Saturday Reads

000d3235I still can’t believe we celebrate a holiday that basically recognizes the start of the mass slaughter of indigenous Americans. Does any one still believe that some dead European “discovered” a continent teeming with existing civilizations?   Many Americans and states are deciding if we should celebrate mass murder and occupation in the name of “discovery.”  But then again, I still can’t imagine why we let sports teams use stereotypes and caricatures as mascots still.

About four miles from the world’s largest Christopher Columbus parade in midtown Manhattan on Monday, hundreds of Native Americans and their supporters will hold a sunrise prayer circle to honor ancestors who were slain or driven from their land.

The ceremony will begin the final day of a weekend “powwow” on Randall’s Island in New York’s East River, an event that features traditional dancing, story-telling and art.

The Redhawk Native American Arts Council’s powwow is both a celebration of Native American culture and an unmistakable counterpoint to the parade, which many detractors say honors a man who symbolizes centuries of oppression of aboriginal people by Europeans.

Organizers hope to call attention to issues of social and economic injustice that have dogged Native Americans since Christopher Columbus led his path-finding expedition to the “New World” in 1492.

The powwow has been held for the past 20 years but never on Columbus Day. It is part of a drive by Native Americans and their supporters throughout the country, who are trying to rebrand Columbus Day as a holiday that honors indigenous people, rather than their European conquerors. Their efforts have been successful in several U.S. cities this year.

“The fact that America would honor this man is preposterous,” said Cliff Matias, lead organizer of the powwow and a lifelong Brooklyn resident who claims blood ties with Latin America’s Taino and Kichwa nations. “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”

But for many Italian Americans, who take pride in the explorer’s Italian roots, the holiday is a celebration of their heritage and role in building America. Many of them are among the strongest supporters of keeping the traditional holiday alive.

Berkeley, California, was the first city to drop Columbus Day, replacing it in 1992 with Indigenous Peoples Day. The trend has gradually picked up steam across the country.

Last year, Minneapolis and Seattle became the first major U.S. cities to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

This month, Portland, Oregon, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bexar County, Texas, decided to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with the new holiday. Oklahoma City is set for a vote on a similar proposal later this month.

So, this is going to be an odd little post since it’s Saturday and I’m still nervous that my computer will go bonkers on me.  I’ve never liked Gore Vidal and I’ve really never liked a kiss and tell all but you may find this Native_American_Indian_STOCK12_by_Lady_Timeless_STOCK_largeinteresting.  Vidal is opening up about a lot of his life including this narrative about meeting and doing Jack Kerouac.

“What did you and Jack do?” Allen Ginsberg asked Gore Vidal one cold January night in 1994.

“Well, I fucked him,” Vidal was pleased to reply. On the night of August 23, 1953, the two men of letters had banged one out in a Chelsea Hotel room following a Greenwich Village bar crawl. Kerouac published a fictionalized account of the assignation in The Subterraneans but, aside from a morning-after moment of “horrible recognition,” he left out the sex. Vidal was annoyed, and said so:

I challenged Jack. “Why did you, the tell-it-all-like-it-is writer, tell everything about that evening with Burroughs and me and then go leave out what happened when we went to bed?”

“I forgot,” he said. The once startlingly clear blue eyes were now bloodshot.

Palimpsest, the first of Gore Vidal’s two memoirs, fills in the lacuna with a detailed record of the evening’s events. It began with William S. Burroughs. Kerouac and Vidal had met before, and in a 1952 letter to Kerouac, Burroughs expressed interest in meeting the author of The Judgment of Paris:

Is Gore Vidal queer or not? Judging from the picture of him that adorns his latest opus I would be interested to make his acquaintance. Always glad to meet a literary gent in any case, and if the man of letters is young and pretty and possibly available my interest understandably increases.

imagesWe see so much violence today.  Yesterday, there were at least two more shootings on college campuses.  It’s good to remind ourselves that violence comes from anger, not mental illness since so many pro-gun fetishists want to blame everything but the guns and the anger.   We are a country filled with very angry people.

In the wake of a string of horrific mass shootings by people who in many cases had emotional problems, it has become fashionable to blame mental illness for violent crimes. It has even been suggested that these crimes justify not only banning people with a history of mental illness from buying weapons but also arming those without such diagnoses so that they may protect themselves from the dangerous mentally ill. This fundamentally
misrepresents where the danger lies.

Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.

