Sunday Reads: Take Five or Ten

1645a3f7f36a125c0f6ee780a5615be6Good Morning

Hello…today is going to be my last post for the month of August, I am taking the next seven plus days off…and will be back in full force the first Wednesday in September. I’ve needed this break more than you can imagine, the news has been so depressing, the lack of function in DC is even worse. The War on Women gets me so pissed off, and the ridiculous actions of the right-wing goes beyond stupid and into the realm of fuckin’ idiotic dumbshit assholes . Uh, want a perfect example? How is this? From The Daily Banter: State Senator: High Minority Poverty Caused by Genetics, Fried Chicken, Porno | BobCesca.com

We see and hear so many awful things come from the mouths of Republicans, it’s easy to become desensitized and no longer blink when they say it, but this from Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) is impressively bad.

According to her, black and Hispanic people suffer from higher rates of poverty because of their genetics, fried chicken, and porno.

Audio from KDVR

MARBLE: When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve gotta say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you, I mean I love it and everybody loves it. The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables. And you go down there and they’re much thinner than when they come up here. they change their diet. I’ve read studies on that. They become Americanized. Down the street near five-points there used to an old cafe there called Type-2 Chicken and I wanted to eat there for years because I knew it was just going to be the best ever.

You know these things aren’t good for you. And it’s really funny because there’s so many attributing factors as to why these graphs look the way they do. And I think when we look at things we have to take into a lot of attributing factors that one can’t be helped like genetics and the others that can be worked around, maybe the addictions. Certainly some people have addictive personalities. Addictions come in all different forms. You have alcoholics, rageoholics, drug addicts. You have people who are addicted, they say, to porn.

Holy shit.

You got that right!

Poor diet does not lead to poverty, poverty leads to poor diet. And poverty is not caused by genetics or pornography. It’s caused by social apathy and ignorance from people like Senator Vicki Marble who are elected to serve the public interest.

Marble also went on to blame bad parenting and government regulations as reasons why black and Hispanic communities suffer from higher rates of poverty. Because she only had a limited amount of time to spout every stereotype and trope swirling around in her head before being cut off by her colleagues who were having a deer-in-the-headlights moment.

Marble says she is “saddened” that her comments came off the wrong way, as if they could have been taken any other way.

Sigh…

Then you have the stupid assholes that put other people’s lives in danger because of their own ridiculous actions: Vaccine-fearing Texas megachurch urges flock to immunize after measles outbreak | The Raw Story

A Texas megachurch whose leaders have linked vaccines to autism is now asking its members to get immunizations or stay quarantined after an outbreak of measles was traced to the congregation.

Instead of her normal sermon on Sunday, Eagle Mountain International Church Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons was forced to spend the majority of her time explaining how the congregation should react to the news that all of the 11 measles cases in Tarrant County had been linked to members or visitors of the church.

“You are more than enough, Jesus, you are more than enough!” Pearsons began. “You’re more than enough for any need we have. More than enough, Jesus. For things known and unknown, Jesus, you are more than enough. Can you shout, amen?”

“We’re going to talk about some things affecting our church, and as we go through it, we remain steadfast that Jesus is more than enough,” she told the congregation. “There has been a … confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them.”

Pearsons went on to say that the church was offering free vaccination clinics, and urged those who did not attend to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.

But the call for vaccinations was made awkward by the fact that Pearsons’ father, televangelist Kenneth Copeland, has promoted the idea that vaccines may lead to autism, according to the Dallas Observer.

Okay, I gotta a name for Pearsons’ father, televangelist Kenneth Copeland… he’s a real dooflicker. (*Jan. 1, 1953 “foreskin/penis”)

If you want another story that deals with dooflickers, how about this one…a black family was discriminated against in a Wild Wings Cafe restaurant in South Carolina…and what was that crap about no more racism in America? Yeah, right :  African American Family Denied Service at Wild Wings Cafe | Mediaite

An African American family who were denied service at a Wild Wings Café in Charleston, South Carolina after another patron felt “threatened,” claimed they were discriminated against, and were not satisfied with the restaurant’s response.

After waiting over two hours, customer Michael Brown and his family, who were at the restaurant for a going-away party, were told that there was “a situation.”

“[The manager] said there’s a situation where one of our customers feels threatened by your party, so she asked us not to seat you in our section, which totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,” Brown said according to WCSC. “Obviously, if we were causing any conflict, we would have been ejected out of the place hours before.”

When a member of the party began filming the exchange, the manager asked them to leave.

“I asked her I want to be clear with you,” Brown said. “I said, ‘So you’re telling me I have to leave.’ She said, ‘I have a right to deny you service.’ I said, ‘So you’re asking me to leave because you’re upset because he was recording you, after we’ve waited for two hours, and after you’ve already pretty much discriminated on us,’ and she answered, ‘Yes.’”

The company offered Brown a free meal….

When phone calls to the Wild Wings Café corporate office were not returned, Brown posted a critical message about the restaurant on Facebook, after which the company promptly responded.

“We had a conversation,” said the restaurant’s chief marketing officer. “It was a really good conversation. He and many of his family and friends were there about a month ago, and they are regular customers of ours. So, they were having a going away party, and they just didn’t receive the experience that they have come to know and love.”

Brown was offered a free meal, which he was not satisfied with. “We weren’t there for a free meal,” he said.

Video at the link.

