Monday Reads: Shocking Times

gettyimages-6329290101Good Afternoon!

It’s difficult to try to make sense of the last 10 days using any normal construct. Just the fact we’ve seen enormous international protests come together across the world nearly spontaneously with more in the works tells me these are not normal times. We’re two Mondays into the Drumpfocracy and this is my second Monday writing about massive protests. Chaos and division are resplendent throughout the Drumpfdom.

A friend and Dharma sister sent me a quote from historian and Boston College Professor Heather Cox Richardson today describing the Muslim Executive Order as a planned “shock event” staged by Steve Bannon.   The purpose of this event is to basically “create confusion and chaos so that the administration can present itself as the only entity capable of restoring order” as paraphrased by blogger JohnFEA. Cox Richardson writes:

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

She’s already landed herself on the Fifth Column style website called “The Professor Watchlist”.donald-trump-airport-3

Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, has also found herself in the database. In an article on Bill Moyers’s website she objected to the crudeness of the Professor Watchlist project. She said she does not publicly identify with any political party and believes “American democracy is the form of government that comes closest to bringing that principle to reality.”

She’s written a recent book “To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party”.  She was interviewed by WBUR in the fall on the party and its rank and file.  There’s a podcast of that interview here.  I particularly like her description of the purge of the party in the party that was a direct result of right wing christianists and so-called “movement conservatives”.

…When [Movement conservatives] took over the Republican Party and got rid of the traditional Rockefeller Republicans, if you will, Lincoln Republicans. When they read them out of the party, what they did is they wedded the party’s machinery to this quite extremist idea that most Americans don’t really believe. The moment we’re in now, that movement conservative ideology has led to the Ted Cruzes and the Paul Ryans, yes, but what it’s done is it created the demographic that feeds the white-nationalists — the hatred that most Americans don’t really embrace.”

643xnxd78eaca58c08b4c63082d05d9b2f54a4-protest-jpg-pagespeed-ic-9pscitf6-zOne of my friends noted that she was called a “Muslim-loving whore” this weekend.  The entire debacle is certainly dividing us and creating massive chaos. I pity any one who has got a flight to take. The airports are alive with protests.  Town and City Squares are alive with protest.  We can’t seem to protest enough these days.

An executive order referred to widely among protesters as a “Muslim ban” on immigration travel has led to thousands of people protesting all over the country. The protests began on Saturday and are continuing today. At the source of the controversy is President Donald Trump’s latest executive order, which temporarily blocks 130 million people from entering the United States. The order itself never explicitly uses the word “Muslim.” What it does is temporarily ban citizens of Iraq and six other Muslim-major countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen) from entering the United States. (Syrian immigration was indefinitely suspended.) Comments from Trump to media about expediting immigration for Christians sparked additional controversy, but those comments weren’t actually in his executive order. Federal judge Ann Donnelly granted an emergency stay of the executive order. Meanwhile, Trump said the ban was put in place to review the vetting process and protect the United States from radical Islamic terrorists. But protesters are disagreeing vehemently with the ban. Some of the people who were were originally detained have since been released.

Merkel took upon herself as the evident new leader of the Free World to explain that the US is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.  She also had to tell him about the document and its purpose.  What kind of idiot did these people elect?  What have these bigoted crazy people done to us?

Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.

“The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.

“The … refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

We’re an international pariah state like never before.  I don’t think it was even worse during the Nixon years when I traveled during the height of the Vietnam War and did everything I could while in Europe to convince people I was not an American.

What appears to be most disturbing is that the Executive Branch has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the ban regardless of the stays by four separate judges. Many airport security personal have blocked lawyers and congressman from seeing detainees. This has seriously breached rule of law here.

Demonstrators shout slogans during anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protests outside Terminal 4 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

Demonstrators shout slogans during anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protests outside Terminal 4 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

Here’s Trump’s latest Executive Order: “Trump signs executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked”.  How the fuck does that work?

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday morning requiring that for every new federal regulation implemented, two must be rescinded.

“This will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen,” Trump declared moments before signing it inside the Oval Office. “There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be a normalized control where you can open your business and expand your business very easily. And that’s what our country has been all about.”