In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, the reference book used by mental health professionals to assign diagnoses of mental illness, does very little to address anger. The one relevant diagnosis is intermittent explosive disorder, a disorder of anger management. People with IED tend to come from backgrounds in which they have been exposed to patterns of IED behavior, often from parents whose own anger is out of control. But the DSM does not provide a diagnostic category helpful for explaining how someone can, with careful advance planning, come to enter an elementary school, nursing home, theater, or government facility and indiscriminately begin to kill.

0da93ce18f0d4951d92d7bcc21ae9cbeWe came to know the conspiracy that was the Tobacco companies’ concealment of the link between illness and cigarette smoking.  We now find out that Exxon’s done similar studies and found connections between fossil fuels and climate change.  Like Big Tobacco, Exxon has concealed its findings.

The same thing has happened with climate change, as Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization, has been reporting in a series of articles based on internal documents from Exxon Mobil dating from the 1970s and interviews with former company scientists and employees.

Had Exxon been upfront at the time about the dangers of the greenhouse gases we were spewing into the atmosphere, we might have begun decades ago to develop a less carbon-intensive energy path to avert the worst impacts of a changing climate. Amazingly, politicians are still debating the reality of this threat, thanks in no small part to industry disinformation.

Government and academic scientists alerted policy makers to the potential threat of human-driven climate change in the 1960s and ’70s, but at that time climate change was still a prediction. By the late 1980s it had become an observed fact.

But Exxon was sending a different message, even though its own evidence contradicted its public claim that the science was highly uncertain and no one really knew whether the climate was changing or, if it was changing, what was causing it.

Exxon (which became Exxon Mobil in 1999) was a leader in these campaigns of confusion. In 1989, the company helped to create the Global Climate Coalition to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change and prevent the United States from signing on to the international Kyoto Protocol to control greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition disbanded in 2002, but the disinformation continued. Journalists and scientists have identified more than 30 different organizations funded by the company that have worked to undermine the scientific message and prevent policy action to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Too bad that our Congress is so divided between people that seek to govern and people that seek to overthrow our form of government to tackle the problems and issues head on.

So, that’s a little something from me.  What interesting things have you found today out there on the web?


Wednesday Reads: Power Outage Quickie and Mitt the Twit, Take Three

Good Morning,

I completely forgot that I had a post to write this morning, and then we had a huge storm here in Banjoville, and the power went out. So this post will be a quick one.

Tennessee is getting quite a reputation these days. Kelly Keisling, Tennessee Legislator, Mass Emailed Obama ‘Staged Assassination’ Rumor

A Republican member of the Tennessee state legislature emailed constituents Tuesday morning with a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening.

Rep. Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of “martial law” and delay the election. Among the events hypothesized in the email is a staged assassination attempt on the president that would lead to civil unrest in urban areas and martial law.

Ugh…surprise his source is not Michele Bachmann…

Keisling appears to have forwarded a more widely circulated email from Joe Angione, a Florida-based conservative blogger. Angione prefaces the rumor by saying it has not been confirmed but likewise notes it has not been denied. Angione also writes that people need to work to prevent the rumor from becoming reality.

The conspiracy theory started with an article written by Doug Hammon and posted on CanadaFreePress.com, which he said arose from conversations he had with an informant within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Constitution Party of Florida posted the same Angione story on their website this week. Party chairman Mark Pilling wrote a note saying that he believes some sort of unrest will occur this year.

Geez.

And just when you think Romney can’t flip any more, he writes an op/ed for the National Review: Culture Does Matter – By Mitt Romney – The Corner – National Review Online

TPM takes a look at it here: Take Three: Mitt Romney Now Says He Stands By Palestinian ‘Culture’ Comments | TPM2012

On Sunday, Mitt Romney boldly declared that Israel’s economic superiority over the Palestinians was due to its culture. On Tuesday morning, he dismissed any notion that he had even discussed Palestinian culture. On Tuesday night, Romney reversed himself yet again, in an op-ed entitled “Culture Does Matter.”

“During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it,” Romney wrote in the National Review. “In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy. But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”

In an interview earlier the very same day with FOX News, Romney told interviewer Carl Cameron that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy” and that he “certainly [doesn’t] intend to address that during my campaign.”

That interview appeared to be directly at odds with Romney’s original speech, in which he directly compared the per capita GDP of Israel and the Palestinian territories and attributed Israel’s comparative strength to “culture” and the “hand of providence.” It also directly contradicts the first paragraph of his National Review op-ed, in which he explicitly says he was comparing the two economies and cultures.