There was another shooting yesterday, this time in Florida: Deadly North Florida shooting spree ends in suicide; gunman, 2 former coworkers killed – OrlandoSentinel.com

If you have not read the details behind the shero from this past week…the one woman who stopped a massacre from happening in a Decatur Elementary School, you need to. Antoinette Tuff-Michael Brandon Hill: Atlanta school clerk says she talked gunman into surrendering.

Meanwhile, a quick update on Russia: Critics: Putin’s Olympic Security Decree Violates Rights

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to tighten security in the Black Sea resort of Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, imposing restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly that critics said violated human rights.

The decree creates a “prohibited zone” encompassing much of the sprawling city, barring travel into Sochi by road without special permission and banning public gatherings “not connected” with the Olympics in high security areas on land and sea.

Putin has staked his reputation on the security and success of Russia’s first Olympics since the Soviet era and has ordered law enforcement authorities to prevent any attacks by Islamist militants based in the nearby North Caucasus provinces.

In early July, insurgent leader Doku Umarov revoked a previous order to refrain from attacking Russian targets outside the North Caucasus and urged militants to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Games.

Published in the official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Friday, the decree enters into force on Jan. 7, a month before the opening ceremony, and expires on March 21, a month after the Olympics end.

Human rights activists said the restrictions were draconian.

Barring cars from outside Sochi restricts Russians’ freedom of movement and the ban on most public gatherings violates their constitutional right to free assembly, said Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer and head of the legal aid group Agora.

[…]

“Under such conditions the Olympics, which are supposed to be celebration of sport and democracy, will become the exact opposite,” prominent Russian environmental activist Alexei Yablokov said in a comment posted on the Internet.

“Nature is being destroyed, people are being evicted from their homes, and now it turns out that a state of emergency is being imposed,” he said.

Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said he planned to hold a gay pride march in Sochi on the opening day of the Olympics and that it could not be prohibited by presidential decree.

“Are the Olympics an emergency situation, like a war or a natural disaster?” Alexeyev was quoted as saying by the website grani.ru. “There has been no precedent in history in which peaceful demonstrations have been banned in a city where the Olympics were being held.”

Oh boy…that is one hell of a headache, something has to be done, but I get the feeling it ain’t happening.

There is an exhibit at The Met that ends today: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – P.S. Art 2013

This year marks the eleventh anniversary of P.S. Art, an annual exhibition of talented young artists from New York City’s public schools. The selection showcases the creativity of eighty-three prekindergarten through grade 12 students from all five boroughs and includes paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media works, collages, and drawings. Each piece demonstrates personal expression, imaginative use of media, close observation, and an understanding of artistic processes.

This juried exhibition is also a celebration of public school achievement in the arts. Dedicated art teachers support students’ creativity and help them look closely in order to respond to their worlds through art making. As students take art classes from one year to the next, they increase their understanding of art, sharpen their skills, and delve more deeply into their imaginations.

You can view a slide show with an essay written by some of the students at this link here: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – P.S. Art 2013: Student Artworks

Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait
Yasmine Kobt
Age 10, Grade 4
P.S./I.S. 49, Queens
Art Teacher: Katherine Huala
Chalk pastel on paper

Art comes from your heart and it’s full of magic. I remember drawing and doodling since the age of two. I feel that when I draw, I learn many amazing things. I would like to be an artist when I grow up.

I want you to feel the emotions that I am feeling in my drawing. Look very closely and notice that I am trying to show many different feelings in my portrait. I look quiet and in a good mood, but actually I want to show different feelings. One of my sides is a rainbow showing happiness, curiosity, and shyness. My other side shows sadness and upset feelings. I used many blues to show one strong feeling. My drawing shows that colors and lines may be used to show many different feelings.

Teacher Comments:

Yasmine’s piece is a final work in a drawing unit in which students were asked to make an expressive self-portrait using line, shape, and color to describe a feeling or mood. Students were inspired by the work of Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Kirchner, Soutine, and Delaunay. The artists spent time exploring chalk pastels, and we discussed how controlling chalk is more challenging than controlling oil pastels. Students practiced various blending and texture techniques to develop imaginative capacities and observational and expressive skills.

Yasmine is an incredibly committed and enthusiastic artist. Her work has subtlety and thoughtfulness, and is exemplary for a fourth-grade student. Yasmine’s drawing shows a deep understanding of line, shape, and color. I particularly like the way she considered gesture and point of view. The slanted shoulders and tilt of the head add to the expressive quality of the portrait. The way Yasmine blended the pastels and used various degrees of pressure to create different visual effects is very advanced.

Go look at the rest of the artwork selected, it is wonderful.

Okay, there was some fuss this past week on Bradley Manning/Chelsea Manning, and the use of pronouns…and wigs and lipstick. Well, I will post a couple of links and see what kind of reaction you have to them:

Thoughts On Chelsea Manning’s Coming Out | Justice For All

I have some thoughts on how Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s gender dysphoria was rolled out.

Let me begin by saying I’m going to give, and I’m going to advocate for, respect for Manning’s chosen name and publicly embraced gender, and I’m going to use female pronouns and call her Chelsea. That; however, comes with a mixed bag of emotions.

Image: Chelsea Manning

I’m going to respect Chelsea’s public request in part because of the Biblical teaching I learned as Pentecostal youth that I still embrace today: treat others as I want to be treated.

But as I respect her name and identified gender, I’m cognizant that Chelsea didn’t respect the trans community — the trans community of which I am a part — in how she came out.

And this:

Chelsea WoManning? #AYKM? | Still4Hill

Yesterday, Manning made this statement upon sentencing.

