Monday Reads: Hello Darkness, my old friend

Traditional New Orleans Jazz funeral in the 1970s

Well, it’s another day to find out how low the party and appointments of KKKremlin Caligula can go and it’s low.  It’s about as low as the nadir of morality set by the monster himself.  Today’s news isn’t pleasant at all from any vantage point.  I’m reminded that death is a natural part of life and one that every one tries to ignore but must face.  I’d like to give a jazz funeral for some of these items, but I’m having a hard time celebrating the life before the loss.

Today, is our first day without Net Neutrality. Any of us that have been on the internet a long time–1981 for me–will know that everything use to be much freer, less commercial, and less ridden with stalkers.  I don’t miss the old modem that required a telephone ear/mouth piece.  I don’t miss having to direct dial to most sites.  I also do not miss that the only graphics you would ever see were in either gold and green and entirely composed of characters.  I do miss the days before AOL let all their subscribers lose on the web and there is much we will miss with the death of Net Neutrality. This is from Slate.

Monday, June 11, is the first day of the post-net neutrality internet. In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era rules that prohibit internet companies from slowing down or speeding up access to certain websites, but it took about six months for the repeal to get a sign-off from the Office of Management and Budget and for the new rules to be published in the federal register. Beginning, well, now, your internet access could—emphasis on could—feel dramatically different than it did yesterday.

Under the new network neutrality rules, internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are allowed to throttle traffic that travels over their network or even block access to entire websites as long as the companies alert their subscribers in their terms of service that they reserve the right to do so. But since most people in the United States don’t have more than one or two internet providers to choose from for broadband service, that means if users don’t wish to accept those terms, many won’t have anywhere else to go for their internet. Without net neutrality rules stopping them, internet providers will also be able to charge websites a fee to reach users faster.

Those internet providers stand to win the most from the net neutrality repeal, since they’ll be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll, collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want priority access to users. Already-powerful, deep-pocketed companies that can afford to pay for the fast-lane service, like Facebook or Yelp could wind up in a position to set the price, relegating smaller companies, nonprofits, or struggling news organizations to what is, in effect, a slower internet.

Leo Touchet, Jazz Funeral No. 70 (New Orleans, Louisiana) (1969)

We’re seeing another nail in the coffin of voting rights.  Today’s death blow came from the Supreme Court of the United States and yes, you know the ones that did it to us. This is from Buzzfeed‘s Court Reporter Chris Geidner:”The Supreme Court Just Upheld Ohio’s Aggressive Process For Purging Voters From The Rolls. The court split 5–4 on ideological grounds.”

The Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s system for purging inactive voters from the rolls — a decision that could lead other states to implement its aggressive procedure that can be triggered after a person fails to vote in one federal election.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote Monday’s 5–4 decision for the court, which was split along ideological lines.

Under Ohio’s system, voters who do not vote in a two-year period are sent a notice from the state. If they do not return the notice and then fail to vote for the next four years, their voter registration is canceled.

The Supreme Court held that the state’s process did not violate federal law.

Ohio had argued that its process was based on a provision of the National Voter Registration Act that allows states to remove people from voting rolls based on the grounds that they moved.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute, which sued the state, argued that the state, in fact, violated a different provision — which says that a person cannot be removed from voter rolls simply for failing to vote.

The court ruled that the state only uses the failure to vote “as a rough way of identifying voters who may have moved,” but that it actually begins the removal process by sending “a preaddressed, postage prepaid card to these individuals asking them to verify that they still reside at the same address.”

The court rejected the challengers’ argument that Ohio’s system violates the “Failure-to-Vote Clause.” The clause, Alito wrote, “simply forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, and Ohio does not use it that way.”

Justice Stephen Breyer summed up the dissenting justices’ view that Monday’s decision was an exercise in circular reasoning.

Most of us are still swooning from the weekend that basically cut the United States away from its closest allies, friends, and countries that share the values of reason, justice, and modernity.  Have we just witnessed the murder of the post-World War 2 coalition of the world’s greatest economic and democratic powers?  From the keyboard of Jeffrey Goldberg writing for The Atlantic:  “A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: ‘We’re America, Bitch’. The president believes that the United States owes nothing to anyone—especially its allies.”

Many of Donald Trump’s critics find it difficult to ascribe to a president they consider to be both subliterate and historically insensate a foreign-policy doctrine that approaches coherence. A Trump Doctrine would require evidence of Trump Thought, and proof of such thinking, the argument goes, is scant. This view is informed in part by feelings of condescension, but it is not meritless. Barack Obama, whose foreign-policy doctrine I studied in depth, was cerebral to a fault; the man who succeeded him is perhaps the most glandular president in American history. Unlike Obama, Trump possesses no ability to explain anything resembling a foreign-policy philosophy. But this does not mean that he is without ideas.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked a number of people close to the president to provide me with short descriptions of what might constitute the Trump Doctrine. I’ve been trying, as part of a larger project, to understand the revolutionary nature of Trump’s approach to world affairs. This task became even more interesting over the weekend, when Trump made his most ambitious move yet to dismantle the U.S.-led Western alliance; it becomes more interesting still as Trump launches, without preparation or baseline knowledge, a complicated nuclear negotiation with a fanatical and bizarre regime that quite possibly has his number.

Trumpian chaos is, in fact, undergirded by a comprehensible worldview, a number of experts have insisted. The Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Atlantic contributor) Thomas Wright argued in a January 2016 essaythat Trump’s views are both discernible and explicable. Wright, who published his analysis at a time when most everyone in the foreign-policy establishment considered Trump’s candidacy to be a farce, wrote that Trump loathes the liberal international order and would work against it as president; he wrote that Trump also dislikes America’s military alliances, and would work against them; he argued that Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the U.S.; and, finally, he wrote that Trump has an innate sympathy for “authoritarian strongmen.”

We continue to discover how deep Russian interference was in our election in 2016.  This is horrifying and it shows how big money and big lobbyists are killing our democracy.

You should read the entire article but here’s the money line.

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

Less we forget, Matt Ygelisias writing for Vox reminds us that: “There’s actually lots of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. The untenability of the “no collusion” talking point.”   We also need a jazz funeral for the truth.  We’re victims of weaponized, industrial strength gaslighting.

“In all of this, in any of this, there’s been no evidence that there’s been any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday at his weekly press conference. “Let’s just make that really clear. There’s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did and making sure they don’t do it again.”

From Ryan’s perspective, it would be convenient if it were true that Robert Mueller’s investigation had turned up no evidence of collusion, but it simply isn’t.

Republicans from Donald Trump on down have made “no collusion” a mantra. The term itself is ill-defined in this context; you won’t find in the US code. But roughly speaking, the question is whether the campaign got involved with Russian agents who committed computer crimes to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The verdict on this is unclear. But there is certainly plenty of evidence pointing toward collusion; what you would call “probable cause” in a legal context, or what a journalist might simply consider reason to continue investigating the story. And the investigating thus far, both by special counsel Mueller and by journalists working on the story, has been fruitful. The efforts have continued to turn up contacts between Trumpworld and Putinland, cover-ups, and dishonesty.