The executive order signing, which fills a campaign pledge, comes after the president held a listening session with small-business leaders.

“If you have a regulation you want, number one, we’re not gonna approve it because it’s already been approved probably in 17 different forms,” Trump said. “But if we do, the only way you have a chance is we have to knock out two regulations for every new regulation. So if there’s a new regulation, they have to knock out two.”

The White House has yet to release text of the executive order, but the president added that “it goes far beyond that.”

“We’re cutting regulations massively for small business — and for large business,” he said. “But they’re different. But for small business, and that’s what this is about today.”

The word “shock” is used a lot in both economic and finance models.  It’s best described by Taleb Nassem as a “black swan”.  It suddenly disrupts normal market behavior–and depending on how severe it is–can cause problems for some time. It’s like a variety of rocks thrown into water that create ripples.  This is like a hail storm of rocks falling on everything around us.

Here’s another ripple that amazes me: “US Diplomats Consider Filing Dissent Over Immigration Ban”.  The White House considers the move to be highly successful.

Dozens of foreign service officers and other career diplomats stationed around the world are so concerned about President Donald Trump‘s new executive order restricting Syrian refugees and other immigrants from entering the United States that they are contemplating taking the rare step of sending a formal objection to senior State Department officials in Washington.

In recent days, drafts of a dissent memo have been circulating among diplomats and associates abroad expressing concern that the new restrictions — which Trump said would help “keep America safe” — are un-American and will actually paralyze efforts to stop terrorist attacks inside the U.S. homeland.

“This ban … will not achieve its stated aim to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” warned one early draft reviewed by ABC News.

Instead, the executive order will expand anti-American sentiment and “immediately sour relations” with key allies in the fight against terrorism, particularly many of the countries whose citizens are now blocked from traveling to the United States, according to the early draft.

My friend David Ferguson is writing about the other shocking news that’s disturbing both Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. “Democrats and Republicans can’t believe Trump put ‘Nazi’ Steve Bannon on National Security Council”.  The Muslim ban nearly seems a sideshow to this one which could be the purpose of it all.

On Saturday, Pres. Donald Trump announced that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the national director of intelligence will no longer be included in all meetings of the National Security Council (NSC)’s principals committee. However, the president’s order said, former Breitbart.com CEO Stephen K. Bannon will be attending every meeting alongside the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and some of the highest ranking officers in the nation’s security and intelligence services.

“Chairman of Joint Chiefs and DNI treated as afterthoughts in Cabinet level principals meetings. And where is CIA?? Cut out of everything?” wrote former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.

“This is stone cold crazy,” Rice continued. “After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?”

“Trump loves and trusts the military so much he just kicked them out of the National Security Council and put a Nazi in their place,” she said.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded by complaining about Rice’s tone, which he said was “clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador.”

nintchdbpict000297903397-e1485729690124These are dangerous, chaotic times and it’s all been brought on by people that are “stone cold crazy.”  Democrats on the Hill are planning a rally in front of the SCOTUS building.

Democratic lawmakers will host a rally on Monday evening at the Supreme Court to protest President Donald Trump’s recent executive order imposing a temporary ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.

“Tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., House and Senate Democrats will gather for a press event in front of the steps of the Supreme Court to demand the President withdraw his disreputable executive order. All Members are urged to come to express our solidarity,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House.

Trump on Friday signed an order that imposed a 90-day ban on nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen entering the United States. The order also included a 120-day ban on admitting refugees and an indefinite halt on admitting refugees from Syria, which has been embattled in a civil war since 2011.

“We are witnessing an historic injustice unfold, and we must keep the pressure on,” Pelosi said in the letter.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday saidDemocrats are considering legislation to overturn Trump’s order, but will need Republicans to be on board.

“If we get a few more Republicans, I think we might be able to pass legislation to overturn it,” Schumer said Sunday at press conference in his home state. “It will be up to getting more Republicans.”

Pelosi, in the letter, echoes several of her colleagues by saying the order constitutes “a Muslim ban.”