“I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. … When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”

Certainly the probability exists that people were endangered and possibly hurt. The deception in Manning’s  words is his claim that he meant no harm. If you love your country, you do not violate oaths you have taken.  You do not expose fellow citizens to peril.  You do not provide classified and secret information to those who can and might make it available to enemies in time of war, and you do not do this as if your “practical joke” will cause harm to high officials in your government and other cooperative governments.  You do not do these things lightly in a time of war.

So this morning, we awakened to the news that Bradley Manning is no longer a man but rather a woman – a woman to be called “Chelsea.”  Really?

Bradley Manning wants to live as a woman

Following his sentencing to 35 years for leaking military documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning now seeks hormone treatments and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea.

Who is Manning?

At left, Manning is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Dec. 22, 2011. At right, in an undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Manning is shown wearing a wig and lipstick. (AP Photos)

Without getting into the LGBT issues here or the legal intricacies of the degree to which what a prisoner “wants” should be obliged or where we draw lines re: necessary medical interventions on their behalf – I mean I have committed no crimes and would like to be 5’7″ and might want a LifeStyle Lift one day (will you taxpayers please fund it?)  – without even asking if convicts have a right to a name change (spies do this all the time, after all)  – I do feel it incumbent on me to ask what name could have been more ironic?   Oh, wait!  I know!  Hillary Manning.  Yes, that would be a tad more ironic!

You did it, Manning, so man up!   To me, your name is Mudd!

Since I have lived under a rock since Tuesday night, I really don’t have an opinion on all of this. Blah…is what I feel at the moment.

Now just a few Hollywood links…

Quentin Tarantino’s Greatest Characters – Films – ShortList Magazine

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat – there’s nothing great about cutting off another man’s ear. So when we’re discussing the merits or otherwise of Quentin Tarantino’s invariably aggressive characters, let’s all accept that by “great” we don’t mean admirable. We mean memorable. And there’s a hell of a lot of them.

We set ourselves the task of whittling dozens and dozens of QT’s finest creations down to just 25. You can let us know how horribly wrong we are in the comments, but bear in mind that for every negative comment made, the editor picks one of us writers to suffer his infamous Five Point Palm Exploding Paycheck Technique.

Hmmm, I have to put Jackie Brown up there at the top…along with Odell Robbie of course. But then…Hans Landa was one hell of a NAZI.

On to Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad. Gunn plays Skyler White, the wife of bad guy and homicidal meth making monster, Mr. White. She wrote an op/ed for the NY Times about the hate her character receives on a daily basis around social media sites. Check it out: I Have a Character Issue

PLAYING Skyler White on the television show “Breaking Bad” for the past five seasons has been one of the most rewarding creative journeys I’ve embarked on as an actor. But the role has also taken me on another kind of journey — one I never would have imagined.

My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hating her, has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women. As the hatred of Skyler blurred into loathing for me as a person, I saw glimpses of an anger that, at first, simply bewildered me.

You should read the whole thing because she explains a lot, but I want to bring your attention to this:

At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?

But I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.

I can’t say that I have enjoyed being the center of the storm of Skyler hate. But in the end, I’m glad that this discussion has happened, that it has taken place in public and that it has illuminated some of the dark and murky corners that we often ignore or pretend aren’t still there in our everyday lives.

As I said go read the rest, Gunn does bring up some valid points.

Then take a look at these responses from a few other online mags:

‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5: Anna Gunn Talks Skyler White And Being A Hated Woman On TV

Is “Breaking Bad’s” Skyler White (Anna Gunn) the most hated woman on TV these days?

Judging from Facebook pages dedicated to loathing her, it certainly seems like it. And Gunn isn’t shy about admitting it upsets her … not just when it comes to defending Skyler — the wife of drug lord Walter White (Bryan Cranston) — but women as a whole.

“As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch,” Gunn, who is in her final episodes of AMC’s critically-acclaimed drama, wrote in a New York Times Op-ed.“But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or ‘stand by her man’? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?”

“It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives,” she continued. “Carmela Soprano of ‘The Sopranos,’ Betty Draper of ‘Mad Men.’ Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.”

Perhaps Gunn has a point. While Walt, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) got away with murder — at least in some cases — their stubborn wives somehow come out looking like the bad guys.

‘Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn Pens NYT Op-Ed To Internet Haters – Deadline.com

Haters gonna hate: Anna Gunncould nab an Emmy for her celebrated work on AMC‘s Breaking Bad. Comic-Con

But online her character on the show, Skyler White, has earned a “bewildering” amount of fan vitriol.

Anna Gunn’s Just Trying To Understand Why People Want To Kill Her– Huffington Post

As Breaking Bad comes to a close (AHHHH!), hopefully cultural critics will be examining viewers’ vitriol against Walter White’s complex, long-suffering wife — which has been so severe it’s been termed “the Skyler White” effect and applied to other TV wives — at length. [Spoilers to follow.]

Just as it’s hard to pin down at what precise point that Cranston’s character became more Heisenberg than Walt, it’s impossible to say when in the series Skyler became the most hated female character on television. When she devised, businesslike, the elaborate gambling-addiction cover-up to tell Hank and Marie? When she bought the car wash and became complicit in Walt’s crime? The infamous “I fucked Ted” line, basically the only way she could assert her autonomy? The latter would be my guess.

