Tuesday Reads

Woman with dog and flowers by Quincy Verdun

Woman with dog and flowers by Quincy Verdun

Good Afternoon!!

The news continues to be bleak this morning. The Uvalde mass shooting is still at in the headlines, and so are multiple mass shootings that have followed it. Senators are arguing about gun control; and there is no possible solution, because the Senate is broken. Even if the Senate by some miracle passed a new laws on guns, the right-wing Supreme Court would likely overturn them. Meanwhile, President Biden is struggling to deal with so many serious problems while his approval ratings sink. I can’t address all those topics, but here are some stories to check out today.

Last week I wrote a post about the possibility that the U.S. is building up to a new civil war. Today Edward Luce addressed that question at Financial Times: Is America heading for civil war?

In the summer of 2015, America caught a glimpse of how its future could unfold. The US military conducted a routine exercise in the south that triggered a cascade of conspiracy theories, particularly in Texas. Some believed the manoeuvre was the precursor to a Chinese invasion; others thought it would coincide with a massive asteroid strike. The exercise, called Jade Helm 15, stood for “homeland eradication of local militants”, according to one of the right’s dark fantasy sites. Greg Abbot, Texas’s Republican governor, took these ravings seriously. He ensured that the 1,200 federal troops were closely monitored by the armed Texas National Guard. In that bizarre episode, which took place a year before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, we see the germs of an American break-up.

As with any warning of impending civil war, the very mention of another American one sounds impossibly alarmist — like persistent warnings from chief Vitalstatistix in the Asterix comic series that the sky was about to fall on Gaulish heads. America’s dissolution has often been mispredicted.

Yet a clutch of recent books make an alarmingly persuasive case that the warning lights are flashing redder than at any point since 1861. The French philosopher Voltaire once said: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” As the University of California’s Barbara Walter shows in her bracing manual, How Civil Wars Start, US democracy today is checking all the wrong boxes.

Dachshund-Puppies by Otto Bache

Dachshund Puppies by Otto Bache

Even before Trump triumphed in the 2016 presidential election, political analysts were warning about the erosion of democracy and drift towards autocracy. The paralysing divisions caused by Trump’s failed putsch of January 6, 2021, has sent it into dangerous new territory. Polls show that most Republicans believe, without evidence, that the election was stolen by Democrats backed by the so-called “deep state”, the Chinese government, rigged Venezuelan voting machines, or a feverish combination thereof.

In This Will Not Pass, a book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Joe Biden is quoted telling a senior Democrat: “I certainly hope [my presidency] works out. If it doesn’t I’m not sure we’re going to have a country.” That a US president could utter something so apocalyptic without raising too many eyebrows shows how routine such dread has become.

Read the rest at Financial Times.

The press is letting us down, writes Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: Why the press will never have another Watergate moment.

You’ll be hearing a lot about Watergate in the next several weeks, as the 50th anniversary of the infamous June 17, 1972, burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters approaches. There will be documentaries, cable-news debates, the finale of that Julia Roberts miniseries (“Gaslit”) based on the popular Watergate podcast (“Slow Burn”). I’ll be moderating a panel discussion at the Library of Congress on the anniversary itself — and you can certainly count on a few retrospectives in this very newspaper.

The scandal has great resonance at The Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1973 for its intrepid reporting and the courage it took to publish it. And it has particular meaning for me, because, like many others of my generation, I was first drawn into journalism by the televised Senate hearings in 1973, and I was enthralled by the 1976 movie “All the President’s Men,” based on the book by Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Young Girl Reading by Joseph W. Gies

Young Girl Reading by Joseph W. Gies

Yet thinking about Watergate saddens me these days. The nation that came together to force a corrupt president from office and send many of hisco-conspiratoraides to prison is a nation that no longer exists.

“The national newspapers mattered in a way that is unimaginable to us today, and even the regional newspapers were incredibly strong,” Garrett Graff, author of “Watergate: A New History,” told me last week. I have been immersed in his nearly 800-page history — a “remarkably rich narrative,” former Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. called it in a review — which sets out to retell the story.

Americans read about Watergate in their daily papers and watched the dramatic hearings on television. Gradually, public opinion changed and Nixon was forced to resign. Sullivan writes and Graff argues conditions are very different today.

Our media environment is far more fractured, and news organizations are far less trusted.