Even as recently as Friday afternoon, we got new indictments charging Trump’s former campaign chair and his former GRU operative business partner with witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

It’s important, obviously, not to prejudge a case. It turns out that Saddam Hussein was acting like a man who was covering up a secret nuclear weapons arsenal because he didn’t want the world to know how weak his defenses really were.

By the same token, it’s certainly possible that the various Trump-Russia contacts never amounted to anything and that they’ve been consistently covered up for some reason otherthan an effort to hide collusion. But both the contacts that have been revealed so far and the deception used to deny their existence are certainly evidence of collusion — evidence that should be (and is being) pursued by the special counsel’s office and that should not be dismissed by the press or by elected officials.

Yglesias has documented a rather long list of fires and smoking guns.  Go check it out.  We definitely need to throw a jazz funeral for what’s left of the values the Republican party held and ran on for years.  This is from NBC News: “The GOP once championed alliances and free trade. Why is it silent now?”

But after a weekend when President Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak,” after he refused to sign the joint communique from the G-7 summit, and after a top Trump aide said “there’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door” — those same Republican leaders have been silent.

(What did Trudeau do, by the way, to earn that condemnation from Team Trump? He said that Canada would respond with reciprocal tariffs on the U.S. tariffs the Trump administration imposed on Canada — nothing he and his government haven’t said before, including on “Meet the Press” a week ago.)

The one exception to this GOP silence was Sen. John McCain, who tweeted: “To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

But other Republicans haven’t repeated that message, which is striking when free trade has been one of the GOP’s central tenets over the last few decades. And there’s only one explanation for that Republican silence: Trump has bullied the entire party into submission — well, at least those who will have to face voters again.

Today begins the frightening process of watching two madmen sit across the table to compare dick sizes.   My money is on the North Koreans.

As Rick Wilson says:  “Everything Trump touches dies.”  We have not attended our last funeral but let’s try to find ways to comfort ourselves in the small celebrations of our daily lives.   This includes all of my dear friends here on Sky Dancing who I consider the best of family.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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Thursday Reads: Net Neutrality, Sandy Hook Anniversary, and Trump’s Megalomania

MA Sen. Ed Markey speaks at net neutrality rally outside FCC headquarters this morning.

Good Morning!!

Today the FCC will vote to kill net neutrality rules. That should set off a number of lawsuits and protests. The Commission meeting is happening right now.

NBC News: Net neutrality: FCC to vote on rules that will shape future of the internet.

Your future internet experience now rests in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to vote on Thursday to end rules requiring internet service providers to treat all traffic as equal.

The five members are expected to vote 3-2 along party lines to scrap Obama-era net neutrality rules, returning to a “light touch”approach and ending what Chairman Ajit Pai has called the federal government’s “micromanaging” of the internet.

“Prior to 2015, before these regulations were imposed, we had a free and open internet,” Pai told NBC News. “That is the future as well under a light touch, market-based approach. Consumers benefit, entrepreneurs benefit. Everybody in the internet economy is better off with a market based approach.”

The end of net neutrality rules will mark a huge victory for the big internet service providers. Depending on how they decide to act, the vote could have massive implications for the way you use the internet.

Gizmodo: Ajit Pai Thinks You’re Stupid Enough to Buy This Crap [Update: One of the 7 Things Is Dancing With a Pizzagater]

On Thursday, the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Verizon BFF Ajit Pai, will hold a vote on whether to repeal Barack Obama-era net neutrality rules. If passed, the FCC would allow ISPs to begin setting up a tiered internet designed to suck as much money from customers’ pockets as possible while screwing with their ability to access competitors’ content, or really anything that might suck up amounts of bandwidth inconvenient for their profit margins.

The plan is immensely unpopular, even with Republicans. This type of situation would typically call for a charm offensive, though Pai has apparently decided to resort to his time-honored tactic of being incredibly condescending instead. In a video with the conservative site Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson—the dude who got fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarizing Yahoo Answers—Pai urged the country to understand that even if he succeeds in his plan to let ISPs strangle the rest of the internet to death, they’ll let us continue to take selfies and other stupid bullshit.

Gif source: Daily Caller

“There’s been quite a bit of conversation about my plan to restore Internet freedom,” Pai says in the cringe-inducing clip. “Here are just a few of the things you will still be able to do on the Internet after these Obama-era regulations are repealed.”

Pai then pantomimed things users will supposedly still be able to do, like being able to “gram your food,” “post photos of cute animals, like puppies,” “shop for all your Christmas presents online,” “binge watch your favorite shows,” and “stay part of your favorite fan community.”

“You can still drive memes right into the ground,” Pai added before breaking into a literal Harlem Shake segment. Astute viewers may remember that this was an intolerable meme from all the way back in 2013 which has not grown any less intolerable in the intervening four years.

Please click on the link to read the rest and watch the clips.

The LA Times editorializes: The FCC sacrifices the free and open Internet on the altar of deregulation.

In defending his proposed rollback of federal net neutrality rules, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has repeatedly said that he’s merely trying to return to the “light touch” regulation that helped make the internet what it is today.

That’s transparently false, and Pai knows it. The deregulation of AT&T, Comcast and other broadband providers that Pai and the commission’s other Republican appointees are expected to approve Thursday is a dramatic abdication of authority that could usher in an ugly new era for individuals and companies that offer content and services online, and for the people who rely on them.

It’s hard to know at this point how altered the internet will be after the dominant local providers of high-speed internet access services are freed to meddle with the traffic on their networks. But merely giving them that freedom could discourage innovation and investment online by creating potential new obstacles to start-ups and others that would compete with deep-pocketed sites and services….

The obvious problem there is that broadband providers could pick winners and losers online and stay out of trouble for it simply by disclosing that they are, in fact, prioritizing traffic for any online site or service that can afford the fee. No deception and no unfairness, but no neutrality, either. There’s also a realistic fear that broadband providers would favor their own sites and services because some are doing it already — for example, AT&T effectively exempts video streams from its DirecTV subsidiary from its wireless data caps.

Read the rest at the LA Times.

Today is also the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre.

David Frum at The Atlantic on Oct. 3, 2017: Mass Shootings Don’t Lead to Inaction—They Lead to Loosening Gun Restrictions.

“After Newtown, nothing changed, so don’t expect anything to change after Las Vegas.”

How often have you heard that said? Yet it’s not true. The five years since a gunman killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have seen one of the most intense bursts of gun legislation in U.S. history—almost all of it intended to ensure that more guns can be carried into more places.

In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, gun-rights activists assertively carried openly displayed weapons into more and more places. Many national chain stores banned weapons, but at least one—Starbucks—did not. In August 2013, gun-rights activists declared a “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” They made a special point that day of carrying weapons in Starbucks outlets nationwide, including the Starbucks in Newtown itself. (The store closed for the day to avert the demonstration.)

Since Newtown, more than two dozen states have expanded the right to carry into previously unknown places: bars, churches, schools, college campuses, and so on. The most ambitious of these laws was adopted in Georgia in April 2014. Among other provisions, it allowed guns to be carried into airports right up to the federal TSA checkpoint.

Read more at the link.

The Washington Post has an important investigative article today on the consequences of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and continues to interfere in our politics: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked.