Anna Gunn, who has watched the criticism of her character become criticism of her as a person, even to the point of death threats, writes for the New York Times:

A typical online post complained that Skyler was a “shrieking, hypocritical harpy” and didn’t “deserve the great life she has.” “I have never hated a TV-show character as much as I hate her,” one poster wrote. The consensus among the haters was clear: Skyler was a ball-and-chain, a drag, a shrew, an “annoying bitch wife.”

She points out that other wives of antiheroes on popular TV shows have elicited similar feelings, e.g. Carmela Soprano and Betty Draper. But unlike Mad Men or The Sopranos, in the last few seasons, for better or worse, Breaking Bad has indulged in a certain fan-boy attitude towards its leading man (during an old-school Western standoff: “You’re Heisenberg.” “You’re damn right.”) that might attract the kind of male viewers who actually root for “badass” Walt — and detest Skylar for being a buzzkill, fucking someone else and giving the guy all of Walt’s money, even changing physically. Maybe a viable explanation for the phenomenon is that the type of audience has changed.

Wow…again…take a look at the rest of those links.

And finally, last night we learned that Julie Harris passed away. I thought she was a hell of an actress. God I loved her in The Haunting! Anyway, here is her Obituary: Julie Harris, Broadway star, dies at 87

https://i1.wp.com/www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/79670b36f540db78c9be192dc620b46eda4a3e87/c=16-0-1984-1483&r=x404&c=534x401/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2013/08/24/1377391832000-AP-Obit-Julie-Harris.jpg

(Photo: Suzanne Plunkett, AP)

Julie Harris, one of Broadway’s most honored performers, whose roles ranged from the flamboyant Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, died Saturday. She was 87.

Harris died at her West Chatham, Mass. home of congestive heart failure, actress and family friend Francesca James said.

Harris won a record five Tony Awards for best actress in a play, displaying a virtuosity that enabled her to portray an astonishing gallery of women during a theater career that spanned almost 60 years and included such plays as The Member of the Wedding (1950), The Lark (1955), Forty Carats (1968) and The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1972).

She was honored again with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award in 2002. Only Angela Lansbury has neared her record, winning four Tonys in the best actress-musical category and one for best supporting actress in a play.

[…]

In the movies, she was James Dean’s romantic co-star in East of Eden (1955), and had rolls in such films as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), The Haunting (1963) and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).

Yet Harris’ biggest successes and most satisfying moments have been on stage. “The theater has been my church,” the actress once said. “I don’t hesitate to say that I found God in the theater.”

The 5-foot-4 Harris, blue-eyed with delicate features and reddish-gold hair, made her Broadway debut in 1945 in a short-lived play called It’s a Gift. Five years later, at the age of 24, Harris was cast as Frankie, a lonely 12-year-old tomboy on the brink of adolescence, in The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers’ stage version of her wistful novel.

The critics raved about Harris, with Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times calling her performance “extraordinary — vibrant, full of anguish and elation.”

“That play was really the beginning of everything big for me,” Harris had said.

The actress appeared in the 1952 film version, too, with her original Broadway co-stars, Ethel Waters and Brandon De Wilde, and received an Academy Award nomination.

[…]

Harris was born on Dec. 2, 1925, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the daughter of an investment banker. She grew up fascinated by movies, later saying she thought of herself as plain-looking and turned to acting as a way of becoming other persons.

She made her stage debut at the Grosse Pointe Country Day School in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at age 14. In the years that followed, she studied drama in finishing school, prep school, Yale University and the Actor’s Studio.

[…]

Harris was married three times, to lawyer Jay I. Julian, stage manager Manning Gurian and writer William Erwin Carroll. She had one son, Peter Alston Gurian.

For a review of a couple of her movies I will post a two videos from Steve Hays aka Tired Old Queer…damn do I love this man…if you can catch some of her movies on TCM, please do!

The Haunting

East of Eden

Have a wonderful day,  and see you all in September!


Friday Reads: Life’s a Beach

beachcd36Good Morning!

It’s Friday and some how everything old is new again

Republicans continue to search for a president as impeachable as Nixon.  I wrote about this last night, but wtf don’t they get about high crimes and misdemeanors? It seems to be another Clintonian search for votes during an election that’s not about the President.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that President Barack Obama was getting “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment. Coburn was speaking at the Muskogee Civic Center in Oklahoma.

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that’s called impeachment,” Coburn said, responding to a question about holding President Obama accountable. “That’s not something you take lightly, and you have to use a historical precedent of what that means. I think there’s some intended violation of the law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence, of people who are making decisions.”

“Even if there is incompetence, the IRS forces me to abide by the law,” a constituent responded to Coburn.

“No, I agree,” Coburn said. “My little wiggle out of that when I get that written to me is I believe that needs to be evaluated and determined, but thank goodness it doesn’t have to happen in the Senate until they’ve brought charges in the House. Those are serious things, but we’re in a serious time. I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanor, but I think they’re getting perilously close.”

Coburn then mentioned a story of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees telling him that officials at Homeland Security said to “ignore all the background” and just “approve people.”

“I’m documenting all this stuff as it goes along, but I don’t know where that level is,” Coburn added.

“Barack Obama is personal friend of mine. He became my friend in the Senate but that does not mean I agree in any way with what he’s doing or how he’s doing it. And I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in, and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency,” Coburn concluded.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Here’s the President’s plan to make college more affordable.  Will it work and who will vote for it?

By the 2015 school year, Obama said, his administration will begin evaluating colleges on measures such as the average tuition they charge, the share of low-income students they enroll and their effectiveness in ensuring students graduate without too much debt.

