Monday Reads: Farewell my Lovely!

795584d4afa6807e8967bfb2d7d1e515Good Morning and Happy Solstice!

It is a very gloomy Monday here in New Orleans.  It’s supposed to be 71  degrees Fahrenheit but I think the dampness has taken the warmth away.  I’m sitting at my desk in my thick and sloppy chenille sweater that I slept in last night.  It does double duty over sweats and flannel pajamas when it gets like this.  Yes, the word for it is bone-chilling cold.  Some times I’m glad for the breeze off the mighty Mississippi–blocks from my door–but it’s not July so I’m shivering while watching the big green leaves of my avocado tree flutter in the wind.  I’m most fortunate that Temple is an excellent hot water bottle because the cold, damp, and age are taking a toll on me. My fingers ache and don’t seem to want to type as fast as usual.

There are some interesting tids and bits in the morning news.   Lady Lindsey has given up on the Republican nomination having gained just about as much traction as pig on ice.  I’m actually going to miss him because he sounded reasonable and actually less of a war monger than the rest of the slate as impossible as that sounds!  All of us are very aware of the Lady’s love of the manly pursuit of war. Oh, and his last words were inkled to Hillary Clinton. Back to the quiet of your closet m’lady!!  You sashayed mightily across the stage of the kiddie debate.

Senator Lindsey Graham is ending his presidential campaign, he told CNN during an exclusive interview airing Monday.

“I’m going to suspend my campaign. I’m not going to suspend my desire to help the country,” the South Carolina senator said in a wide-ranging and candid discussion in which he acknowledged: “I’ve hit a wall here.”

He made the official announcement in an email to supporters and Youtube video posted Monday morning.

Graham is known for his quick wit and famous for his one-liners (just ask Princess Buttercup about his retort from the last debate), but he was sober, serious and emotional as he described his decision to leave the race just weeks before the voting begins.

One thing is clear: Graham still wants his voice heard on the direction his party is headed, especially with regard to the Middle East.

“Here’s what I predict. I think the nominee of our party is going to adopt my plan when it comes time to articulate how to destroy ISIL,” he said. “We’ve fallen short here, but the fight continues. To those who are doing the fighting, I want to be your voice. To those in the Republican Party who want to win, check my plan out. Hillary, if you get to be President, I’ll help you where I can. I hope you’re not. But if you are, I’ll be there to help you win a war we can’t afford to lose.”

One of the most frustrating things about the inability of life to accommodate women is your basic restroom visit.  Bathrooms are generally inadequate for women in all ways. They are too small and badly placed probably by design or male architectural ignorance.  I knew exactly why Hillary was a bit late to the 4ad9f9be1ec7cb42332e73c2163e124dstage during one of those breaks.  It had to be the shortness of time and the hassle of using a public restroom. I guess it was inevitable given the scout work Huma did prior to Saturday’s shindig. But, here we go women, I give you Pottygate.

The reason is one many women are familiar with: An unexpected line for the loo. While Clinton waited for the ladies’ room to clear out, time ticked down, and the debate organizers allowed the show to go on without her.

What viewers didn’t know was the sole women’s bathroom was a little further than the men’s room from the stage. And when the debate went to a long commercial break Clinton lost out to Lis Smith, the caffeine-guzzling deputy campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who beat her to the restroom. Smith declined to comment for the story.

A top Clinton staffer who was strategically posted outside the bathroom (presumably to avoid these kinds of situations) gave Smith a verbal OK to make a quick pit stop, according to one person familiar with the ladies’ line.

Meanwhile, we continue to see the fallout from Datagate.  Bernie Sanders has suspended two staffers.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign suspended two more staffers directly involved in the data breach that has roiled the party, a Sanders aide confirmed to POLITICO after the Democratic debate on Saturday night.

Pending an investigation, the two aides join data director Josh Uretsky in leaving the campaign following the revelation that they accessed and downloaded voter information from Hillary Clinton’s team during a technology glitch on Wednesday

9053f3971117e22887a97304a012cc20Sanders did apologize for the breach at the debate.  An independent investigation into the incident has been agreed to by both Clinton and Sanders.  The Clinton campaign is assessing the damage.

Clinton’s top strategist and pollster-in-chief Joel Benenson, who oversaw two successful Obama campaign operations that set records for maximizing core-voter turnout, says his staff is eagerly awaiting the results of a third-party audit into the hack of the Democratic National Committee-housed lists. The DNC said it is just beginning the process of securing an independent audit by a data security firm.

The Clinton campaign also wants to learn basic details of the narrative — like why, for instance, Sanders’ campaign manager didn’t tell his candidate when he learned of the breach last Wednesday; Sanders was only looped in a day later, after DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called him personally with the news. Weaver told POLITICO on Saturday he withheld the information from Sanders because he at first believed the breach was a staff-level concern that could be dealt with in-house. “My field director informed me,” he recalled. “I said, ‘let everyone know that no one is to do anything with the Clinton data.’ It was not clear immediately there was any problem on our side.”