And, in part, we can blame the rise of a right-wing media system. At its heart is Fox News, which was founded in 1996, nearly a quarter-century after the break-in, with a purported mission to provide a “fair and balanced” counterpoint to the mainstream media. Of course, that message often manifested in relentless and damaging criticism of its news rivals. Meanwhile, Fox News and company have served as a highly effective laundry service for Trump’s lies. With that network’s help, his tens of thousands of false or misleading claims have found fertile ground among his fervent supporters — oblivious to the skillful reporting elsewhere that has called out and debunked those lies.

As Graff sees it, the growth of right-wing media has enabled many Republican members of Congress to turn a blind eye to the malfeasance of Team Trump. Not so during the Watergate investigation; after all, it was Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) who posed the immortal question: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” Even the stalwart conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) was among those who, at the end, managed to convince Nixon that he must resign.

Head over to the WaPo to read the whole column.

ABC News reports that 911 operators did inform police at the site of the Uvalde shooting that children were alive and calling for help: ‘Full of victims’: Video appears to show Texas 911 dispatchers relaying information from children in classroom.

Video obtained by ABC News, taken outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as last week’s massacre was unfolding inside, appears to capture a 911 dispatcher alerting officers on scene that they were receiving calls from children who were alive inside the classroom that the gunman had entered — as law enforcement continued to wait nearly an hour and a half to enter the room.

Puppies, by Federico Olaria

Puppies, by Federico Olaria

“Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims,” the dispatcher can be heard saying in the video. “Full of victims at this moment.”

“Is anybody inside of the building at this…?” the dispatcher asked.

Minutes later, the dispatcher says again: “Eight to nine children.”

The video, obtained by ABC News, also shows police rescuing children from inside the school by breaking through a window and pulling them out, and also leading them out the back door to safety….

The video, which appears to show some of what took place outside the school, raises new questions about law enforcement’s response to one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The gunman was left inside the classroom for 77 minutes as 19 officers waited in the hallway — and many more waited outside the building — after the incident commander wrongly believed the situation had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject, law enforcement has said.

The Supreme Court is still trying to find out who leaked Alito’s draft opinion on abortion. CNN reports: Exclusive: Supreme Court leak investigation heats up as clerks are asked for phone records in unprecedented move.

Supreme Court officials are escalating their search for the source of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, taking steps to require law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits, three sources with knowledge of the efforts have told CNN.

Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel.

Ticket Home, by Christina Ramos

Ticket Home, by Christina Ramos

The court’s moves are unprecedented and the most striking development to date in the investigation into who might have provided Politico with the draft opinion it published on May 2. The probe has intensified the already high tensions at the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is poised to roll back a half-century of abortion rights and privacy protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts met with law clerks as a group after the breach, CNN has learned, but it is not known whether any systematic individual interviews have occurred.

Lawyers outside the court who have become aware of the new inquiries related to cell phone details warn of potential intrusiveness on clerks’ personal activities, irrespective of any disclosure to the news media, and say they may feel the need to obtain independent counsel.

“That’s what similarly situated individuals would do in virtually any other government investigation,” said one appellate lawyer with experience in investigations and knowledge of the new demands on law clerks. “It would be hypocritical for the Supreme Court to prevent its own employees from taking advantage of that fundamental legal protection.”

I’ll end with a story that isn’t completely negative. It’s an interview with First Lady Jill Biden at Bazaar: A First Lady Undeterred.

In November 2020, when Joe Biden was elected president, the win seemed to validate not just his decision to enter this race but his entire career in politics. He has been grieving in public since he was sworn in to the United States Senate in 1973 from the hospital where his two young sons were recovering from the car crash that killed his first wife, Neilia, and their one-year-old daughter, Naomi. He married Jill five years later. Toward the end of his second term as vice president, in 2015, one of those sons, Beau, died of brain cancer. He resolved to launch this bid—his third in three decades—after watching white nationalists march on Charlottesville in 2017. The nation was sick and divided. He wanted to heal it.

Pierre Bonnard, Andreee Bonnard with her dogs

Pierre Bonnard, Andree Bonnard with her dogs

When the ballots were tallied, Biden was declared the winner. But in the meantime, America had further deteriorated. It was battling one novel virus and several older ones. The pandemic had exposed long-festering discrimination and hate. Hundreds of thousands of people had died. Biden had the kind of credentials no one envies; few in politics could claim more experience with sorrow.