The president also will seek congressional approval — which could prove difficult — to steer more federal student aid toward colleges that score highly in the ratings. A student in financial need at such schools might qualify for a larger Pell grant or a better interest rate on a federal loan.

The result, officials hope, will be relief for families from college bills that are in many cases three times as high as they were 30 years ago even after adjusting for inflation. Average tuition and fees topped $8,600 last year at public four-year colleges and $29,000 at private and nonprofit schools. The total annual bill, counting room and board, exceeds $50,000 at many elite schools.

“Higher education should not be a luxury. It is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford,” Obama told students packed into a basketball arena at the University at Buffalo.

Obama’s plan relies in part on his executive power to collect, manage and publish data. But it is likely to draw significant criticism from colleges intent on protecting their market share, and a divided Congress will present an immediate obstacle to elements of the plan that require legislation.

Obama said that in a global, knowledge-based economy, a quality college education is more important than ever. He pitched the ratings system as a consumer guide for prospective students and parents, evaluating which schools offer “the bigger bang for the buck.” His idea is that accountability will yield affordability.

“Colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer money going up,” Obama said.

So, I used to read Maureen Dowd because you know, occasionally a stopped clock is right like two times a day,  Here’s an analysis on her that’s spot on.

1920s-Beach-Scene-vintage-beefcake-8731615-825-678

New York Times star columnist Maureen Dowd just isn’t one to let the facts get in the way of a good story—or an accurate quote for that matter. Her most recent misdeed, for which she has apologized (most likely in the face of tape recorded evidence against her) is misquoting Progressive Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray. A little background: de Blasio, the only candidate in the race who is talking about inequality (more severe in New York than just about anywhere else in the country) has lately overtaken longtime frontrunner Christine Quinn in the polls. (Anthony Weiner briefly led before self-imploding.) Quinn is an out lesbian, married to her partner, but that might be it in terms of her progressive credentials. She is seen as too cozy with big business and real estate.

But back to Dowd, who, it seems decided to stir up a little trouble. She quoted McCray, de Blasio’s wife, saying that she thinks Quinn is “not accessible … She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.” Understandably, took this as implying that she, a childless lesbian doesn’t understand issues “like taking care of children,” in other words a swipe at her sexual orientation.

But McCray did not say that. Dowd compressed what she said to such an extent that it really altered the meaning. What McCray did say, responding to a question of why women may not supporting Quinn in droves is:

“Well, I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace; she is not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that, I feel, that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things. And I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling.”

Pretty different. Although it should be said, Quinn was still mad.

Dowd’s accuracy has been shaky, and she can be pretty offensive,

WTF is it with Dowd?  Does she have to be the only woman in the room?

This is another story that I can hardly believe in this day of science and fact.  But, it seems that about 30% of the population believe that Gay people can change their sexual orientation.  Some one should ask them if they could change theirs!!!

In the wake of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s announcement that he will sign a bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for gay teens, the Pew Research Center pointed to recent research that more than one in three Americans believe sexual orientation can be changed.

On Tuesday Pew republished the data — gathered in 2012 — in a sobering reminder of just how far this country has to go in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender acceptance. The survey concluded that slightly more than half of all Americans believe an LGBT individual cannot change sexual orientation — while 36 percent believe it’s possible.

These numbers reflect a small shift toward increased tolerance from a decade ago, according to Pew, which in 2003 found that 42 percent of Americans felt being gay was changeable, while 42 percent believed it was not.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, LGBT advocacy group GLAAD’s Director of Religion, Faith & Values Ross Murray explained that New Jersey’s gay conversion ban “focuses on the harm that comes from trying to force someone’s sexual orientation.”

The widely disputed idea that sexual orientation is “curable” or changeable is bad enough, but even worse is that many people who end up in gay conversion therapies are minors, Murray told HuffPost. “[They] did not choose the program for themselves,” he said, “and may have been forced into it by a parent who was influenced by religious leaders.”

It makes me think that the Spanish Inquisition is still not that far away!

group

I was rather shocked to find out that fishing off of Fukishima has just been suspended!

A fisheries co-op in Soma Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, said Thursday it will end its trial catch at the end of this month, signaling an indefinite halt to all local fishing operations off the prefecture because of the constant flow of highly radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the Pacific.

The move by the co-op in Soma Futaba, in the northern part of the prefecture, follows a decision by a co-op in Iwaki, in the southern part, to drop plans to resume operations on a trial basis from Sept. 5.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it noticed puddles with high radiation levels near an area where a number of radioactive water storage tanks stand at the Fukushima plant. At least one of the tanks has been leaking, and it is believed the water it contained seeped down and merged with tainted groundwater that is flowing to the sea, and ran to the Pacific in drainage channels.

Tepco later admitted that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from the tank, which should have been holding about 1,000 tons. It said Wednesday that water from the tank probably flowed to the ocean through drainage channels.

Hiroyuki Sato, head of the Soma Futaba cooperative, said, “We want the central government to take steps to pull us out of this trouble as quickly as possible.”

JJ has written about this but it is really truly shocking!! What is going on with Fukishima and why aren’t more countries involved?

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo. Following the discovery that highly contaminated water is leaking from one of the hastily built storage tanks at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s nuclear watchdog said officials are concerned that more steel storage tanks will spring leaks.

So, those are the stories that I’m following this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Caturday: Celebrations and Reflections

1014335_406336752816251_509147101_nGood afternoon, newsjunkies!