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.

They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

“This was part of the normalization process,” one participant said. “There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president.”

It didn’t work. To this day, Trump stubbornly refuses to accept reality.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account….

U.S. officials said that a stream of intelligence from sources inside the Russian government indicates that Putin and his lieutenants regard the 2016 “active measures” campaign — as the Russians describe such covert propaganda operations — as a resounding, if incomplete, success….

…overall, U.S. officials said, the Kremlin believes it got a staggering return on an operation that by some estimates cost less than $500,000 to execute and was organized around two main objectives — destabilizing U.S. democracy and preventing Hillary Clinton, who is despised by Putin, from reaching the White House.

This is horrifying:

U.S. officials declined to discuss whether the stream of recent intelligence on Russia has been shared with Trump. Current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update — known as the president’s daily brief, or PDB — is often structured to avoid upsetting him.

Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump’s ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.

“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the PDB off the rails,” said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official.

I’ve quoted quite a bit, but it’s long piece. Please go read the whole thing at the WaPo.

Finally, a reaction from Greg Sargent: This new report confirms that Trump’s megalomania threatens our democracy.

We already know that President Trump’s narcissism and megalomania threaten our democracy in multiple ways. His intolerance of critical media scrutiny fuels his systematic campaign to delegitimize the free press. His inability to acknowledge that his own conduct led directly to the special counsel’s Russia probe fuels a deep grievance and rage over it, making it more likely that he can be goaded into trying to close the investigation down.

Now a blockbuster new Post report shows how these traits are coming together to expose our democracy to danger on another front. Just before Trump was sworn in as president, the report says, his advisers urged him to publicly acknowledge U.S. intelligence findings that Russia tried to sabotage our democracy. But Trump “became agitated,” the report notes. “He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.” [….]

As I’ve argued, we have done a poor job of accurately capturing the true nature of Trump’s position on Russian interference. It isn’t simply that Trump denies his campaign colluded with that interference. Rather, it’s that this interference never happened at allirrespective of whether any collusion with it took place. (We now know that collusion did happen; at this point the question is how serious the misconduct was.)

Though Trump has at times acknowledged that such sabotage did take place, he has mostly refused to do so. This has long appeared to reflect an inability to view discussion of Russian interference as about anythThing other than himself. To acknowledge Russian meddling can only be an acknowledgement that his victory may have reflected unsavory external factors along with his blinding greatness, and thus may have been in some sense tainted, and since in Trump’s mind that cannot be true, it also cannot be true that Russia meddled at all.

Those are the top stories today, IMHO; but there’s plenty more happening. What stories are you following?


Wednesday Reads: Thankful for this…

 

Our Lady of the Rectal Exam…bend over and say your prayers, these two fingers are miraculous!

 

I am grateful, and thankful… that in this world of despots and dictators, uh…tRump, I am able to go online and browse through Pinterest to find images from far and wide. ( Cliché I know.) As you can see, it has served me well, I mean…where else would I find so expressive an object as the one above?

Net Neutrality!

We are getting fucked! And it is not by some two fingered Madonna!

But seriously…this is not a joking matter. (I know I am going to hell for that one.)

The free world wide net is able to provide us with the power to find information at our fingertips.

Like the real historical background behind that Virgen con el Nino above…

Translated by my son:

…it is worth mentioning the Romantic carving of the Virgin and Child on the right side of the main altarpiece. Recently restored, it shows a golden polychrome with very warm colors. Maria, with a fine crown, sits seated on a throne, with a very long face and hair hidden under the toque that falls on her shoulders. The neckline of her tunic, slightly triangular, is garnet with golden stencil. Under this tunic he wears another one of darker color, which in the part of the feet shows a succession of very flat folds, under which the typical pointy shoes associate. With one hand he shows himself in an attitude of blessing while with the other he holds the Child who appears seated in the center of the lap. He blesses with his right hand, while holding the Sacred Scriptures with the other hand. He wears a white robe with vertical and horizontal folds, and wears a royal crown. The physical characteristics of both figures are very similar, highlighting the rigidity and seriousness of their faces. This size can be dated at the beginning of the thirteenth century.

 

Also it must be pointed out, that this statue happens to be from the same town (Actually, I believe it is located in the same church…) that brought you this…monstrosity: Del ‘Ecce Homo’ de Borja a la Virgen Dolorosa de Galdakao. El Correo 


Video at the link…

Yeah, remember that funny thing we all laughed at, that was shared via the web?

Botched Jesus fresco becomes surprise success | CNN Travel

 

A combination of three documents provided by the Centre de Estudios Borjanos on August 22, 2012 shows the original version of the painting Ecce Homo (L) by 19th-century painter Elias Garcia Martinez, the deteriorated version (C) and the restored version by an elderly woman in Spain. An elderly woman’s catastrophic attempt to “restore” a century-old oil painting of Christ in a Spanish church has provoked popular uproar, and amusement. Titled “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man), the original was no masterpiece, painted in two hours in 1910 by a certain Elias Garcia Martinez directly on a column in the church at Borja, northeastern Spain. The well-intentioned but ham-fisted amateur artist, in her 80s, took it upon herself to fill in the patches and paint over the original work, which depicted Christ crowned with thorns, his sorrowful gaze lifted to heaven.

 

Onward to the cartoons:

 

11/22/2017 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Charlie Daniel

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Steve Kelley

Cartoon by Steve Kelley -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Lisa Benson

Cartoon by Lisa Benson -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

11/14/2017 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 11/22/2017 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 11/21/2017 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Changing of the Guard: 11/22/2017 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - Changing of the Guard

Roy Moore Undaunted: 11/11/2017 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - Roy Moore Undaunted

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

11/17/2017 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

11/22/2017 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

Thanking Filipino World War II Veterans: 11/22/2017 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - Thanking Filipino World War II Veterans

America and the Alt Right: 11/15/2017 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - America and the Alt Right

Hey, there should also be a no Italians or dogs sign too.

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Charlie Daniel

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

Turkeys: 11/21/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Turkeys

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

11/16/2017 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

Nick Anderson cartoon: 11/20/2017 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

Impeachable: 11/21/2017 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Impeachable

11/21/2017 Cartoon by Phil Hands

Cartoon by Phil Hands -

Gop Tax Plan: 11/20/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Gop Tax Plan

Al Franken Groping: 11/17/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Al Franken Groping

 

 

Tax Reform: 11/19/2017 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Tax Reform

That was a lot of cartoons there….I think this last one is the best of ’em.

This is an open thread. What new horrors will we face today?

 


Wednesday Reads: Frozen Walls and Roads to Serfdom

52670ee6310e0a105306382376ffd643 Maid reading in a library by Edouard John Mentha

Maid reading in a library by Edouard John Mentha

Morning Y’all

Oh, it has been an exhausting few days. Denny is adjusting well, but so much more to move between the two rooms. We are also finishing off another portion of the basement, into a TV room, it is a mess.

So a quick link round up for you this morning.