I think this is the kind of cultural differences Romney is making:  Cagle Post » Rich Culture of Romney

Rich Culture of Romney © Adam Zyglis,The Buffalo News,mitt, romney, culture, dressage, horse, olympics, culture, israel, palistine, racism, wealthy, 1, 99, percent, rich, wealthy, gaffes, overseas

Or was Romney talking about this kind of cultural differences:  Jon Stewart Mocks Romney Campaign For Gaffes In Poland And Israel | Mediaite

He observed that Romney faced “trouble in England for answering questions [and] trouble in Poland for ignoring questions,” and prayed that the third country Romney visited was not a place where people are easily “prone to complaining.” Naturally, it was Israel, and Stewart’s hopes were dashed once again.

Stewart sat with baited breath, wondering how Romney would mess up in Israel, and while at first he was relieved that Romney was overly complimentary of the Israeli people in his speech, he then brought up the controversy over Romney’s remarks about the Palestinians that did not go over well. As Stewart observed:

“Romney appears to be saying that the Palestinians are purely the architects of their own poverty, or, if you prefer to look at the converse, that Jews are culturally some money-making motherfuckers. Either way…”

Video at the link…

Updates on the DC fetal pain crap….I mean proposed bill. House Fails to Pass D.C. 20-Week Abortion Ban | RH Reality Check

And about that PLUB law in Arizona? Goodbye, Trimesters: How The Arizona Court Ruling May Turn Roe On Its Head | RH Reality Check

They are both long links so please go and read them in full.

Meanwhile: House GOP Tax Plan Raises Taxes On 10 Times As Many People As Democratic Proposal | ThinkProgress

Senate Republicans last week proposed a plan that would raise taxes on more than 20 million Americans, while maintaining the high-end Bush tax cuts. Letting those tax cuts on income in excess of $250,000 expire would affect just two million wealthy taxpayers, by comparison.

Now, House Republicans have adopted the same plan, and the effect is the same: roughly 24 million middle- and lower-class Americans will see their taxes raised so that roughly two million of the richest taxpayers can maintain a tax cut, as this chart from the Center for American Progress’ Seth Hanlon and Sarah Ayres illustrate:

More nifty graphs at that link…it shows us who are the ones that will be getting hit with these increases…

Even worse, more than a third of families with children — a total of 18.6 million households, including 9.2 million single parents — would see a tax increase, according to Hanlon and Ayres’ analysis:

According to the analysis, roughly 11 million American families would lose some or all of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a tax break on college tuition payments, at an average cost of $1,100 each. About 12 million would lose part or all of the Child Tax Credit, costing them an average of $800, and about 6 million would lose all or part of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which saves each recipient an average of $500.

One thing I find interesting is this(Oh, it is a good one, you betcha!): Dishonest Fox Chart: Bush Tax Cut Edition | Blog | Media Matters for America

Fox Business used a graphic with a badly distorted scale to exaggerate the effect that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would have on the rich.

Here’s how Fox Business’ Cavuto presented a return to the Clinton-era tax rate of 39.6 percent on the top income bracket, from the Bush-era rate of 35 percent:

Here’s what that increase of 4.6 percentage points looks like on a more realistic scale:

Fox has a lot of trouble making charts that are accurate and fair, having aired misleading graphics on gas taxes and statistics about unemployment, among other subjects.

Heh…heh…heh. I quoted the whole post there, because I had to. Look at it! Look at it!

And what about those Voter ID laws? ugh…Pa. Top Election Official Disputes Negative Impact of New Voter ID Law « CBS Philly

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth was on the witness stand today, during day five of the court hearing on Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law.

And her testimony just added to the confusion over exactly how many voters need ID.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele is the top state official in charge of implementing the voter ID.  But when she took the stand she was cagey, even making jokes in some instances in her response to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

At one point, when lawyers asked her about the details of the voter ID law, Aichele responded, “I don’t know what the law says.”

I can show you what it means…after this continuation of the story:

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Gersch (of Arnold and Porter) says the secretary is not the only one confused about what the law requires.

“The law is very technical — that’s another problem with it,” he tells KYW Newsraadio.   “Earlier in the trial we had testimony from lawyers who are advocates for poor people and homeless people trying to get identification, and those lawyers said they didn’t understand all apects of the law!”

