education with Social Security survivors’ benefits–and that professor pulled strings to get Ryan a political job. recommended Ryan for an internship with Wisconsin’s then Republican Senator Bob Kasten. Ryan has been sucking on the government teat ever since.

Mr. Ryan’s trickle-down economic theories were already in place, said Professor Rich Hart, who would help Mr. Ryan hone his political persona.

“I think Paul came to Miami University with these core conservative beliefs from an economic standpoint,” said Professor Hart, an outspoken libertarian who taught an intermediate macroeconomic theory course that Mr. Ryan took in his junior year. “He was reading Locke and Hayek, and I don’t know if he was reading Ayn Rand, but I had certainly read Ayn Rand, and I talked to him about it.”

The two would often meet outside class, not to talk about the course, Mr. Hart said, but to discuss political philosophy. “We had these discussions about the role of government. We both believed in the conservative view that government should be limited, because the most important thing is individual freedom, individual liberty, and along with that freedom goes individual responsibility.”

Professor Hart helped Ryan get a job working for Republican Senator Bob Kasten, and through Kasten Ryan met his “mentor,” Jack Kemp. They became close, and when Ryan ran for the House in 1998, Kemp campaigned for him. I’m sure Ryan worked hard, but he has certainly never had to worry about where his next meal was coming from. And where did the family money come from? Charlie Pierce found out via the Rude Pundit:

Where does the family dough come from? A construction company founded by Great Grandpa Ryan. The Rude Pundit went a’wandering through Googlestan, and what did he find? Among other great nuggets, this thing right here:

“The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later, was mostly Highway construction.”

IOW, Ryan’s multimillion dollar nest egg was built on taxpayer funds from We the People. So much for all that self-reliance Ryan is always touting.

There was another interesting tidbit in the NYT piece that Sam Stein wrote about at HuffPo. Here’s the relevant quote from the NYT:

Mr. Ryan is a strict supply-side budget expert and social conservative who counts fans across the Republican spectrum. He has been a driving force, if not always a visible one, in the party’s biggest fights with President Obama, including last year’s budget impasse that took the nation to the brink of default.

Mr. Ryan’s enormous influence was apparent last summer when Representative Eric Cantor, the second most powerful House Republican, told Mr. Obama during negotiations over an attempted bipartisan “grand bargain” that Mr. Ryan disliked its policy and was concerned that a deal would pave the way for Mr. Obama’s easy re-election, according to a Democrat and a Republican who were briefed on the conversation.

So did Ryan oppose a bipartisan deal for political reasons–fearing that it would help Obama? It’s an interesting question.

Here are a couple of interesting pieces on the Ryan plan for Medicare that I found helpful–both are relatively brief and informative.

Bloomberg: Ryan Plan To Redo Medicare With Private Choices Stirs Doubts

Forbes: Why Ryan’s Medicare Fantasy Doesn’t Merit Adult Conversation

I loved this piece at the Guardian by Giles Fraser about Ryan’s Ayn Rand obsession.

When I was a teenager, my American girlfriend at the time gave me Ayn Rand’s cult novel Atlas Shrugged to read. It changed her life, she said. It changed mine, too. She was not my girlfriend by the morning. It was the most unpleasant thing I’d ever had the misfortune to read.

As a work of literature, Atlas Shrugged is drivel, and not simply because it is so up itself with its own perceived radicalism; fundamentally, all propaganda is drivel, even if it is propaganda in a good cause. Rand’s cause was to celebrate what she called “the virtue of selfishness”, to denigrate the poor as scroungers and to celebrate the muscular individualism of the creative heroes of capitalism. Altruism, she contends, is “complete evil”. The question she poses: what would happen if all the bankers and captains of industry went on strike? What would happen if these Atlas-like gods, who hold up the world, decided one day to shrug and refuse to support everyone else? Then the world would be buggered, she contends. Atlas Shrugged is cheap pornography for the nastiest side of capitalism.

Fraser discusses the obvious clashes between Rand’s philosophy and Ryan’s Catholic faith.