A series of video commentary from Mediaite:

Stewart Rips Obama for Turning ‘Wonderful’ Bergdahl Story into ‘Catastrophe’

Stewart mocked all the clichés coming from the Obama White House and its critics, not to mention how amid all this, President Obama himself made a big show in the Rose Garden about it. But Stewart also took on Fox News for the “ugly” way they quickly pivoted to remarking on the foreignness of Bergdahl’s father’s beard, pointing out that if you gave him a bandana and a duck whistle, Fox would love him.

The Daily Show Tears into Liberal ‘Idiocy’ on Vaccines

At first, correspondent Samantha Bee was convinced it was the “right-wing nutjobs” who are the real villains here, before discovering “stage four science denial” exists in spades on the left. She attempted to contain the anti-vaccine disease as much as possible, but alas, you can’t shut down every Starbucks in New York City.

John Oliver’s Net Neutrality Clip Broke the FCC Website

John Oliver spent 13 solid minutes railing against the FCC’s new rules that could put an end to net neutrality. At the end of the segment, Oliver urged his viewers to take their complaints directly to the FCC through a new comment system the agency recently set up at fcc.gov/comments.

That URL appeared on screen behind Oliver for 40 whole seconds as he rallied the internet’s most notorious commenters to “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.” It looks like it worked.

For much of Monday, viewers who saw Oliver’s rant flocked to the FCC website comments section in such large numbers that they effectively crashed the site. This Reddit thread sums up the difficulties many people had just trying to get the page to load let alone successfully post a comment to it.

The problems were bad enough that the FCC posted two tweets apologizing for the “technical difficulties” Monday afternoon…

Look at that…there is some traction for you. Talk about a “Colbert Bump,” I think Oliver has his own “Bump” to be proud of.

Then you have this last link from Mediaite, it is like People’s Court/Judge Judy/Maury Povich/LA Law all rolled into one…Judge Tells Attorney ‘I’ll Beat Your Ass,’ Actually Does It

We love it when trashy courtroom televised dramas become real life, like yesterday in (surprise, surprise) Florida.

The background: Judge John Murphy allegedly was trying to get a public defender to waive his right to a speedy trial, and said public defender wasn’t having it. After a heated exchange, Murphy descended from “impartial judge mode” to “Mortal Kombat mode”, according to WFTV:

“You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now,” Murphy tells Weinstock. “Stop pissing me off. Just sit down.”
“You know I’m the public defender. I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my client,” Weinstock said in the video.
The judge allegedly asked Weinstock to come to the back hallway, an area where there are no cameras, which is where the fight broke out.
“If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass,” Murphy tells Weinstock before the two head out of the courtroom.

You can totally hear thuds and people awkwardly watching what we assume to be two middle-aged dudes punching the heck out of each other, as well as their relieved applause when deputies step in to break up the melee. Surprisingly, Murphy wandered back to the bench as if nothing happened, saying, “I will catch my breath eventually. Man, I’m an old man.”

Ha, “Get of my lawn!” …but better.

There was another crazy ass news story yesterday, from The Daily Beast:

The GOP Candidate In Arizona Who Changed His Name To Cesar Chavez

Scott Fistler wasn’t having any success running for office as a white Republican in Arizona. So he switched parties and changed his name to Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez is alive and running for Congress in Arizona. Or at least that’s what one white Republican wants Hispanic voters to believe.

The candidate formerly known as Scott Fistler, 38, refuses to say if he is actually Hispanic and is prone to wearing fedoras. He has spent the last two years of his life attempting to get elected as a Republican. First, he ran an unsuccessful campaign as a write-in against U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor—a Democrat. Then, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Phoenix city council.

Fistler (now Chavez) apparently took the hint that something about him was just not working for the people of Arizona, and in November petitioned a state superior court to legally change his name to that of the celebrated labor leader who died in 1993. The court granted his request for just $319.

This gets better:

Two-time GOP loser changes party to Democrat, name to Cesar Chavez for new congressional bid | Arizona Capitol Times

In his petition for a name change, Fistler wrote that he had “experienced many hardships because of my name.”

Chavez did not respond to requests for a comment, other than to email the Arizona Capitol Times to say that because of how “flooded with calls and emails” his campaign has been, he is taking a break from media queries.

“There is just simply not enough Cesar Chavez to go around,” he wrote. “We may resume questions starting May 10 [sic].”

Chavez did lay out some ground rules for media questions, should he be able to get to them. Questions must be screened, no more than five questions, no question longer than five words and Chavez will not discuss his name change, he explained in the email.

But the iconic labor leader isn’t even the only Chavez whose name is being used by the local Chavez campaign. The Chavez for Congress website is covered in photos showing demonstrators rallying for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The name “Chavez” can be seen on balloons, signs and t-shirts of activists in the photos, which have mostly been lifted from Venezuelan news reports. They’re followed by captions like “Supporters: ‘We love you Chavez’” and “Sign: Vote for Chavez 2014.”

But back to the Daily Beast article for a minute:

Chavez’s campaign website is hosted on Blogspot, and his last post was on February 5th. The blog, which includes nothing about Chavez’s political positions or credentials, features the option to have it translated into Spanish. Fistler is a German name.

According to a selectively-answered questionnaire filled out by Chavez (then-Republican and then-Fistler) in 2013 while he was running for the Phoenix city council, he is a “precinct committeeman and Disabled veteran” who has lived in Arizona for eight years and has no criminal record. His favorite book is The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and Rocky is the movie that has the most meaning for him. Fistler also listed his Twitter handle, @ScottFistler, where he goes by “SUPER MARIO.”

The questionnaire did not do much to illuminate Chavez’s political ideology.  In his opinion, the greatest untapped opportunity for economic development in Phoenix is “everything that has not been touched yet that can improve our lives.” And when it comes to protection for the LGBT community, Fistler (now Chavez) wrote,  “Phoenix does a great job.”

Most notably, his answer to a question about gun ads on bus stops can accurately be quoted as “no, because freedom.” While the answer contained additional verbiage, it maintains the same low level of intellectual content.

 

Oh yeah, and we all knew this was coming: No Drug Tests For Food Stamp Recipients, Feds Tell Georgia

But this next little news headline from Alabama is something you would think they would not have the balls to do: Bible School Uses Hitler Quote To Promote Education For Children (PHOTO)

HIETLER

Alabama-based Life-Savers Ministries (LSM) has admitted that it was probably a poor decision to select a quote from Adolf Hitler for use on a billboard supporting children’s education, reports Raw Story.

The large sign depicted a diverse group of smiling kids and incongruously declared, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future,” attributing the quote to Hitler. Hitler said the phrase in 1935 during a speech at the Reichsparteitag in order to encourage young people to join the Hitler Youth.

Below the Hitler quote was a Bible verse which said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

These fucking assholes know they can get away with a stunt like this.

Oh yeah… see, they use this same old non-apology standard:

James Anderegg, founder of LSM, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that he was taking down the sign and “certainly never intended to cause confusion.” He added, “Herbert Hoover would have been a far better one to quote when he said, ‘Children are our most valuable resource.’ We are a children’s organization and had honorable intentions and nothing less.”

Seriously. These people need to be called out for this shit.