Have you seen next week’s cover of The New Yorker that’s been floating around the internet yet? Well, obviously you have now if you’re reading this post. It’s nothing short of SQUEEEEE! Bert and Ernie nestled together on the couch snuggin’ while watching The Supremes in their robes on the TV.

The Supremes did good on knocking the wind out of DOMA, but it was a long time coming. They’re still in the doghouse for all their other despicable and unreal rulings this week. So while I did pop some champagne to celebrate the good things going on, including the tumbling down of DOMA, no cookies to the Supremes on this. I give the credit to all the grassroots LGBT activists and their growing accumulation of allies who have worked so hard for so many years to bring Wednesday’s ruling to fruition. Well done, everyone! The 21st century is finally starting to arrive…it’s here, it’s queer, and we as a society are not only going to live with it–we are going to live it up! Watch out, y’all, I am so happy for our LGBT sisters and brothers and for all of us as a ONE LOVE-ONE WORLD, I could about start doing some of my inner feminist Pollyanna somersaults all over this page. (I am an absolute klutz with no athletic motor skill coordination whatsoever, so that is truly a feat!)

So, to review:

relaxheterosexuals

And, via HuffPo, 10 WAYS THE DOMA REPEAL WILL AFFECT ‘TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE’:

After the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that the Defense Of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, it’s time to look at the top 10 ways heterosexual marriage will be affected now that it’s not being defended.

1. Uh…
1

2. Uhhh…
2

3. Hmm…
3

4. Just a sec…
4

5. It’s like… You know how… It’s like when things… Right?
5

6. We swear we just had one
6

7. It’s coming… Wait for it…
7

8. Hey! Look over there!
8

9. Wait, where are you going?
9

10. Global warming?
10

Here’s what the wonderful Joyce L. Arnold  of “Queer Talk” has been blogging over at Taylor Marsh’s, which I think gives a pretty good overview and is instructive in terms of “Where we go from here”…Note: I am only quoting excerpts here, interspersed with a bit of commentary from me, so take the time to click over and read the pieces in full when you get the chance:

The much anticipated Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 were announced this morning.[…] The fight for marriage equality isn’t over. Everyone knows that. But today is huge, and it’s time to do some celebrating.

Post SCOTUS, post DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, the “now what” in LGBT equality question is getting attention, and one response to that question comes by way of the Campaign for Southern Equality. The organization didn’t just come into existence, but they were very ready for this moment. Other LGBT groups are, too, of course, from local to state to national levels. I find the efforts of CSE to be particularly inspiring precisely because they refuse to comply with the “just move to where you’re more accepted” arguments – and we hear them regularly – but stay, and fight for equality. There are a lot of people doing that, in the South and other more “challenging,” but definitely changing toward the better, areas.

About CSE: (emphasis added throughout)

Based in North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is an effort to assert the full humanity and equality of LGBT people living in the South.

One of their projects is the WE DO Campaign, which

… involves LGBT couples in the Southern communities where they live requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses in order to call for full equality under federal law and to resist unjust state laws.

These WE DO actions serve to make the impact of discriminatory laws visible to the general public; they illustrate what it looks like when LGBT people are treated as second-class… citizens under the law.

Take less than three minutes to watch.

Here is the video Joyce has spotlighted, which is well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Very inspiring (this roundup continues after the video, so please keep scrolling after you view it):

More from Joyce’s post:

Celebrations continue. Statements agreeing and disagreeing with the decisions are still coming, from the White House to “citizen on the street.” Most likely the next sermon topic was an easy one for many, pro and con marriage equality.

And lots of analysis, which is obviously important, continues being done. It includes wide recognition that while this really is one of those moments we can call “historic,” there are 37 states with no marriage recognition; there are big questions about how same-sex couples are treated in terms of the military and immigration; and among other things, there is no federal employment protection. None of that detracts from the celebration. In fact, equality proponents in all of those “issues,” and more, can be energized by the SCOTUS decisions.

At The Advocate, “Message at Rallies: Celebrate Today, Fight Tomorrow.” At a post-SCOTUS decision rally in West Hollywood, with about 4000 people present, screenwriter Dustin Lanc Black said:

‘(I)t is time for each and every one of us to take that strength you now feel as Californians, and take it to Texas, and take it to Virginia … take it to Holland, Michigan … to Altoona, Pennsylvania. … You need to take your strength to these places, and share this feeling with this nation so we no longer leave a single one of our brothers or our sisters behind, no matter … which state they live.’

From the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force:

‘Today’s historic decisions are a significant leap forward for freedom and justice for same-sex couples and their families, the LGBT community and for our nation — and a lot more work needs to be done to deliver marriage equality to the rest of our nation’s same-sex couples and their families and full equality in every other respect for all LGBT people,’ said Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director.

Parties continue around the nation, as they should. There’s a lot to celebrate. Statements and analyses will keep coming for a long time, I’d guess, as the impact of the decisions is made clear in practice. And advocacy and actions will continue, in all regions and states of the nation. Look to every region, including the South.

(We Do Campaign via Campaign for Southern Equality)

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, tweeted his sadness about the Supreme Court decisions regarding DOMA and Prop 8, but then rather quickly deleted it. That seems a fair representation of Cathy’s efforts to somehow balance an anti-LGBT – at least related to marriage equality – while also, as a spokesperson put it, provide “genuine hospitality to everyone.”