“As Members of Congress, we take a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Democrats intend to honor that oath by fighting the unconstitutional injustice of the President’s Muslim ban.”

Now let’s hear how they are going to stop this mess.  They better get a few republicans besides Lindsay Graham and John McCain to go rogue and stick with the Constitution over the mad king too.

What would Mary Richards do? Given that most of the lawyers do pro bono work at the airports are women, I say she’d take to the air waves and stand up for what’s right!!!  The Boston Judge who issued the first stay is a woman too!  

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

 


Thursday Reads: Happy New Year!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015

Good Morning!!

New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

Berlin 2015

Berlin 2015

 

Hong Kong 2015

Hong Kong 2015

 

London 2015

London 2015

 

Moscow 2015

Moscow 2015

 

New York 2015

New York 2015

 

Paris 2015

Paris 2015

 

Rome

Rome

 

Tokyo

Tokyo

 

The Latest News

Sadly, the New Year’s celebration in Shanghai was marred by a terrible tragedy.

From Xinhuanet, China:

SHANGHAI, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — The death toll of a fatal stampede during New Year celebrations late Wednesday in Shanghai rose to 36 as of Thursday afternoon, local authorities said.

Seven injured have checked out of hospital. Among the 40 injured being treated in local hosptals, 13 are suffering from serious injuries, the municipal government said.

The tragedy happened at a crowded square in Shanghai’s gleaming Bund area at around 11:35 p.m. There were 25 women among the deceased whose ages ranged from 16 to 36, said the authorities of Shanghai, a metropolis that is home to a population of over 23 million….

Survivors described the stampede as “horrific and hellish.”

Some said they were standing on the steps adjoining the major road and the sightseeing platform when the deadly incident happened.

“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up,” said a witness who gave her surname as Yin. “We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming. Then people started to fall down, row by row.”

The woman said she covered two kids in front of her with her arms in the chaos. Her son followed her.

“When we brought him out of the crowd, his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding,” said the mother.

Dirty shoe prints covered her son’s clothes when the 12-year-old boy came to safety.

“The crowd was in a panic. We stood in the crowd, feeling squeezed and almost out of breath,” another witness, surnamed Yu, said. “Some yelled for help, but the noise was too loud.”

Other survivors said police rushed to the scene and tried to pull out people who were stuck, but without much success.

“The chaos lasted several minutes, then some of the injured were seen being carried out of the crowd,” Yu said.

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year's Day (Reuters)

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year’s Day (Reuters)

From the Independent, China New Year’s Eve crush: At least 36 killed and 47 injured in Shanghai stampede.

State media and witnesses have said the incident at Chen Yi Square was at least partly caused when people scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were being thrown out of the window of a bar on the third floor of a building overlooking the Bund.

A man who brought one of the injured to a local hospital said the fake money had been thrown down from the bar as part of New Year’ Eve celebrations, which he claims triggered the stampede. But Shanghai police could not confirm the cause of the tragedy and have asked people to be patient, according to state television.

Many of the dead and injured were students, and 28 of the dead were women, state media reported.

The trouble is believed to have broken out about half an hour before midnight. Pictures published by Xinhua and on social media outlets showed several people lying on the floor with rescuers attempting to revive the injured as police tried to restore order.

In Boston, protesters staged a “die-in” at the beginning of First Night festivities.

BOSTON (WHDH) –As Boston’s First Night activities began Wednesday afternoon, so did demonstrations by people protesting racism and police brutality.

The protesters started gathering at 2:30 p.m. on the steps of Boston Public Library.

Protesters said they heard calls from Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans asking them not to disrupt the family event.

But, they said, the protests aren’t a disruption. They are just an extension of the other family events around the city.

“When kids see people dying in in the middle of the square maybe they’ll ask their parents ‘why is America like this?’” Martin Henson said.

“When the police officers respect black lives and respect us, and we don’t get killed because things are happening because we have children and we have brothers and sisters, that’s when this will stop,” Courtney Hambrick said.

A die-in happened in Copley Square right in front of the library at 5 p.m. Nearly 100 protesters participated while a large crowd gathered to watch.