This next link is a good read, so go give it your full attention, via The American Prospect, written by Andy Kopsa: Why You Should Be Worried About Missouri’s Extreme Abortion Bill

There is another rape scandal, this time involving an Ex-Blue Angels leader found guilty of allowing sexual harassment – Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile, Japan to start building underground ice wall at Fukushima (Update)

Japan on Monday started work on an underground ice wall at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, freezing the soil under broken reactors to slow the build-up of radioactive water, officials said.

The wall is intended to block groundwater from nearby hillsides that has been flowing under the plant and mixing with polluted water already there.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, the national watchdog, last week authorised construction of the ice wall at Fukushima Daiichi, owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO).

“We started construction of the frozen earth wall this afternoon,” a TEPCO official told a news conference in Tokyo.

The government-funded scheme will see 1,550 pipes laid deep in the soil through which refrigerant will be piped to create the 1.5-kilometre (0.9-mile) frozen wall that will stem the inflow of groundwater.

“We plan to end all the construction work in March 2015 before starting trial operations,” the company official said, adding that the ice wall could be fully operational several months after construction was completed.

The idea of freezing a section of soil, which was proposed for Fukushima last year, has previously been used to build tunnels near watercourses.

However, scientists point out that it has not been done on this scale before nor for the proposed length of time.

There is a cool graphic that explains how they are going to build this wall, and how the damn thing works…check it out.

As a medieval history major, the thought of returning to a feudal state scares the shit out of me…but look here: The road to serfdom goes through Minsk

Gazeta.ru reports (see this Financial Times post for an English account):

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko promised to sign a decree that would implement “serfdom” in Belarus villages, forbidding workers at collective farms from changing their employment or moving to town without the personal permission of high local officials….

“Yesterday, I was given a decree about, let’s speak frankly, ‘serfdom,’” stated Lukashenko.

In his own words, the decree will create tough regulation of the employee question in the agricultural sector….

In practice, what is being discussed is the rebirth in Belarus of the practice of Stalinist times, when Soviet peasants lacked internal passports and could legally leave the collective farm only in three ways — going to serve in the army, going to study in the city (with the permission of the chairman of the collective farm), or enlisting in special construction projects …. This practice was repealed in the 1960s by Nikita Khrushchev, but Alexander Lukashenko is ready to reinstate it….

“This decision at the presidential level has been ripening for a long time, and the current harvest is just the formal excuse,” said an anonymous source in the ministry of economics. “The problem is that people are simply fleeing the village. They are fleeing to local towns, to Minsk, where nearly one third of all Belarussians now live. Now three-quarters of the population of Belarus (7.275 million people) live in towns. In the villages are left only retirees and alcoholics, all the young people and the middle-aged people who are capable of work are leaving….”

Wow.  This is what the rich GOP is licking its chops for…maybe I am wrong?

Oh, and since I brought up the buttheads: Newly discovered (and already endangered) cavefish has an anus near its head | Grist

hoosier-cavefish

Scientists from Louisiana State Baton Rouge and the University of Kentucky have discovered the first new cavefish species in the U.S. in over 40 years. What sets this delightfully hideous creature apart from all of the other stunningly hideous cavefish is that it has an anus right behind its head. How’s that for putting the ick in ichthyology?

Here’s a little more about the new find, named the Hoosier Cavefish, or Amblyopsis hoosieri, from the good folks at Sci-News:

The new fish is the closest relative of Amblyopsis spelaea, a previously known cavefish from the longest cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

These two species are separated by the Ohio River, which also separates the states of Indiana and Kentucky.

They should have given a better name for this fish…perhaps a GOP Asshead? I don’t know…BB, you may get this name reference?

Undoubtedly it was someone on the University of Kentucky part of the team who picked the Hoosier moniker, probably as a tribute to famous Hoosier butt head Bobby Knight. Other names they might have considered for the shit-near-brains creature include the Really Crapie, the Bieber, and the Limbaugh Trout.

The crazy part is, we only just found these wigglers and they’re already endangered. Now that might be because they are blind, have an anus in their heads, and live in a cave — but the same could be said of their Kentucky neighbor Mitch McConnell and he seems to be doing fine. Perhaps it’s more a sign that we’re all in trouble.

Take it easy today, and have a good one!


Tuesday Reads

woman-reading-porch

Good Morning!!

I have a mixture of links for you today, with no overall theme whatsoever. There is news happening out there, but somehow it still feels like a slow news month so far. Maybe it’s just because it feels like nothing is really happening that will change the “malaise” in the country, to use Jimmy Carter’s term. The economy doesn’t really seem to be improving for 90 percent of us, and the bottleneck in Congress feels unbreakable. So here are some stories that caught my eye.

From The New York Times: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt.

A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.

Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.

The rise of the sea is likely to continue to be relatively slow for the rest of the 21st century, the scientists added, but in the more distant future it may accelerate markedly, potentially throwing society into crisis.

“This is really happening,” Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said in an interview. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”

Read details about the two studies at the NYT link. Richard B. Alley, scientist not involved in the studies noted that what’s happening in Antarctica is only one source of future climate change disasters.

He added that while a large rise of the sea may now be inevitable from West Antarctica, continued release of greenhouse gases will almost certainly make the situation worse. The heat-trapping gases could destabilize other parts of Antarctica as well as the Greenland ice sheet, potentially causing enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.

“If we have indeed lit the fuse on West Antarctica, it’s very hard to imagine putting the fuse out,” Dr. Alley said. “But there’s a bunch more fuses, and there’s a bunch more matches, and we have a decision now: Do we light those?”

So it’s not as if we actually have the rest of the century to deal with the problem. Maybe the right wing nuts should start building an ark.

Childe Hassam - Two Women Reading

From Politico: Chamber of Commerce gives ultimatum to GOP.

The GOP shouldn’t even field a presidential candidate in 2016 unless Congress passes immigration reform this year, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said Monday.

“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” Donohue joked at an event on infrastructure investment in D.C. “Think about that. Think about who the voters are. I just did that to get everybody’s attention.”

Republicans have focused on an immigration overhaul as a way to woo Hispanic voters, who have increasingly drifted to Democrats over the past two election cycles. Growing Hispanic populations in Nevada, Texas and elsewhere could make those states more amenable to Democrats in the future.

Apparently, Donohue still thinks he can light a fire under the asses of the Tea Party nuts in the House. Good luck with that.

Politico also reports that John Boehner may be tiring of the frustrating job of Speaker of the dysfunctional House of Representatives: John Boehner can’t promise another 2 years as speaker.

The Ohio Republican, speaking to a luncheon here [San Antonio, TX] sponsored by a group of local chambers of commerce, said he can’t “predict what’s going to happen” and stopped short of fully committing to serving another full two-year term.

“Listen, I’m going to be 65 years old in November,” Boehner said. “I never thought I’d live to be 60. So I’m living on borrowed time.”

It’s extraordinarily rare for Boehner to sit down for an open-ended, live interview, but he did so here with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, a mainstay of the Lone Star State’s journalism scene. He touched on issues ranging from immigration to Benghazi to his quiet campaign to persuade Jeb Bush to run for president….

Boehner’s noncommittal response about his future will reverberate from here all the way back to Capitol Hill and K Street. His future has been a topic of constant chatter among political types. Even people inside his orbit privately wonder why the Ohio Republican would want to serve another term wielding the speaker’s gavel, given the tumultuous political climate in Washington. Last week, Boehner beat back two primary opponents to ensure his House reelection.