When lawyers questioned Aichele today about the number of  Pennsylvanians who need ID, Aichele was adamant that 99 percent of voters had valid ID.

When plaintiffs’ attorneys cited earlier Department of State testimony that the number is likely inaccurate, Aichele said simply, “I disagree.”

She later admitted that the state does not know the real number of voters who need ID.

Voter ID laws = Voter Suppression – Truthdig

And one more goodbye, this time to Writer Gore Vidal, 86, has died – latimes.com

Gore Vidal, the iconoclastic writer, savvy analyst and imperious gadfly on the national conscience, has died. He was 86.

Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said nephew Burr Steers.

Vidal was a literary juggernaut who wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature — once described as “elegantly sustained demolition derbies” — both delighted and inflamed and in 1993 earned him a National Book Award for his massive “United States Essays, 1952-1992.”

[…]

He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.

When he wasn’t writing, he was popping up in movies, playing himself in “Fellini’s Roma,” a sinister plotter in sci-fi thriller “Gattaca” and a U.S. senator in “Bob Roberts.” In other spare moments, he made two entertaining but unsuccessful forays into politics, running for the Senate from California and Congress in New York, and established himself as a master of talk-show punditry who demolished intellectual rivals like Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley with acidic one-liners.

“Style,” Vidal once said, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, he was an emperor of style, sophisticated and cantankerous in his prophesies of America’s fate and refusal to let others define him.

Dakinikat put up a post in tribute of Vidal late last night. Goodbye Mr. Vidal.

That was a whirlwind of a post…woosh.

So, what are you all reading and thinking about this first day of August!


Good Bye Mr. Vidal!

“Gore Vidal dies; imperious gadfly and prolific, graceful writer was 86”

Gore Vidal, 86, a celebrated writer, cultural gadfly and occasional political candidate, died of pneumonia Tuesday at his Hollywood Hills home, according to a nephew. Known for his urbanity and wit — “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little” — Vidal’s literary career spanned more than 60 years, and he once said that he hoped to be remembered as “the person who wrote the best sentences of his time.”

He was an astonishingly versatile man of letters and nearly the last major writer of the modern era to have served in World War II. Having resolved at age 20 to live by his pen, Vidal produced plays for television and Broadway, including the classic political drama “The Best Man”; helped script such movies as “Ben-Hur,” the 1959 epic starring Charlton Heston; and gained notoriety for the campy novel “Myra Breckinridge,” about a transsexual film enthusiast.

Vidal also won plaudits from scholars, critics and ordinary readers for historical novels such as the best-selling “Julian,” “Burr” and “Lincoln,” and English critic Jonathan Keates called him “the 20th century’s finest essayist.” “United States,” which gathers Vidal’s essays on art, politics and himself, received the 1993 National Book Award. In print or on television — he was a frequent talk-show guest — the worldly Vidal provoked controversy with his laissez-faire attitude toward every sort of sexuality, his well-reasoned disgust with American imperialism and his sophisticated cynicism about love, religion, patriotism and other sacred cows.

The Atlantic had a conversation with Gore Vidal three years ago.

You  said earlier this month that you now wish you had supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries instead of Barack Obama. You said that she would make a better president.

Well, I was in a thoughtful mood.

Do you really wish you had supported Mrs. Clinton?

She would have been a wonderful president. As for my support for Obama, remember that I was brought up in Washington. It was an all-black city when I was a kid. And I’ve always been very pro-African-American – or whatever phrase we now use. I was curious to see what would happen when their time came. I was delighted when Obama appeared on the scene. But now it seems as though our original objection to him – that experience mattered – was well-founded.

Barack Obama’s books seemed to persuade many people to support him. Have you read them?

No. Does one ever read a politician’s books?

Well, Obama actually wrote them himself.

I’m sure he did. He’s highly educated – and rather better than a country like this deserves. Put that in red letters.

The President is having some difficulty getting his health care program through.

Well, if I were he, I would just give up. He should say to the country, “The Republicans will not allow these things to come to a vote without a filibuster. We can’t get anything through. So, good luck. Take two aspirin – and you’ll all die of the next epidemic.”

I first developed  deep admiration for him when he took on Bill Buckley and Norman Mailer back in the day.  He took on Dubya.  Do listen to the interview up top in the video.  It’s time worth spent.