By your deeds shall you know them. And Ryan’s deeds, and in particular his budget plan for slashing the role of the state, are pure Rand, as a group of Jesuits from Georgetown University have insisted: “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favourite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.” The US Catholic bishops’ conference, not well-known for its progressive politics, has said much the same.

It feels odd to be arguing that there ought to be more religion in US politics. In many ways, I’d prefer there to be a lot less. And certainly a lot less of the hard-right hogwash that borrows the wardrobe of Christianity but has no intention of being subject to its moral values. Jesus said nothing whatsoever about homosexuality or abortion. He said a great deal about poverty and our responsibility for the vulnerable. Which is why Paul Ryan is little more than Ayn Rand in Christian drag.

He also implies that Rand wouldn’t be too impressed with Ryan:

Ironically, he is a “second-hander” – Rand’s terminology for those who take their values, prêt-à-porter, from others. The trouble is that Christianity in the US has become so widely hijacked by the right that not enough people will actually notice.

Ayn Rand in Christian drag…I love it!

Just one more humorous tidbit on Ryan: In his speech on Saturday, Ryan used an aphorism that was very famous in the counterculture in the late 1960s.

Recalling words of advice offered by his late father, Mr. Ryan said, “I still remember a couple of things he would say that have really stuck with me. ‘Son, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.’ Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem, and Mitt Romney is the solution.”

That quote is famous for its use by Eldridge Cleaver in his book Soul On Ice. Cleaver was famous as one of the founders of the Black Panthers. From the NYT Campaign Stops blog:

With Cleaver’s name attached, the phrase appeared on banners, buttons and picket signs at demonstrations well into the 1970s, and was picked up by other radical leftist leaders.

It’s perhaps unlikely that Mr. Ryan’s father, a lawyer in Janesville, Wisc., was present at a political gathering in 1968 when the Black Panthers co-founder Bobby Seale, urging his followers to smash “the American Empire,” proclaimed:

Everyone falls into two categories. You are either part of the problem – or part of the solution. Being part of the solution means you’re willing to grab a shotgun and take to the barricades, killing if necessary. Being part of the problem means you’re on the other side of the shotgun. There is no in-between.

It turns out the turn of phrase may have originated with Charlie Rossner, a graphic designer for the VISTA program in 1967, but Cleaver and the Panthers made it famous.

I’m running out of time and space, and this has been all about Paul Ryan. Oh well…I guess I’ll go with that, and let you post other news in the comments. I’ll end with this short video of Ryan’s first solo appearance–at the Iowa State Fair. It didn’t go that well.

What are you reading and blogging about today?

UPDATE: This post has been updated to correct the assertion that Professor Rich Hart of Miami University (Ohio) “pulled strings” to get Paul Ryan a job with Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten.  Professor Hart explains in a comment that all he did was write a letter of recommendation to support Ryan’s application for an unpaid summer internship with Senator Kasten.  I had gotten the impression from The New York Times article that Professor Hart had been an important mentor who had been very instrumental in getting Ryan involved in politics.  I apologize for the misunderstanding.

 


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! It is just me, or is the news getting weirder with each passing day?

Last night Jerry Sandusky who, with a little help from his friends, has destroyed the reputation of a large university and created the worst scandal in sports history, appeared on the new NBC show Rock Center. Sandusky told Bob Costas he didn’t sexually abuse little boys–he just “horsed around” with them in the showers.

When asked by Costas, “Are you a pedophile,” Sandusky responded “No.”

Joe Paterno’s one time defensive coordinator was charged earlier this month with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys. He is currently free on a $100,000 bond and has denied any wrongdoing. The allegations date back to 1994, according to a grand jury report. A grand jury report detailed claims of alleged sexual encounters with young boys in Sandusky’s home, hotels and Penn State locker rooms.

“I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact,” said Sandusky.

When pressed by Costas about what Sandusky was willing to concede that he’d done was wrong, Sandusky said, “I shouldn’t have showered with those kids.”

He touched their legs? Talk about a non sequitur. Sandusky’s lawyer should have told him not to talk to the media.

NPR’s Morning Edition is running a three-part series on Ayn Rand’s influence on U.S. politics. The first episode was on yesterday. They reported on an interview that Mike Wallace did with Rand in 1959.