See tweets and more photos from the protest at Boston.com.

In St. Louis, Protesters present[ed an] “Eviction Notice” to St. Louis Police.

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A group of approximately 75 marched throughout downtown St. Louis Wednesday before gathering outside of Police Headquarters.

The protesters posted an “Eviction Notice” on the door of the headquarters which listed reasons that “Chief Sam Dotson and all other occupiers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department” would be “removed from power.”

News 4’s Russell Kinsaul was at the headquarters and said there was a line of police officers outside the front door preventing people from entering the building. He said the officers used pepper spray when the protesters attempted to enter the building.

Protesters said they would be at the headquarters for about four hours to represent the hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street.

blog_nypd_patch

According to The Daily Beast, NYPD officers are staging their own protest against public criticism of police officers shooting and killing black men: Ground Zero of the NYPD Slowdown.

The end of 2014 in New York City has felt like the end of days. The last week of the year was marked by strained relations between Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the rank and file of the NYPD following the shooting of two officers: Rafael Ramos and Wejian Liu, shootings blamed by President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, on the Mayor’s response to the Eric Garner protests.

In the wake of this turmoil, the New York Post reported that the police had stopped policing. In the week starting Dec. 22, arrests were down 66 percentcompared to the same week in 2013. According to the Post, citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587. Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination fell 94 percent—from 4,831 to 300. And drug arrests dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

The numbers reinforce another article in the Post, in which cops confessed to “turning a blind eye” to minor crimes. An NYPD supervisor told the Post, “My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to—like when a store catches a shoplifter.” In the later article, the Postquotes the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which warned its members to put their safety first and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

On Wednesday afternoon in the predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, many had noticed the police slowdown. A car mechanic who goes by the name “Big Perm” said he noticed a change in the neighborhood. “They just walk around, they ride in their patrol cars, and they just pass by,” he said. He does not approve of the police slow down, like most people I spoke to. Big Perm worries that the lack of policing the “small fry” will lead to more crimes by “big fry.” In the meantime, he is keeping his children at home.

A young man who wouldn’t give his name also noticed the police slowdown over the past week in a neighborhood he says is usually teeming with police activity. “I see the streets are different, they have a different look to them. I’m not seeing the police like I usually see them,” he said. But he said the streets are calmer, too. “More police makes it crazy. If they see me and my friend having a conversation, and my cousin comes down the street, it’s a problem. I just try to keep out their way most of the time.”

David Duke campaigning in 1991

David Duke campaigning in 1991

The Steve Scalise story is still in the news, but it doesn’t appear that The Louisiana Congressman will be resigning his Majority Whip post anytime soon. Perhaps that is because, as the New York Times reports, David Duke’s ideas now represent mainstream attitudes in the Republican Party.

From NPR: 6 Reasons Steve Scalise Will Survive His Speech Scandal.

Unless further evidence emerges of liaisons with the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, Scalise will take his oath next week for the 114th Congress as the No. 3 leader of the chamber’s GOP — the party’s largest majority since 1928.

That was the message tucked into the bouquet of supporting statements Scalise received Tuesday from Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other prominent Republicans….

Scolded and scalded, Scalise was still standing.

Suffice it to say that the whip’s protestations of innocence about EURO and its views have strained credulity, both in Washington and in Louisiana. EURO was co-founded in the 1990s by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and American Nazi. Duke at that time had run for governor and for the U.S. Senate as an insurgent Republican, doing well enough in both cases to distress the national GOP and attract news attention from around the world.

That’s pretty shocking, but I guess it shouldn’t be. Republicans have become the party of ignorance, racism, sexism, and nativism.

North Jersey.com notes that the Republican record on race has become so awful that Scalise actually suggested that speaking to David Duke’s was no different than talking to the League of Women Voters.

A WHITE supremacist organization is not akin to the League of Women Voters. That should be obvious to anyone, let alone the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. But it was not to Steve Scalise of Louisiana back in 2002 or even this week.

The House majority whip is dealing with the backlash over the revelation that in 2002 he addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, an organization founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Scalise claims he had no idea about the group’s ideology; he was a state politician at the time, understaffed, and he would talk to anyone about tax policy.