I just learned way more than I ever wanted to know about Michelle Bachmann

The first time I ever saw Michelle Bachmann was when, as a brand new Congressperson from Minnesota, she hugged and kissed George W. Bush after the State of the Union Address. She was so affectionate toward him that I almost wondered why the Secret Service guys didn’t pull her off him. Here’s a you tube clip in which she explains the incident.

The reason I was reading up on Bachmann is that I was struck by the story at TPM today about Bachmann’s claim that she used to be a liberal Democrat, but she suddenly became an extreme right wing Republican after reading Gore Vidal’s novel Burr. Here’s the transcript of a Bachmann appearance in Michigan in which she recounts the story of her abrupt conversion.

Michigan is a tough state, but I do believe that Democrats, independents, Republicans, all make up fair-minded, reasonable people. I say that because I grew up in a Democrat state, and I have to share a little secret with you: I was a Democrat when I grew up. Because in Minnesota, they stamp that on your birth certificate! You know that, that’s how it works.

I didn’t realize until I went off to college one day — this is the honest to God truth — I was going off to college, and I was reading this snotty novel. It was written by Gore Vidal, and I was maybe like a junior in college, or — yeah, I think was maybe a junior in college. I was reading this snotty novel, and he was going after our Founders. And he was mocking them. And he was making fun out of them.

I was a reasonable, fair-minded Democrat. And another secret you need to know: My husband and I met in college. We worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. It’s true, it’s true. This is like a 12-step meeting here today, you know that. Because I am here to admit to you, I’m a Minnesotan who had “DFL” – that’s what we call Democrats in our state — stamped on my birth certificate, worked for Jimmy Carter. The first time I ever went to Washington, DC, I went to dance at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball! It gets worse!

Until I was reading this snotty novel called ‘Burr,’ by Gore Vidal, and read how he mocked our Founding Fathers. And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, ‘You know what? What he’s writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend — just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country — I knew that that was not representative of my country.

And at that point I put the book down and I laughed. I was riding a train. I looked out the window and I said, ‘You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don’t think I’m a Democrat.’

And from that moment on, I recognized that it was the Republican Party, and conservatives in particular, who really got America — who we are, what we stand for, and are unashamed about the values that the Founders lived and died and shed their blood and their treasure for.

Good Grief! I can see why someone might think Gore Vidal is “snotty” (did she mean “snooty” or maybe “snobby”?) but he isn’t any more so than, say, William F. Buckley was.

At Salon’s War Room, Alex Pareene writes:

In my perhaps unrepresentative experience, Vidal’s historical fiction — especially “Burr” and “Lincoln” — are the only things Vidal ever wrote that conservatives like. (I mean, thank god Michele didn’t pick up “Myra Breckenridge.”) But those are the conservatives who, I guess, are adult enough to read a mostly historically accurate account of the Revolution in which the Founders are portrayed as recognizably human and not become offended that the book is not a literary adaption of the Schoolhouse Rock classic “No More Kings.”

OMG, what would have become of Bachmann if she had read Myra Breckenridge! I hate to even think about it.

Anyway, it turns out that Bachmann has been telling her silly conversion story for years. Pareene dug up several examples. The funniest one is an interview with George Will.

Bachmann, an authentic representative of the Republican base, had quite enough on her plate before politics. She and Marcus, a clinical psychologist, were raising their children — they had four then; they have five now — and, as foster parents, were raising some other people’s children, 23 of them, a few teenagers at a time.

Born in Iowa but a Minnesotan by age 12, Bachmann acquired what she calls “her family’s Hubert Humphrey knee-jerk liberalism.” She and her husband danced at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Shortly thereafter, however, she was riding on a train and reading Gore Vidal’s novel “Burr,” which is suffused with that author’s jaundiced view of America. “I set the book down on my lap, looked out the window and thought: ‘That’s not the America I know.’ ” She volunteered for Reagan in 1980.

Bachmann is married to a clinical psychologist? Wow, I’m going to have to take some time to digest that.

Oh wait, I just looked at his academic credentials:

Dr. Marcus Bachmann, president of Bachmann & Associates, has been a clinical therapist in the Twin Cities for more than 18 years. Marcus is a popular conference speaker with practical insights, biblical principles, and humor interwoven in his messages.

I believe my call is to minister to the needs of people in a practical, caring and sensitive way.

Dr. Bachmann received his Masters degree in education/counseling from Regent University located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He received his Doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Union Graduate Institute located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Are those places even accredited?