Via Huffington, Cathy’s tweet:

Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: conerstone of strong societies

No word about what the founding mothers would think.

Ok, pardon me but I have to interrupt here to cackle my witchy woman feminist ass off. Joyce goes on to cover the ins-and-outs of Cathy’s trying to have his corporate cake and eat it too while lamenting his sadness over…what seems to me a more perfect union. That appears to be the source of Cathy and his ilk’s lament. They don’t want this union to become more perfect, because that requires giving up their various privileges and twisted means of ‘control.’  (Though it’s always hard not to ask for the most vehement of the homophobic crowd, if they are in control at all or really they are deep in the closet. Because, let’s let the elephant out the room, y’all. That’s the only reason legalizing gay marriage would affect a so-called heterosexual marriage that would need any defending from it.)

Joyce also quotes more whining tweets from Huckabee, et al., via OpEd News:

[Mike Huckabee tweet]: ‘My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: ‘Jesus wept.’ …

‘Today, marriage, children, and the rule of law all suffer.’ Randy Thomassen, Save California. …

[Matt Barber tweet]: In states w/ ‘gay marriage’ there is no longer a legal or ethical defense against multi-party, incestuous or any other twiested ‘marriages’ …

How long before federal agents haul pastors out of the pulpit? – Todd Starnes, Fox News.

To which Joyce’s response is simply awesome:

Founding Fathers, weeping, suffering, children and incest … the familiar “the sky is falling” kind of responses.

As a follow-up to Joyce’s comment, I must insert the following, which I had used elsewhere on the internet (Facebook of course..on the Pink Sneaks support page JJ and I are working on) in reference to Stupakistan’s reaction. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Gov. Goodhair…) to the arrival of what Salon proposes we are now, i.e. a “Wendy Davis Nation.”

Anyhow, here is the graphic because it applies to what Joyce has highlighted about the sad, lamenting reactions to the DOMA/Prop8 reversal:

"Oh, the sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it’s still the same song." Star Trek: The Original Series, 1x06 ("Mudd’s Women")

“Oh, the sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it’s still the same song.” Star Trek: The Original Series, 1×06 (“Mudd’s Women”)

Joyce concludes by saying the following, which I totally agree:

My bet is the founding mothers and fathers just might approve of “liberty and justice for all” efforts. And since we’ve more or less (with some significant “less” moments and issues) been focused on that goal for quite some time, and the sky hasn’t even started falling, we’re safe to keep at it. And in trouble if we don’t.

Last but not least, Joyce reports…

The Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), filed by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate and by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, would completely repeal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). The Supreme Court decisions were a big step in that direction, but not complete.

Ok, as I said, please do go read Joyce’s pieces in full whenever you can. Here’s a handy link where you can see her posts archived together in one place.

Pivoting from “gay rights are human rights” (smiles in thoughts of Hillary and Hillary 2016) to “women’s rights are human rights,” I want to touch on that article,“It’s a Wendy Davis Nation Now,” that I briefly linked to above from Salon though, because I have a very revealing excerpt I wanted to highlight from it:

For years — particularly the ones Democrats spent in the wilderness, losing national elections — the party’s pro-choice stance was blamed for losing so-called values voters. Axelrod pointed out how that had changed: “These were motivational issues for people on our side … What’s interesting to me is that these were once wedge issues for Republicans. Now some of them are working as wedge issues against Republicans. And it shows a shift of attitudes.”

Gay rights, of course, have long since lost any traction as a wedge issue in Republicans’ favor in all but the narrowest districts. It remains to be seen how the immigration reform debate will play out politically, but the 2012 election and its “self-deportation” rhetoric is widely seen to have driven away Latinos and Asians. And of course there was defunding Planned Parenthood and Todd Akin. But, Axelrod added, abortion wasn’t part of that. Or, as he put it, “Abortion’s a separate discussion.”

If this week was any indication — along with recent protests in Wisconsin and Ohio, and possibly more to come — that may not prove true.

Thus, if we are truly entering Wendy Davis Nation, then we must be exiting not just Bush country, but also Rove-Axelrod’s understanding of women’s rights as a “separate discussion.” Keeping my ears open and my eyes wide and waiting to see what happens next!

Before I end this post, just for some Caturday fun, and for purposes of smashing the patriarchy with my crazy cat lady pink-ness, here are pictures of my nails that I got done last night (click for larger view):

1002764_406725882777338_1556208287_n998668_406725862777340_1727898640_n

And, on that note, Sky Dancers, I’m going to turn the soapbox over to you. Do the wonderful thing you do in the comments y’all, and have a great weekend!


Wednesday AM: Justice for Marco McMillian

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Posted to Marco McMillian’s facebook page: “As we work for justice in the murder of Marco W McMillian we held a press conference in Clarksdale, MS on Thursday May 9, 2013. Please goggle Marco McMillian to get full details. Pictured from (L to R) Atty. Daryl Parks of Parks and Crump law firm, Marco’s mother, Patricia Unger and Sharon Hicks of the National Justice Collation”

Hey all, Mona here…I have missed you all dearly, my Sky Dancing newsjunkies! Had some life-things keeping me out of the regular loop. Funerals and graduations…endings and new beginnings. That kind of thing. And, lots and lots of soul-searching. But, I guess you could say I’m “back” now. For better or worse 😉 I’m going to just dive right in and get my feet wet in the blogging pond…I’ll be using the frontpage this morning to spotlight a topic I wish was getting more attention from the national media. Not to worry, though–JJ will have your Wednesday news round-up fix later in the day! So be sure to check back in for that.