While that is hard to accept, given the very high profile of Duke in Louisiana, even if taken at face value, the congressman’s comments to the Times-Picayune earlier this week, when he tried to defend himself, show a lack of understanding about racial divisions in the United States.

“I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group. … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling,” he offered in his defense. The League of Women Voters wants citizens to get out and vote; in what definition of “democracy” does encouraging voter participation become “pretty liberal”?

The League of Women Voters is completely nonpartisan and welcomes both Republican and Democrats to its membership.

Tom Brady

How valuable is Tom Brady to the New England Patriots? The Sporting News reports: Tom Brady takes one for the team, helps Patriots remain perennial contenders.

On Sunday, Tom Brady earned $24 million in future contract guarantees with the Patriots. On Monday he volunteered to eliminate those guarantees in return for an extra $1 million in salary each year to help his team pay for players in free agency.

The reason for the contract restructure is to allow the Patriots to avoid having to place his $24 million in salary, which would be earned from 2015 through 2017, in escrow early in the the 2015 League Year. Salary that is guaranteed at the start of the year for skill must be funded in entirety by the team, meaning the Patriots would have had to set aside $24 million for future payments. Once those skill guarantees are eliminated so is the need to set aside the money in advance. This is a common reason teams use vesting guarantees when signing a contract.

Brady has been a dream come true for the Patriots and their ability to remain competitive, not just on the field but off it. Brady’s $8 million salary and $14 million cap charge in 2015 rank just 17th in the NFL. Meanwhile his closest contemporaries of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tony Romo will carry cap charges of $21.5, $26.4, and $27.7 million and actual salaries of $19, $19 and $17 million. He is a unique talent and team player the likes of which we many never see again.

Brady has been giving his team hometown discounts ever since his first Super Bowl win in 2002, in stark contrast to so many greedy professional athletes.

More News Headlines

The Hill, Pope Francis drives a wedge between Catholic Church, GOP

Jameis Wilson will suffer no consequences for raping a fellow college student in 2012.

The Daily Beast: Jameis Winston Cleared of Rape Like Every Other College Sports Star, even though the hearing that cleared him was a pathetic joke.

From Vice.com: JAMEIS WINSTON CONDUCT HEARING TRANSCRIPT REVEALS MASS CONFUSION AND BIZARRE DECISION-MAKING.

Here’s an excellent piece on the reality of “false accusations” of rape from Autostraddle.

Rebel Girls: Our “False Rape” Hysteria is Bullsh*t

Wired, Over 80 Percent of Dark-Web Visits Relate to Pedophilia, Study Finds.

Bostino, Harvard Law Found in Violation of Title IX; Agrees to Remedy its Sexual Assault Policy.

Oregon Live, Why the backlash against Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ was so extreme.

PBS News Hour, Why are snowy owls moving so far from their Arctic home? And where can I spot one?

Marketwatch, You can put the next stock-market crash on your 2016 calendar now.

Christian Science Monitor, Judge rules that Boston Marathon bombing trial will begin Monday.

Forbes, Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered? Population Down Ninety Percent.

What else is happening? Have a great New Year’s Day, Sky Dancers!!


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

It hardly seems possible that the first week of November has passed already.  There seems to be a lot of unhappiness and unrest around the world right now.  Ordinary people are continuing to express their discontent with their governments who ignore the rights of the many to support the wealth of the few.

Jineth Bedoya Lima is a Colombian journalist who is trying to use her own abuse as a way to end sexual assault of women’s journalists. She also wants to highlight the inaction of Colombia in pursing cases for women that have been brutalized.

As a journalist who was kidnapped, tortured, and violently gang-raped 11 years ago, when she was 26, Bedoya had finally gotten the chance she’d been waiting for, one that most women who’ve endured what she has will never get. After 11 years of her case lying motionless at Colombia’s attorney general’s office, she has the prospect of seeing some justice at the international level.