Wallace is in a chair, on a stark set, holding his notes and a cigarette. Across from him sits Rand, a native Russian, small and sharp and a little nervous. Wallace asks her to outline the idea she calls “objectivism.”

It is, she says, a system of morality “not based on faith” or emotion, “but on reason.”

Rand wholly rejected religion. She called it a weakness, even a parasite — one that convinces people their purpose is to work for the betterment of others. In fact, she says, for man, the truth is just the opposite.

“His highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness,” she says.

Wallace asks Rand about politics and about government programs and regulations that have improved many people’s lives.

“I feel that it is terrible that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster until and unless all those welfare state conceptions have been reversed and rejected,” Rand answers.

These programs are destroying individual liberties, Rand says, especially the freedom of producers, entrepreneurs, businessmen. The government has no right to take their property, she says….

“I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.”

I still don’t understand how Republicans can buy into Rand’s philosophy and then claim the right to control women’s lives based on their fundamentalist nonsensical religious beliefs. If you really think about it, what they’ve done is taken Rand’s gospel of selfishness and pretended that was Jesus’ message too.

Yesterday, President Obama went golfing with a friend who was recently caught in a prostitution sting.

“The president’s fourball at the Mamala Bay Golf Course includes his long-time friend Robert “Bobby” Titcomb who was arrested and plead no contest in May to soliciting a prostitute, Marvin Nicholson, and White House advance man Pete Selfridge,” the report read.

In April, Titcomb was arrested in Honolulu and charged with a misdemeanor for soliciting a prostitute after he approached an undercover police officer. Titcomb’s attorney, William Harrison, said at the time that Titcomb did not fully agree with the facts of the case, but plead no contest because he wanted to take responsibility.

He was fined $500 and the conviction was expunged from his record in October, following six months without further incident.

Obama and Titcomb have been friends since attending the Punahou School together in Honolulu, according to Hawaii News Now.

That should give the Republican candidates something to be outraged about in the next debate. Why are there so many of those debates, anyway?

King Abdullah II of Jordan has called on Syria’s President Bashar Assad to resign.

Syrian President Bashar Assad faced heightened economic and political pressures Monday, as Europe imposed a new round of financial sanctions and King Abdullah II of Jordan called on the embattled autocrat to step down.

Meanwhile, the Arab League, which on Saturday moved to suspend Syria because of its failure to implement a league-brokered peace deal, said it was preparing to send a delegation of up to 500 observers into Syria. Details were still being worked out with Damascus, the league’s secretary-general, Nabil Elaraby, told reporters in Cairo.

Syria has said it would welcome Arab League observers, but the Assad regime has remained defiant in the face of Arab demands that it halt violence against civilian protesters.

[….]

The Syrian uprising began in March near the Jordanian border in the southwestern provincial city of Dara. Opposition activists reported that at least 28 people were killed Monday in that area, some in clashes between armed rebels and security forces at the city’s northern entrance. The official government news agency said at least two law enforcement officers were killed and an unspecified number wounded in clashes with a “terrorist group” in the vicinity of Dara.

The opposition reported at least 50 killed nationwide Monday. The death toll could not be independently confirmed.

Herman Cain had a serious case of brain freeze yesterday when he was asked if he agreed with President Obama’s position on Libya. From the NY Daily News:

The GOP presidential hopeful looked hungry for a cheat sheet when the editorial board of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel asked him if he supported Obama’s backing of the revolution that toppled Moammar Khadafy.

“Okay … Libya,” Cain responded haltingly, according to a video of the interview.

He stared at the ceiling, fiddled with his blazer, blinked a bunch of times and pushed his water bottle away from him on the table.

Eleven seconds later, he spoke:

“President Obama supported the uprising, correct?” said the normally chatty former head of the Godfather’s Pizza chain.

“President Obama called for the removal of Khadafy — just wanted to make sure we are talking about the same thing,” he added, as if trying to goad his interviewers into confirming what he said was true.

More staring at the ceiling. “Nope, that’s a different one,” he blurted out, waving his hand, adjusting his chair and crossing his legs.

And so on. There’s lots more. Watch it:

What a dope!!

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?