Pundits wrote that Joe Biden had met his moment. But Jill Biden—a patient educator in an era of rampant misinformation, a woman so determined to be present for her people that she spent one weekend in March straining the limits of the space-time continuum—was there to greet it too.

Now the moment has changed. The pandemic stretches on, with new variants making quick work of the Greek alphabet. Health-care workers are burnt out. Teachers are exhausted. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is devastating—and driving up the cost of fuel amid rampant inflation. Biden’s approval numbers have sunk into the low 40s. Several polls ahead of the midterm elections predict dire losses for Democrats, with both the House and the Senate threatening to slip into Republican control.

It’s not the kind of environment that sets an obvious course for the nation’s most scrutinized political spouse—let alone for one who describes herself as an introvert and was so lukewarm on the rites and rituals of the Washington horse race that she spent her husband’s entire Senate career at their home in Delaware. But perhaps that’s for the best. In the absence of a guidebook, Jill Biden is writing her own.

Read the interview at the link.

More stories to check out, links only:

HuffPost: Right-Wing Organization Launches Chilling Map Marking Schools As ‘Woke Hot Spots.’

Clive Irving at The Daily Beast: Life Is Cheap in America. That’s What Makes Us Exceptional.

KHOU11: 11-year-old who survived Uvalde massacre struggles to deal in aftermath.

The New York Times: In the Senate, Chasing an Ever-Elusive Gun Law Deal.

Kate Shaw and John Bash at The New York Times: We Clerked for Justices Scalia and Stevens. America Is Getting Heller Wrong.

Politico: Former Trump aide Navarro says he has received a grand jury subpoena related to Jan. 6.

Take care Sky Dancers. I hope you have a Tuesday filled with positive vibes.


Lazy Caturday Reads

dona i gat_Myrtille Henrion-Picco

Dona i gat, Myrtille Henrion-Pico

Good Morning!!

It looks like the Covid relief bill could finally pass the Senate after an all-nighter in which Biden himself was finally brought in to get Joe Manchin on board. 

Politico: Senate reaches unemployment benefits deal, ending logjam on Covid aid bill.

Senate Democrats clinched a deal on Friday night over unemployment benefits that will smooth the upper chamber’s passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this weekend.

After about a nine-hour delay following Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) resistance to an earlier agreement on jobless payments, party leaders announced a new accord with Manchin. The latest deal would provide $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, and up to $10,200 in tax relief for unemployed workers.

Democratic leaders also agreed to limit eligibility for that tax relief, restricting the tax-free status of the benefits to households with incomes under $150,000 a year.

Ophelia Redpath, 1965

By Ophelia Redpath, 1965

The White House quickly announced its support after endorsing the earlier compromise.

“The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday night.

With Manchin’s objections eased, Democrats plowed forward with a marathon “vote-a-rama” — an all-night ordeal in which any senator can offer an amendment to Biden’s bill. The Senate is now on track to pass the package on Saturday….

After Senate passage, the bill will go back to the House, where lawmakers must approve the changes before it reaches Biden’s desk.

At The New York Times, Glenn Thrush reports:  More Democrats join the effort to kill the filibuster as a way of saving Biden’s agenda.

A growing number of Senate Democrats are warming to the idea of eliminating the filibuster as they encounter Republican resistance to President Biden’s legislative agenda, forcing the White House to cut deals on issues like the minimum wage and pandemic relief payments.

If the founders envisioned the upper chamber as a “cooling bowl” to moderate more extreme bills passed by the House, the filibuster has often been a deep freezer, infamously deployed by Southern racists to quash reforms during the civil rights era….

Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster.

Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster….

Tatyana Struchkova

By Tatyana Struchkova

On Thursday, Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota took to Twitter to declare her support for ending the filibuster. “The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster. It’s undemocratic,” she wrote, adding, “We need to move this country forward.”

A day earlier, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the state’s senior senator and a standard-bearer for her party’s moderate wing in 2020, said the likely demise in the Senate of a House voting rights bill had flipped her from a “maybe” to a “yes.” [….]

Another centrist, Jon Tester of Montana, has taken a wait-and-see approach, but signaled recently that he too might be open to killing the rule.

The investigations into the January 6 insurrection continue. Recent news:

The New York Times: F.B.I. Finds Contact Between Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Before Riot.

A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.

The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack….