During a morning visit to Bogota’s maximum-security La Modelo prison in May 2000, as part of a newspaper investigation into alleged arms trafficking involving state officials and members of the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), she was grabbed, drugged, and driven hours away. Three men repeatedly raped her and left her bound in a garbage dump at the side of a road, where a taxi driver discovered her that evening.

Later Bedoya told the news media how her kidnappers had gripped her hair and told her to “pay attention” as they tortured her. “We are sending a message to the press in Colombia,” they said.

After so many years of waiting on the Colombian justice system to investigate her attack, Bedoya is in D.C. to advance her case at the Inter-American Commission. The Pan-American human rights body will take up a case when all options have been exhausted on the country level or when a country has failed to bring justice in a reasonable amount of time. Bedoya and her lawyers appear to have banked and won on the latter.

All the inaction has taken its toll. When I asked after the hearing whether the look she’s had on her face all morning is anger, Bedoya answered quickly: “No, what you see is an expression of deep pain.”

Support for Republican Herman Cain has waned since the public discovery of settlements for sexual harassment.  The polls indicate a definite gender gap. Women are well aware of how prevalent sexual harassment is and they are also aware of Cain’s evolving explanations.

The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.

Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.

The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.

A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.

“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.

A major story on sexual predation broke over the weekend.  Two Penn State officials have been charged with covering up sexual abuse allegations against a coach.

In a development that strikes very close to Joe Paterno’s storied football program, Pennsylvania State University athletic director Tim Curley and another university official were charged Saturday with perjury related to a child sexual abuse investigation of longtime Nittany Lions assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, also were charged with failure to report, a summary offense. The perjury count is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

This appears to be yet another example of an old boy’s club protecting one of its own.  Sandusky was arraigned on 40 counts of sexual assault against young boys who he found via a charity he founded meant to help youth in trouble.  The cover-up undoubtedly lead to many assaults that could’ve been been prevented.
 Thousands of protesters surrounded the White House to demonstrate their lack of support for the Keystone Pipeline.  The pipeline exposes many states to the dangers of petroleum leaks and comes from Canadian Tar Sands.  The oil from the tar sands comes at great expense to the environment.

The protest was organized by the Natural Resources Defence Council, a U.S. environmental group. Spokeswoman Susan Casey-Lefkowitz told CBC News many Americans are concerned with the potential environmental impact of the pipeline.

“Tarsands expansion, climate change and particularly this pipeline is a major concern for many, many Americans,” she said, “and the numbers are growing every day.

“You know, for the president, it’s about making sure he holds true to the promises he made to fight climate change,” she said. “And to the other candidates, it’s about calling them out when they act like climate change is not real, which of course it is.”

Mississippi votes tomorrow to enact or reject a radical definition of human ‘life’.  Every one interested in the health of women will be watching the southern state that’s best know for being at the bottom of every list of good things in the country.  Colorado has voted on a similar initiative but it was rejected by voters.

Opponents said the definition is too broad and, in addition to outlawing abortion, could have effects on in vitro fertilization and birth control methods.

Stan Flint, a consultant for Mississippians for Healthy Families — a group that opposes the measure — said the group has tried to educate voters that they can be against abortion and vote against the initiative.

“Hopefully, everyone in Mississippi will understand this is a dangerously flawed vehicle,” Flint said. “It’s an extreme government intrusion.”

Here’s a really disturbing video from Occupy Oakland of some one being shot at by a rubber bullet by riot police while filming them.   Kind’ve makes you wonder about which countries are police states, doesn’t it?

Barry Ritholz continues to make certain that the causes of the financial crisis can’t be white washed by politicians seeking political donations from Wall Street. He writes on the “big lie” at WAPO.

Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.

Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.

They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.

Be sure to check the list that follows this quote.  He has a really good step by step explanation of how Allan Greenspan’s low interest rates led to banks looking for high profits in all the wrong places.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  So, why are people like Mayor Bloomberg the blaming poor home owners?

So, that will get us started this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Donald Rumsfeld’s Book Event Spurs Protests in Boston

Former Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped by Boston on Monday night to sell his book. The event was disrupted by protesters who heckled Rumsfeld and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest for war crimes. From WCVB Channel 5 in Boston:

Several protesters tried to disrupt a forum with Rumsfeld at the Old South Meeting House, shouting and holding up signs as most of the audience shouted and booed them down.