On Saturday, it was still not clear to the Clinton campaign how much damage had been done. “I don’t think any of us will know until this audit is completed how serious this all is,” Benenson said after the debate at St. Anselm’s College — adding that the value of the information is less about the specific voters being targeted than hints about how Clinton’s campaign plans to deploy its resources.

“All of [the data] is extremely valuable, it is work produced by tens of thousands of volunteers. … it is part of a roadmap to how we are running and strategizing in our campaign and how we get to the totals we need to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, especially,” he said, his voice rising with exasperation.

I have a few other links for you today.  First, a new study shows the impact 27865bcf2633a32984c3f2b6c39ccf61of Poverty on intellectual development.  This should concern us given the number of US children living in poverty and their treatment by states like Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.

Whether intelligence is more the product of nature or nurture has long fascinated American social scientists and the general public alike. Typically the result is explained as some balance of genetics and environment, but since the early 1970s, researchers have noticed that this scale tends to shift dramatically across social classes. It’s as if nature and nurture play by different rules for rich and poor.

Generally speakingthiswork has found that genetic variance tends to explain the bulk of IQ scores for advantaged groups, whereas environmental variance plays a larger role for disadvantaged ones. (This line of research draws its results from comparative analyses of identical twins, who share a complete genetic makeup, and fraternal twins or siblings.) In other words, when it comes to intelligence, a comfortable upbringing seems to help nature reach its potential, but an impoverished one seems to interfere at every turn.

Still, other studies have failed to confirm these findings, enough so that scholars continue to wonder. But a strong new analysis published in the journalPsychological Science suggests that the role of genetics in intelligence indeed varies with socioeconomic status—at least in the United States. The data reveal no such pattern in other parts of the developed world, a finding the researchers attribute to “more uniform access” to social programs such as strong education and health care.

“The differences observed across nations might be explained by weaker social safety nets in the U.S. compared to Western Europe and Australia,” the psychologist Elliot Tucker-Drob of the University of Texas at Austin, the paper’s lead author, tells CityLab via email. “While this study did not investigate specific policies or services that might explain the differences … I think that it is fair to say that the causes of the difference are likely to be manifold.”

If that isn’t cause enough for concern, consider the impact of increased lead in the water in Flint, Michigan due to their wicked stupid Governor and his administration.  This has put nearly every child in the city in extreme danger.  Rachel Maddow has done some excellent shows on this disaster.  Here’s an in depth article from AJ.seasonal-reindeer-milking

In October, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the city of Flint would change its water source. This was in response to the discovery that temporarily pulling water from a local river produced high levels of lead in the water supply for Flint, an economically struggling community of 100,000 residents roughly an hour northwest of Detroit.

It was a crisis months in the making. Problems began as soon as officials decided in April 2014 to have Flint stop using Detroit’s water system and begin drawing water from the Flint River.

This was billed as a measure that would save millions of dollars. But residents almost immediately raised concerns about the discolored and smelly water that was flowing from their taps. Tests revealed high levels of chemicals that could cause liver or kidney problems, and some complained of losing hair and getting rashes after drinking the water.

In response to the growing backlash and the evidence that residents were drinking poisoned water, state and city officials sought to quell concerns, insisting the water was safe to drink and continually disputing local studies published this fall that showed lead levels sharply increased in the bloodstreams of Flint residents, including children. (Research suggests that lead can cause irreversible cognitive and developmental damage to children.)

But even as Snyder and other state officials relented, a question has continued to linger among activists and residents with children who could face life-altering circumstances as a result of lead poisoning: Who’s to blame for this mess?

At the October announcement that Flint would switch back to Detroit’s water system, Snyder made clear that he was interested solely in finding a solution to fix the problem, not in revisiting mistakes. Nonprofit donations, along with appropriations from the state and city, would pay for the $12 million transition back to Detroit’s system, he said.

22bdd54a94418c617213d38efa5d3c03The impact on Flint’s children is devastating and may be permanent.

Research published by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha in September showed levels of lead in children’s blood spiked at the same time as the water switch. Elevated blood lead levels are especially harmful for children, who can suffer stunted growth and irreversible brain damage. In October, after denying any problem, state officials acknowledged they failed to treat the water to adjust for its corrosiveness, and Snyder signed legislation switching Flint back to Detroit’s water.

The city has told residents it could take as long as six months for the water lead levels to decline. A Dec. 11 report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said the state found elevated blood lead in 39 of 1,836 Flint residents who had testing done since early October. Blood lead levels can decline in a matter of weeks after a person is exposed to lead.

This week, in response to Weaver’s new disaster declaration, a spokesman for Snyder referred HuffPost to previous statements from the governor’s office outlining actions already taken, including an Oct. 2 action plan and the Oct. 21 creation of a special task force to investigate what went wrong and recommend solutions.

Well, that’s it for me today.  Hope your week goes well and that you get to spend some relaxing and fun time with family and friends!  On to the celebration of Festivus for the rest of us!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?