Christilla Germain

By Christilla Germain

Separately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told The New York Times on Friday that he called Roger J. Stone Jr., a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump’s, while at a protest in front of the home of Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. During the protest, which occurred in the days before the Capitol assault, he put Mr. Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering.

A law enforcement official said that it was not Mr. Tarrio’s communication with Mr. Stone that was being scrutinized, and that the call made in front of Mr. Rubio’s home was a different matter. That two members of the group were in communication with people associated with the White House underscores the access that violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys had to the White House and to people close to the former president.

In response to this story, attorney Luppe B. Luppen (@Southpaw on Twitter) was reminded of an interesting January 6 tweet by CNN’s Jim Acosta:

This is interesting, from CNN: Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren quietly releases massive social media report on GOP colleagues who voted to overturn the election.

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has quietly posted a nearly 2,000-page report documenting social media posts by her Republican colleagues who voted against certifying results of the presidential election on January 6. The information compiled isn’t secret, but the report is another sign of the deep distrust that has settled into the US Capitol in the weeks since the insurrection.

The report chronicles the social media activity of members on public forums immediately before the November election and right after the January 6 riot. The report has been online for a week.

CNN reported earlier Thursday that federal investigators are examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists….

Catriona Millar2

By Catriona Millar

“Any appropriate disciplinary action is a matter not only of the Constitution and law, but also of fact,” the California Democrat wrote. “Many of former President Trump’s false statements were made in very public settings. Had Members made similar public statements in the weeks and months before the January 6th attack? Statements which are readily available in the public arena may be part of any consideration of Congress’ constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities.” [….]

“Like former President Trump, any elected Member of Congress who aided and abetted the insurrection or incited the attack seriously threatened our democratic government. They would have betrayed their oath of office and would be implicated in the same constitutional provision cited in the Article of Impeachment,” Lofgren wrote in her foreword to the report. “That provision prohibits any person who has previously taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution but subsequently engaged in insurrection or rebellion from serving in Congress.”

Communications from Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona are heavily represented in the report:

The report features a collection of social media posts and tweets that span dozens of pages from Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar where he urges supporters to “hold the line,” days before what would become the Capitol insurrection. In another social media post included in the report, Gosar wrote that “sedition and treason for stealing votes is appropriate.”

The report also captures numerous tweets where Gosar invoked @ali on Twitter, which was formerly the account used by Ali Alexander, a leader of the “Stop the Steal” group, who said in several Periscope livestream videos that he planned the rally that preceded the riot in conjunction with Gosar and two other congressional Republicans, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

HuffPost reports that the FBI still haven’t arrested this guy who attacked police with a fire extinguisher: Revealed: The Star-Spangled Trumper Filmed Attacking Cops At The Capitol.

With bright red and white stripes across his body and stars down his sleeves, the man in the American flag jacket and “FLORIDA FOR TRUMP” hat wielded a fire extinguisher while charging the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6. He shoved his way through the crowd of rioters to the police line, then sprayed officers at close range before chucking the emptied canister at them. By nightfall he himself had been lightly harmed, apparently by a police crowd control munition. He held up his shirt to show off his bruised gut during an interview with a female journalist filming him live as cops pushed the mob back from Capitol grounds. Then he looked straight into her livestreaming device and identified himself as Robert Palmer from Clearwater, Florida.

Adrie Martens

By Andrie Martens

At this point, the man had not only assaulted federal officers before a sea of smartphones while wearing highly distinctive attire, he’d also willingly revealed his own name and hometown on video at the scene of the crime — while still in the same outfit.

This isn’t your typical “Florida Man” story, despite its absurdity. This is the story of a violent insurrectionist who’s still at large — nearly two months later — and one woman who joined the online sleuthing communities crowdsourcing their efforts to bring a Capitol attacker to justice.

Robert Scott Palmer is a white 53-year-old husband and father who runs Son Bright Systems, a cleaning and restoration business. His criminal record includes being sentenced on charges of battery and felony fraud.

HuffPost verified his identity through a search of public records and social media accounts associated with Palmer, after receiving a tip from Amy, a woman living in a rural area out west who in her free time joined the #SeditionHunters network, an online sleuthing community seeking to identify the hundreds of Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol. (Amy is a pseudonym she chose to protect her privacy.)

Reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, Palmer confirmed he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and gave the livestream interview. He claimed that he’d done nothing to justify being struck with the police munition, and that the Biden administration was trying to “vilify the patriots” who were involved in the riot. 

Read more about Palmer at the HuffPo link. I wonder why he’s still at large?

More stories to check out today:

Sandra Bierman-yin-yang

Sandra Bierman, Yin Yang

Politico: Prominent retired generals aided Honoré review of Capitol security.

Raw Story: WATCH: QAnon-loving Capitol rioter thought JFK Jr would be ‘sworn in’ as Trump’s vice president on Jan 6

NBC News: Federico Klein, former Trump appointee charged in Capitol riot, wants jail cell without cockroaches.

Politico: Capitol riot shaman’s TV interview irks judge.

Newsweek: Rachel Powell, Capitol Rioter Known as ‘Bullhorn Lady,’ Indicted by Grand Jury.

The New York Times: Cuomo Is Told to Preserve Records at Issue in Sexual Harassment Inquiry.

CBS Evening News: Cuomo accuser alleges a staffer took sexual harassment training for the governor.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: How Never Trumpers Are Becoming Pro-Democracy Republicans.

Madison.com: Ron Johnson: No decision on 2022 run, but leaving office is ‘probably my preference now.’

The New York Times: Democrats Want a Stronger Edge in the Senate. Ohio Could Be Crucial.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!! This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: September Heat Wave

Heat-Wave

Good Morning!!

It’s September, but it feels like July here in Boston. We’re having another heat wave, and the same is true in many other parts of the country. Fortunately, most of us will get some relief later in the week.

From Weather.com: Pattern Change to Bring Heat Relief to Midwest, Plains, East; West Coast Heats Up.

Hot temperatures have dominated parts of the Midwest, Plains and East during the first week of September, with highs topping out well into the 80s and 90s at times. While some might be enjoying this late-summer heat and humidity, others are probably ready for the air to have more of a fall feel east of the Rockies. For those in the latterI’ camp, we do have some good news on the horizon thanks to a rearrangement of the jet stream pattern.

For the Midwest and parts of the East, temperatures will drop to near-average or even below-average levels as the week progresses. In fact, some cities in the Midwest may see high temperatures fall 20 degrees or more from early week into mid or late week. Even more impressive is the temperature drop from highs early this week to lows later in the week. For example, Chicago had a high of 92 degrees on Sunday but will see lows in the 50s late in the week, a drop of more than 30 degrees.

Before the cooler air arrives in the Northeast, daily record high temperatures will be threatened in multiple locations, including New York City, Philadelphia, Hartford and Boston on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the West Coast will see the opposite impact from this pattern change with temperatures soaring above average all the way into the Pacific Northwest.

Read all the details at the link.

People cool off at fountains on Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston

People cool off at fountains on Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston

From the Weather Wisdom column at The Boston Globe: September heat wave begins today and continues through Wednesday.

Back in 1881, the mercury rose to a stifling 102 degrees in Boston for the hottest temperature in the record books during the month of September. This was also one of the hottest days ever in Boston.

Typically our highs would be in the 70s closing out the first week of September, during a cool year we might stay in the 60s while other warmer years would reach the 80s. Today marks only the 5th time since records began in Boston we have reached 90 degrees on September 7th.

Heat Wave Number 2
Having already eclipsed the 90 mark, it’s almost a sure bet we are beginning a 3 day heat wave. Remember, heat waves are 3 days or more in a row when the high temperature reaches at least 90 degrees. Tomorrow and Wednesday are even hotter and as the humidity slowly climbs the heat indices could get near 100 degrees for a few hours either or both days.

The map below shows highs in the mid-90s tomorrow. This would be the 9th time Boston has reached 90 on the 8th of September. The record for tomorrow is 95 and there is a chance would could tie that record.

Another 90 degree day on Wednesday will make it an official heat wave. There are only 3 days where it’s reached 90 on the 9th and this year should make 4. The record Wednesday is 91 and we would likely set a new record.

global-climate-changejpgcropdisplay

On days like this, I can’t help thinking about our changing climate and how it will affect future generations. This is another reason why we must elect a Democratic president next year. President Obama has been able to make some progress on this issue through executive orders; to build on his efforts, we desperately need to elect Hillary Clinton president and hope that she can bring along enough Democrats to regain the Senate.

From The Hill: Democrats pin hopes on Hillary for winning back the Senate.