“I went down in front and looked Donald Rumsfeld in the eye and said, ‘I’m making a citizen’s arrest,’ said protester Nate Goldschlag, a member of the group Veterans for Peace, who had to buy Rumsfeld’s book to get into the event.

“He lied us into Iraq. He lied about weapons of mass destruction. He lied about Saddam Hussein being involved in 9/11,” Goldschlag said.

Four demonstrators were dragged out of the hall by police and one person was arrested outside the building for assaulting an officer with a bullhorn, police said.

The event was sponsored by right wing talk radio station WRKO, which explains why most of the 300 people there were supportive of Rumsfeld. Unfortunately for the protesters, they had to purchase copies of Rummy’s book in order to get into the event.

It did my heart good to learn about this little demonstration–sorry I’m a little late finding this story. Here are some videos from and about the event:


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! I’m having trouble finding any new news, but I’ve done my best to dig up a few interesting reads for you.

The Boston Herald has the lowdown on President Obama’s illegal immigrant uncle.

An illegal immigrant from Kenya busted for drunken driving after nearly striking a cop car in Framingham is the uncle of President Obama, the Herald has learned.

Obama Onyango told cops he wanted to “call the White House” after he was nabbed for OUI Aug. 24 after nearly plowing his SUV into a police cruiser. He was arraigned Thursday and was ordered held without bail because he was wanted on a federal immigration warrant, officials said.

Mike Rogers, a spokesman for Cleveland immigration attorney Margaret Wong, who is representing Onyango, confirmed that the 67-year-old is the president’s uncle. Wong is the same lawyer who represented the president’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, in her fight to win asylum last year.

Reached at her apartment in a South Boston public housing complex today, Zeituni Onyango said of her brother’s arrest: “Why don’t you go to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washingon, D.C. and ask your president? Not me.” She then hung up on a reporter.

OK, it’s another right wing source, but Fox News has a funny article on Obama’s announcement of his new economic adviser Alan Krueger: Seriously? Obama Uses 2 Teleprompters for 3 Minute Speech

President Obama required two heavy-duty teleprompters on Monday during a three-minute speech in which he nominated Alan Krueger to serve as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers.

“I am very pleased to appoint Alan and I look forward to working with him,” Obama said, staring at the large, flat-screen monitor to his right, then shifting his eyes to the teleprompter on his left. “I have nothing but confidence in Alan as he takes on this important role as one of the leaders of my economic team.”

Why couldn’t he just memorize that?

In more serious news, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene has been devastating in Vermont, but the networks aren’t covering it 24/7. I wonder why?

Vermont is reeling today from what is becoming the state’s worst natural disaster since the epic flood of 1927. At least three people have died in the storm, one man is missing, hundreds of roads statewide are closed, and thousands of homes and businesses suffered power outages and serious damage from flooding associated with Tropical Storm Irene.

[Update 5:40 p.m.] Three people are confirmed dead in Vermont in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, and a fourth person is missing, state officials said at a news conference in Montpelier late this afternoon.

The deaths occurred in Wilmington, Rutland and Ludlow. Another person, the son of the Rutland victim, is missing and feared dead, according to state officials.

Perhaps if the media elites lived in Vermont, we’d hear more about it. But they don’t, so it’s not real to them. This is why we can have 25 million people unemployed in this country and the media and political class completely ignore the devastation it causes.

Sarah Jaffe has an important article at Alternet on “How the Surveillance State Protects the Interests Of the Ultra-Rich.”

Jaffe discusses the refusal of the British government to recognize that poverty played a role in the recent riots in London and other cities, as well as the shutdown of cell phone service by BART during the protests of the killing of a man by BART police. She writes:

The techniques that were roundly decried by Western leaders when used by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak against his people’s peaceful revolution are suddenly embraced when it comes to unrest at home. Not only that, but techniques honed in the “war on terror” are now being turned on anti-austerity protesters, clamping down on discontent that was created in the first place by policies of the state.