Much more interesting Boehner news at the link.

childe-hassam-french tea garden 1910

Texas plans to execute death row prisoner Robert James Campbell today, and they aren’t the least bit concerned about the recent horrifically botched execution in Oklahoma. From the NYT: Confronted on Execution, Texas Proudly Says It Kills Efficiently.

HUNTSVILLE, Tex. — If Texas executes Robert James Campbell as planned on Tuesday, for raping and murdering a woman, it will be the nation’s first execution since Oklahoma’s bungled attempt at lethal injection two weeks ago left a convicted murderer writhing and moaning before he died.

Lawyers for Mr. Campbell are trying to use the Oklahoma debacle to stop the execution here. But many in this state and in this East Texas town north of Houston, where hundreds have been executed in the nation’s busiest death chamber, like to say they do things right.

For two years now, Texas has used a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, instead of the three-drug regimen used in neighboring Oklahoma. Prison administrators from other states often travel here to learn how Texas performs lethal injections and to observe executions. Texas officials have provided guidance and, on at least a few occasions, carried out executions for other states.

Even the protesters and television cameras that used to accompany executions here have, in most cases, dissipated. “It’s kind of business as usual,” said Tommy Oates, 62, a longtime resident who was eating lunch last week at McKenzie’s Barbeque, about one mile from the prison known as the Walls Unit. “That sounds cold, I know. But they’re not in prison for singing too loud at church.”

That’s Texas’ claim to fame now, I guess–efficient executions. Practice makes perfect.

The LA Times broke some news this morning about deceased alleged Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The paper has learned that the gun Tsarnaev use in a shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts a few days after the Marathon bombing was linked to a drug gang in Portland, Maine. 

When police confronted Tamerlan Tsarnaev four nights after the Boston Marathon bombing last year, he leaped from his car with a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and opened fire….

The tale of that handgun, a black Ruger P95, Serial Number 317-87693, offers new insights into the Boston tragedy and holds warnings of other potential dangers.

Its journey from a street gang that peddled crack cocaine in Portland, Maine, to the grisly shootout in a Boston suburb tells much about illicit drug and gun trafficking in New England, and perhaps more about Tsarnaev.

Authorities believe Tsarnaev’s ties to the illicit drug trade in Maine helped finance his six-month trip to the southern Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan in early 2012, where he became radicalized. Drug money, they say, also may have helped him buy components of the bomb that killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15, 2013.

The Times learned about this from records “obtained” from the Justice Department records. The gun had originally been purchased legally by an LA man named Danny Sun, Jr. living in Portland, Maine. It’s not clear exactly how Tsarnaev got the gun, but the serial numbers had been fined down. Police were able to “raise” the serial number using with “forensic techniques.”

Curiouser and curiouser. Last June, I wrote a post in which I argued for a drug connection to the Tsarnaev brothers and a horrific September 11, 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts; but I suspected a connection with an international drug ring centered in Watertown, Waltham, and Newton. I have continued following this story closely for the past year. Now this. I don’t know what to think. I only know that this background of the Boston Marathon bombings is incredibly complex and mysterious.

woman-reading Childe Hassam 1885

I don’t know how many people have been following the latest discussions about net neutrality. This is going to be an important week in the fight between internet users and the Cable giants. Here’s the latest  from Radio survivor: FCC Chair Wheeler Shuffles Open Internet Deck Ahead of Meeting.

This is a tough week to be Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC. This Thursday he has an open meeting where he plans to present his Open Internet proposal to the full Commission. As details have come to light a very broad coalition of companies, organizations and legislators–from 150 tech firms like Netflix and Google to the ACLU and NOW–have expressed strong criticisms of it.

At issue are proposed rules that would permit some companies to pay internet service providers for a so-called fast-lane into consumers’ homes. No matter how much Wheeler has tried to assure everyone that the Commission will seriously police for instances where an ISP degrades content from competitors or sources that haven’t paid for an express lane, critics remain unconvinced. That’s because Wheeler’s proposed standard says “commercially reasonable” discrimination of internet traffic is OK, but “commercially reasonable” is a vague and ill-defined standard that seems to have loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.

Because of the backlash even two of his fellow Commissioners, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai, have called for a delay of Thursdays vote on the proposal. There is no indication that Wheeler is heeding their call.

Wheeler is actually talking about regulating the internet like a “common carrier,” like it does phone companies. In other words, internet provider would be treated like public utilities. I’m not holding my breath though. From Politico: Tom Wheeler scrambles to salvage net neutrality plan.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is on the clock and scrambling to salvage his controversial net neutrality plan as the commission counts down to a crucial vote on Thursday.

According to FCC officials, he circulated his latest revisions Monday — trying to pick up the two votes he needs to pass the notice of proposed rule-making to ensure an open Internet.

In the most significant change, Wheeler will seek public comment on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a communications utility, giving the agency authority to regulate Internet rates and services as it does with telephone companies, according to commission officials. Net neutrality advocates favor that option as more robust, but it’s opposed by telecoms that fear it will give the government too much power over their business.

Wheeler’s original plan sparked outrage after details emerged that it would allow Internet-service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, to charge companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google for faster delivery of content. The revised proposal keeps that basic approach but would seek comment on whether a “fast lane” should be banned. It also proposes a new ombudsman position at the FCC to act as a net neutrality advocate for startups and consumers.

So the “fast lane” is still included in the plan. I can’t see how that would be a benefit to ordinary internet users. I guess we should enjoy what we have for now, because the internet as we know it is in serious danger. This is an important story!

So . . . those are my offerings for today. What are you reading and blogging about?

 


Thursday Reads: Obama and CBC, Judging Protesters, Net Neutrality, SCOTUS, and Sly Stone

Good Morning!! Let’s start out with a little fire and brimstone. Glen Ford had a rousing rant at the Black Agenda Report about Obama’s disgusting treatment of the CBC last weekend. Here’s just a sample:

…in the same week that he bowed down to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the assembled nations of the world, in New York City, Obama took his church voice to the Congressional Black Caucus annual awards dinner to very pointedly demand that Blacks stop bugging their president about the economic catastrophe that has befallen them, and his own role in it. “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” Obama hectored. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

Black Caucus chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver had earlier told reporters, “If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this [Black unemployment] problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.” But Obama came to lay down the law: any marching that you might do will be for my re-election.

The well-oiled crowd cheered….

The Black Caucus, as a body, meekly murmured and mumbled as the administration transferred the equivalent of the U.S. gross domestic product to the banks while Black America disintegrated. Now, with Obama’s numbers falling, he has very publicly commanded them to shut up and perform what he believes is their only legitimate function: to get him re-elected. In the looming contest, he will again resort to Black-baiting whenever it is useful to shore up white support. In that – as with his foreign and domestic policies – Obama is no different than white corporate politicians. His one great distinction, is to have a core constituency that cares more for his security and dignity, than their own.

Sad but true.

In yesterday’s morning post, Minx highlighted the way so many “progressives” are criticizing Occupy Wall Street for all kinds of irrelevant reasons. Glenn Greenwald wrote a very good piece about it: What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? But I especially liked Kevin Gosztola’s piece at FDL.

Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’s report in the New York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “half-naked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’ behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park.

Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.

The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountability-seeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a cross-section of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.”

First off, nobody in the last week can claim to be reporting on Occupy Wall Street and genuinely claim it isn’t gaining traction. Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, so-called members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be all-inclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation.

Gosztola is a young guy who replaced Emptywheel after she left FDL. He focuses on human rights issues, and he does a nice job.

It’s interesting that the progs keep comparing the Occupy Wall Street protesters to those in Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, claiming that protesters should wear suits! Obviously these “very serious” yuppie bloggers don’t recall the ’60s anti-war movement. I can just imagine their shock at some of the outfits we wore in those days.

The New York Times published an odd interpretation of the world-wide protest phenomenon that minimized demonstrations: As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe, by Nicholas Kulish. Kulish explains the protests as disillusionment with voting. And why shouldn’t we all be turned off by voting when it gets us nothing but a bunch of corrupt, greedy a$$holes who stab taxpayers in the back repeatedly and suck up to the top 1%?

Not surprisingly, there is only one reference to the anti-Wall Street protests, and the organizers, Occupy Wall Street aren’t mentioned at all. Also not mentioned are the supportive protests beginning in other U.S. cities. And Kulish never mentioned Wisconsin at all!

Last week the FCC announced new net neutrality rules, and now lawsuits from both sides of the issue are starting.

Verizon and Metro PCS, both wireless carriers, had already made clear their intention to sue and were widely expected to be the first to do so. Instead, they were beaten to court by the activist group Free Press—one of the strongest supporters of network neutrality.

Free Press has asked a federal appeals court to review the FCC’s rules—not because it finds them too strong, but because it finds them too weak. The group particularly objects to the way in which wireless companies are exempted from most of the meaningful anti-discrimination policies in the rules. While wireless operators can’t block Internet sites outright, and can’t simply ban apps that compete with their own services, they can do just about anything else; wired operators can’t.

Free Press complains about the “decision to adopt one set of rules for broadband access via mobile platforms and a different set of rules for broadband access via fixed platforms.” The distinction, it says, is “arbitrary and capricious” and it violates the law.

In a statement, Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, “Our challenge will show that there is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access. The disparity that the FCC’s rules create is unjust and unjustified. And it’s especially problematic because of the increasing popularity of wireless, along with its increasing importance for younger demographics and diverse populations who rely on mobile devices as their primary means for getting online.

Here is a summary of the final FCC rules, from Connected Planet:

The FCC highlighted a total of four rules, which specify that:

— A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choice regarding use of such services and for content, application, service and device providers to develop, market and maintain Internet offerings

— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

— A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service . . . shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service.

— A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network management.

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I’m sure you’ve heard that the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the health care law ASAP. Dalia Lithwick at Slate had an interesting article on the case: The Supreme Court is less interested in ruling on Obama’s health care law than you think.

Apparently the Obama administration believes that 2012 will not be crazy enough already. That would explain why it has decided not to appeal a ruling from a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the individual mandate at the heart of its health reform law. Instead of asking the full, 11-member court to hear the case, the administration has voluntarily cleared the path toward the Supreme Court as early as this spring. That means there could be a ruling by the end of June, just a few months before the election.

Right now the individual mandate has been upheld, by a 2-1 margin by the Sixth Circuit and struck down 2-1 at the 11th Circuit, while the Virginia lawsuit challenging the act was dismissed on procedural grounds at the Fourth Circuit. This split between the federal appeals courts almost demands that the high court agree to hear the case, as does the fact that it’s the Justice Department filing the appeal.

Lithwick discusses the opinions of other writers on why the administration is doing this now. Then she offers her own assessment:

I remain unsure that there just are five justices at the high court eager to have the court itself become an election-year issue. I don’t think Chief Justice John Roberts wants to borrow that kind of partisan trouble again so soon after Citizens United, the campaign-finance case that turned into an Obama talking point. And I am not certain that the short-term gain of striking down some or part of the ACA (embarrassing President Obama even to the point of affecting the election) is the kind of judicial end-game this court really cares about. Certainly there are one or two justices who might see striking down the ACA as a historic blow for freedom. But the long game at the court is measured in decades of slow doctrinal progress—as witnessed in the fight over handguns and the Second Amendment—and not in reviving the stalled federalism revolution just to score a point.

That’s why I suspect that even if there are five justices who believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional, there probably aren’t five votes to decide that question in this instant. Lyle Denniston over at Scotusblog reminds us that the court has a lot of options to forestall a showdown with the president. If the justices opt to consider the technical question raised at the Fourth Circuit—about who has legal standing to challenge the mandate in the first place—the court could dodge the constitutional question altogether until 2015, when the first penalties will be paid. It’s not so much a matter of the court having to decide whether to bring a gavel to a knife fight. It’s just that this isn’t really this court’s knife fight in the first place.

Roman Polanski is back in the news, because he supposedly “apologized” to the woman he raped when she was only 13.

In a documentary about his life, the Oscar-winning director, 78, admitted Samantha Geimer had been left scarred by his exploitation three decades ago. The Polish-French film maker publicly apologised for the first time for his “mistakes” that included the sexual attack on Mrs Geimer, now 47.

The director of Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown admitted she was a “double victim” after being caught up in the subsequent media storm, forcing her to move to Hawaii for privacy.

The married mother-of-three successfully sued him and accepted a private apology in 2009, saying she had been left more traumatised by ensuing legal battles to bring him to justice than the assault itself.

Finally, here’s another celebrity story: According to the New York Post, 1960s rock star Sly Stone is homeless, living in a van in L.A.

Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.

Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer.

“I like my small camper,” he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.”

It’s a pretty nice van, BTW. But the LA Times says if Stone is homeless, it’s his own choice.

If Sly Stone is homeless, it’s by choice and not necessity, according to sources close to the funk legend.

Stone’s attorney Robert Alan has supposedly rented a four-bedroom home in Woodland Hills for his client, one unnamed source told Showbiz411 exclusively. “He’s too paranoid to come inside,” another source told writer Roger Friedman. That person was described as a friend of the singer.

Though Alan wouldn’t comment on the rental house, Friedman said, the lawyer confirmed that Sly Stone documentarian Willem Alkema had paid the singer $5,000 upfront for a recent interview. (An additional $2,000, source unknown, was reportedly paid when the story was picked up.) Alkema, whom Friedman says is trying relaunch his documentary and could benefit from the publicity, co-wrote Sunday’s “Sly Stone Is Homeless and Living in a Van” article for the New York Post.

That’s not to say Stone hadn’t admitted struggling with drugs, nor that he isn’t in financial trouble of the maybe-a-$50-million-lawsuit-will-fix-it variety — he sued former manager Jerry Goldstein in early 2010, alleging fraud and the diversion of $20 million to $30 million in royalties.

I’m just glad to know that Sly is still with us. What a great band he had. I remember seeing Sly and the Family Stone at an outdoor concert at Harvard Stadium–I think it was in 1969. It was fabulous! So in honor of Sly and nostalgia…

So…. what are you reading and blogging about today?