So, how many of you have been following the Marco McMillian story? I know Bostonboomer had mentioned it before back when McMillian was discovered dead in February. Well, the family is now demanding answers. Via the NYT:

Mother’s Letter to Sheriff

Frustrated by the pace of the investigation into the death, Marco McMillian’s mother, Patricia Unger, wrote to investigators regarding unanswered questions in her son’s case.

Click over to see the PDF for yourself. Key excerpt:

It has been over two months since my son, Marco Watson McMillian, was found murdered on February 26, 2013. Within this time frame, my husband and I have only received two visits/correspondences from you. The visit took place on February 26, 2013. During this visit, you informed us that Marco’s SUV had been involved in an accident and that someone else was driving the SUV. You also stated that Marco was not in the vehicle and that you were trying to locate him. The second visit took place on February 27, 2013, during this visit you informed us that his body had been found.

Last month, my husband, Amos Unger, contacted you via phone inquiring about the investigation. You informed him that the investigation was still ongoing and that you could not release any information about the investigation because you were trying to conduct it in a professional manner. You stated that you did not want any leaks to take place due to the family making statements to the press/media. However, I do not feel like the investigation has been done with professionalism. Listed below are unanswered questions/reasons why I feel like this investigation has not been conducted in an ethical manner:

Patricia Unger goes on to list some pretty appalling ethical and professional breaches, such as:

  • The only identification of the body sought by the police from the family was through a cell phone picture.
  • The family has yet to be introduced to any actual FBI agents investigating the case.

The final point of concern she raises, in her own words:

It has been reported in the press/’ media that you have a suspect in custody, Lawrence Reed. It has also been reported that family members and/or friends have stated that Mr. Reed informed them that he killed Marco in a “gay rape panic”. in this case, suspect and motive have been determined, so why is there still an ongoing investigation? Have other facts/factors been discovered that warrant further investigation? Also, it has been reported that Mr. Reed confessed to killing Marco by strangling him with his wallet chain. in that case, strangulation was the cause of death, so why is it taking so long for me to receive the death certificate? 1 know that this is a matter for the State Medical Examiner, but i would like to know if another cause of death has been or is being taken into consideration.

Pardon my Fraaaaanch, but what the fraggle rock kind of investigation is this? If Patricia Unger’s charges are true , the investigation into her son’s murder makes Mark Fuhrman’s antics in the OJ case look like a paragon of ethics. (Ok, so I’m hyperbolizing, but you get the point.)

The family held a press conference last Thursday. The family’s lawyer, Attorney Daryl Parks, is from the firm that represented Trayvon Martin’s family.

The virtual silence in the national mediaseems deafening to me. Other than local news coverage, the link above from LGBTQNation website (of the standard press release type reporting from the AP), and the NYT link above to the actual letter by McMillian’s mother, I have seen scarce coverage of this story. I don’t have any cable or digital converter, thus I don’t have a constant 24/7 IV-drip of cable news…so maybe I’ve missed whatever blip about the family’s questions and press conference may have been buried on the network formerly known as CNN’s Headline News. Anecdotally, I asked my daily newspaper reading/cable newsjunkie mother if she had heard anything about it, and shockingly…though unsurprisingly…my bringing it up was the first she had heard of it.

Marco-McMillan-with-Obama-and-Clinton

I’ve had to go on McMillian’s FB pages (both as mayoral candidate and himself personally) looking for answers. As a case in point, I found the NYT link to his mother’s letter through his personal page.

Marco’s future in politics was bright. To the right you can see him with President Obama and Representative John Lewis, as well as with President Bill Clinton. That he was the first “viable” openly gay black candidate for political office in Mississippi is both incidental and monumental at the same time.

It makes me worry–however fear-driven that may be–for this guy I posted about ever so briefly on my baby blog, LetThemListen, last month:

Precisely, senator.senator

Alright, well I’ve said my piece. I’d love to hear your thoughts or anything else on your mind/reading list this morning. Take care and remember to stay tuned for JJ’s Wednesday Roundup later today.


UPDATED: Obama Endorses Marriage Equality. (Will Obama Endorse Marriage Equality this afternoon? All eyes on the ABC interview…)

YES, HE DID… with Hillary’s influence I bet 😉

Barack Obama becomes the first SITTING President of The United States to utter these words:

I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Full context:

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.
Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Earlier Sky Dancing Post… Via Think Progress:

REPORT: Obama Expected To Endorse Marriage Equality In ABC News Interview
By Igor Volsky on May 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm
As President Obama prepares to sit down with ABC’s Robin Roberts this afternoon just hours after voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, political reporters are predicting that he may finally complete his evolution and endorse the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian people.
“Every expectation that we will, within the next hour, be in a different world, where we will have a President of the United States who supports the legalization of gay marriage,” Mark Halperin said this afternoon during an appearance on MSNBC. “The Vice President, I think, forced his hand. But even before the Vice President spoke on Meet The Press in favor of gay marriage, the President was headed in this direction,” he added. Watch it:

As the 2012 general election officially draws closer–The Fierce Urgency of NOW is finally upon us! Heh…

Still, IF this pans out–and I stress IF, because if there are more “evolving” caveats… then that’s a dealbreaker.

But, IF Obama actually endorses marriage equality and actually *stands up* for LGBT rights for a change, I just may finally have somebody/something to finally vote FOR (as opposed to against) in this godforsaken election.