[….]

As a burgeoning international protest movement takes shape, opposing austerity measures, decrying the wealth gap and rising inequality, and in some cases directly attacking the interests of oligarchs, we’re likely to see the surveillance state developed for tracking “terrorists” turned on citizen activists peacefully protesting the actions of their government. And as U.S. elections post-Citizens United will be more and more expensive, look for politicians of both parties to enforce these crackdowns.

Despite growing anger at austerity in other countries, those policies have been embraced by both parties here in the States. Groups like US Uncut have stepped into the fray, pointing out the connection between the tax dodging of banks like Bank of America and other corporations and the slashing of the social safety net for everyone else. The new protest movements are led not only by traditional left groups like labor unions, but a generation of young, wired activists using the Internet for innovative protest and revolutionary activism.

It’s a lengthy article, but well worth reading.

Joseph Heller as a young man

I’ll end with a literary piece. I’m a big fan of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, so I got a kick out of this review of books about Heller at the NYT: The Enigma of Joseph Heller.

“Oh God, this is a calamity for American literature,” Kurt Vonnegut said on learning of Joseph Heller’s death in 1999. John Updike was less alarmed: Heller “wasn’t top of the chart” as a writer, he reflected, though he was “a sweet man” and his first novel, “Catch-22” was “important.” Note the Updikean judiciousness of “important”: he didn’t say he liked the book, but it was a great cultural bellwether as novels go, and it has endured. Despite mixed reviews on publication in 1961, “Catch-22” was soon adopted by college students who recognized a kindred spirit in Yossarian, the bombardier who rebels against a materialistic bureaucracy hellbent on killing him. “Better Yossarian than Rotarian” became a popular slogan, all the more so with the timely (for the novel’s sake) military escalation in Vietnam, which became the “real” subject of “Catch-22” and partly accounts for its sales of more than 10 million copies to date. It’s hard to argue with that kind of importance.

IMHO, John Updike’s work isn’t likely to be read 100 years from now. Does anyone still read “Couples?” Please. “The Witches of Eastwick” was funny, but hardly deathless literature. Catch-22, on the other hand, might hold up 100 years from now. To me it’s the ultimate book on the insanity of war. I might just check out that Heller biography, even though the NYT reviewer wasn’t that thrilled with it.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Chickens coming home to Roost ?

A possible sign of things to come via Empty Wheel and the White House Pool Reporters? Evidently, some of the social justice movements are beginning to protest treatment of Bradley Manning.  Will war protesters be next?

Mr. Obama was in the middle of his remarks when a woman in a white suit stood up and said, Mr. President we wrote you a song. POTUS tried to get her to wait until later, but she persisted and the table of 10 broke into a song that pointed out they’d just spent $5,000 donating to his campaign and went on to protest the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning.

The woman stayed standing as they sang. Mr. Obama looked to Ms. Pelosi and asked, Nancy did you do this? Ms. Pelosi had a look on her face, as she stared at the singing group, that definitely said she did not.

[snip]

The 10 singers then passed around 8.5×11 signs that said “Free Bradley Manning” or had a photo of him.

Then the woman in the white suit stripped off her jacket to reveal a black T-shirt that said Free Bradley Manning, with an image of him.

“We paid our dues. Where’s our change?” they sang.

USSS and WH staff had moved near the table at this point. The woman was escorted out. Two others left on their own. (The rest stayed and applauded at the end of POTUS’s speech.)

“That was a nice song,” a displeased Mr. Obama said.

“Now where was I?” POTUS asked.

As was indicated by that song, “Over the last 2 and a half years, change turned out to be tougher than we expected,” POTUS said.

Excuses!!!!  Excuses!!!  It’s too hard!  The Republicans made me do it!!!  The Axelrove Dawg ate my homework!!!

Update: pictures of protest taken by activist Logan who attended the event are here.

The activists have a facebook page called savebradley. They also Tweet which is how I got all this information!

Our activist Logan is live tweeting the Obama fundraiser in San Francisco this morning. An entire table just stood up and began singing and holding signs for Bradley Manning. This is what politically engaged America looks like!