Thursday Reads: Crazy Republicans, Nuclear Meltdowns, MLB Follies, and More

Good Morning!!

According to Politico, Republicans are escalating their game of chicken with demands they want met before they agree to raise the debt limit.

One day after being named to a presidential task force to negotiate deficit reduction, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired off a stark warning to Democrats that the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms.

The Virginia Republican’s missive is a clear escalation in the long-running Washington spending war, with no less than the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance.

Wait a minute…Obama put ERIC CANTOR on a deficit task force??!! Okay, the joke’s over. This guy cannot legitimately run on a Democratic ticket in 2012.

Cantor says he’s ready to plunge the nation into default if the GOP’s demands are not met. People close to Cantor say that he hopes to make clear that small concessions from Democrats, including President Barack Obama, will not be enough to deliver the GOP on a debt increase….

Republicans are floating a wide range of major structural reforms that could be attached to the debt limit vote, including statutory spending caps, a balanced budget amendment and a two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases and debt limit increases.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has finally admitted that nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 has melted. From reading the article, it isn’t exactly clear what has happened, but I still detect efforts to minimize the damage. There’s a little more detail in an article from the Irish Times:

The head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, said yesterday that fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of their containment vessels, confirming fears that the plant suffered a partial meltdown after last month’s huge earthquake and tsunami.

Engineers have been struggling since to bring four reactors under control by pouring water onto overheating nuclear fuel, and that water is highly contaminated as a result. Mr Sawada warned the condition of the plant could worsen if another strong quake knocks out power to its cooling systems.

“That would destabilise pressure and temperatures inside the reactors and the situation would become extremely unpredictable again,” he said.

The story also says that there was an aftershock yesterday centered around 25 miles from the plant.

All the news outlets are covering the BP oil gusher and the damage it has done to the Gulf, because yesterday was the anniversary of the explosion that killed 11 oil rig workers. Don’t worry, they’ll drop the subject like a hot potato in a couple of days. Here’s an article from the NYT.

Even in the worst days of the BP spill, coastal advocates were looking past the immediate emergency to what the president’s oil spill commission called “the central question from the recovery of the spill — can or should such a major pollution event steer political energy, human resources and funding into solutions for a continuing systemic tragedy?”

That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago. Few here would take issue with the commission’s question, but the answer to it is far from resolved.

Eclipsed by the spill’s uncertain environmental impact is the other fallout: the vast sums in penalties and fines BP will have to pay to the federal government. In addition to criminal fines and restitution, BP is facing civil liabilities that fall roughly into two categories: Clean Water Act penalties and claims from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, whereby state and federal agencies tally the damage caused by the spill and put a price tag on it. This could add up to billions, perhaps tens of billions, of dollars.

Awwww, gee. Poor BP. It sounds like the writer feels sorry for them.

In Wisconsin, JoAnne Kloppenburg has asked for a recount in the race for the state supreme court.

JoAnne Kloppenburg arrived at the state Government Accountability Board’s office in Madison barely an hour before the 5 p.m. local time deadline by which she had to ask for a recount or concede defeat. According to the vote count finalized by the state last week, she trails Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast in the April 5 election.

“Today, my campaign is asking the Government Accountability Board to conduct a statewide recount,” Kloppenburg said at a news conference. The announcement was met with applause and cheers of “thank you.” She’s requesting the recount “in part to determine what the proper outcome of the election will be and to ensure that elections form this point forward will be fair.

“I do not make this decision lightly … I have weighed the options and I have considered the facts,” Kloppenburg, currently an assistant state attorney general, said. The tight margin — small enough to trigger a provision allowing the state to pay for the recount process — means that “the importance of every vote is magnified and doubts about every vote are magnified as well,” she said.

And in silly Republican news, eight Wisconsin doctorswho wrote excuses for protesting teachers are being investigated.

The state Department of Regulation and Licensing and the Medical Examining Board said Wednesday that they had opened investigations into eight individuals who allegedly wrote doctor excuse notes for protesters at the state Capitol during rallies in February.

Last month, the Department of Regulation and Licensing said it had identified 11 people who may have provided the medical excuses, and it asked them to submit information about their activities at the Capitol.

Three members of the Medical Examining Board reviewed the information and decided to open investigations on eight of the 11, according to a department news release.

The eight being investigated are all licensed physicians, department spokesman David Carlson said.

Are Wisconsin taxpayers going to have to pay for this silliness? How ridiculous.

As a Kindle owner, I’m excited about this news. Amazon’s Kindle Will Offer E-Books From Libraries

Bookworms who own Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Kindle electronic reader will finally be able to borrow digital books from public libraries….

The move is likely to have major repercussions for public libraries and the digital-reading market generally, since Amazon currently dominates the e-book industry and its actions in the space are closely watched. There are an estimated 7.5 million Kindles in the U.S., which gives Amazon a two-thirds share of the $1 billion digital-book market, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.

Many major public libraries, including those in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, offer free digital-book lending. A physical trip to the library isn’t required. Instead, library-card holders can download books from library websites. Each library sets its own digital-book lending policy, but typical lending periods are 14 or 21 days.

Major League Baseball has seized the LA Dodgers and will now control day-to-day operations for the team. Owner Frank McCourt is having financial problems.

The move was prompted by a number of issues surrounding the Dodgers, including owner Frank McCourt’s recent receipt of $30-million personal loan to meet payroll and the parking-lot attack at Dodger Stadium on March 31 that left a San Francisco Giants fan in a coma, according to a league source.

“This has been like watching a soap opera unfold,” said Gary Toebben, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want a financially solvent Dodgers. We want a winning team.”

The league will now have approval rights over every significant expenditure by the team, including a trade or contract extension. This will likely put the franchise on the path to being sold.

The commissioner’s move adds to the turmoil surrounding a team already embroiled in divorce proceedings between McCourt and his wife, Jamie, who is seeking joint ownership.

McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox back when the the former owner died. Thank goodness he didn’t succeed in buying the team–they probably never would have beat the curse and won the World Series twice.

Some nutty right wing talk show host says the Bible forbids net neutrality.

The idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally is against the teachings of the Bible and America’s Founding Fathers, according to evangelical Christian minister and political activist David Barton.

During his radio show on Tuesday, he said that net neutrality violated the Biblical principle of free markets, a principle upheld by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

“That is part of the reason we have prosperity,” Barton said. “This is what the Pilgrims brought in, the Puritans brought in, this is free market mentality. Net neutrality sounds really good, but it is socialism on the Internet.”

“This is really, I’m going to use the word wicked stuff, and I don’t use that word very often, but this is wicked stuff,” he added.

Well that settles it then!

Monday was the 40th anniversary of Charles Manson’s conviction, so some media types decided to give him an opportunity to spout a bunch on nonsense. Manson’s new lawyer has asked the president to let the maniac out of prison, but Manson ruined his chances by giving his honest opinion of Obama.

Manson, 76, called Obama foolish in reference to Wall Street, saying he considered the president “a slave of Wall Street.”

“He doesn’t realize what they are doing. They are playing with him,” he said, according to the magazine.

Bla, bla, bla … so what else is new?


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