The battle for control of the Senate rests on the outcome of the presidential race, strategists in both parties say.

Since 1860, no party has been able to climb out of the minority to capture the Senate during a presidential election year without also winning the White House….

Democrats appear well positioned to knock off two Republican incumbents, but whether they can stretch the number of Senate pick-ups to the necessary four or five while defending two of their own vulnerable seats remains to be seen.

The election map favors Democrats. They are defending only 10 Senate seats, while Republicans are protecting 24, including seven in states carried by President Obama in 2012.

But Democrats are running against the grain of history by trying to keep the White House for three consecutive terms — a feat last accomplished by Republicans in 1988, when Ronald Reagan left office with a 53-percent approval rating. Obama’s approval rating, by comparison, stands at 45 percent, according to Gallup.

climate-change

Just one more reason why we need to support Hillary. “The article quotes “Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist, lobbyist and fundraiser.”

“Ted Strickland can beat Rob Portman if Hillary Clinton is winning Ohio. Pat Toomey, no matter how good he looks on paper and the problems we’re having with the primary, I think if you get to November and Democrats are winning Pennsylvania by a huge number, Toomey’s in a lot of trouble,” he said

“If Democrats don’t win the presidential race, I don’t think we’ll win the Senate,” he added.

The map of key Senate races largely matches up with the map of presidential battlegrounds.

Aside from Wisconsin and Illinois, where Republican incumbent Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are fighting for their political lives in blue states, the most competitive Senate contests are in presidential swing states.

Johnson trails former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin by five points, according to a mid-August Marquette Law School poll, and Democrats predict Feingold will raise more money.

Kirk, meanwhile, lagged six points behind Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) in a late-July survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm.

More details at the link.

climate_change2

Getting back to climate change, The Washington Post had an important article yesterday: New studies deepen concerns about a climate-change ‘wild card.’

Two new studies are adding to concerns about one of the most troubling scenarios for future climate change: the possibility that global warming could slow or shut down the Atlantic’s great ocean circulation systems, with dramatic implications for North America and Europe.

The research, by separate teams of scientists, bolsters predictions of disruptions to global ocean currents — such as the Gulf Stream — that transfer tropical warmth from the equator to northern latitudes, as well as a larger conveyor system that cycles colder water into the ocean’s depths. Both systems help ensure relatively mild conditions in parts of Northern Europe that would otherwise be much colder.

The papers offer new insight into how rapidly melting Arctic ice could slow or even temporarily halt the ocean’s normal circulation, with possible effects ranging from plunging temperatures in northern latitudes to centuries-long droughts in Southeast Asia….

One study, by three scientists from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, uses computers to model how Greenland’s rapid thawing could affect the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, the system that pushes cold, dense saltwater into the deep ocean and helps transport warm water northward, helping to warm Europe’s climate.

Their report, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says previous research may have underestimated changes to the ocean from the huge influx of fresh, cold water from melting ice sheets. Using new methods, the German scientists were able to estimate more precisely how much ice would melt and how all that added freshwater would affect ocean circulation. In the ocean, colder water normally tends to sink, but cold freshwater — less dense than saltwater — stays near the surface, disrupting the normal flow.

climatechange

The researchers concluded that we’ve already gone pretty far down the road on climate change, but there are still things society can do the prevent the worst scenarios from coming to pass.

A second paper, by a team of Texas scientists, sheds new light on how the Earth’s climate responded during a similar thaw from the planet’s geological past. About 12,000 years ago, rising temperatures at the end of the last ice age released huge volumes of cold freshwater, disrupting the ocean’s circulation systems and sending parts of the Northern Hemisphere back in to the freezer. Scientists refer to the era as the Younger Dryas period.

The study in the journal Nature Climate found a wide range of impacts, some of which lingered for centuries. While the far-northern latitudes experienced rapid changes — including an 18-degree Fahrenheit temperature drop in Greenland in less than a decade — droughts and other weather anomalies in the southern Pacific persisted for 1,000 years.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Is it possible we’ve reached a turning point? Jonathan Chait thinks so: This is the year humans finally got serious about saving themselves from themselves.

Here on planet Earth, things could be going better. The rise in atmospheric temperatures from greenhouse gases poses the most dire threat to humanity, measured on a scale of potential suffering, since Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany launched near-simultaneous wars of conquest. And the problem has turned out to be much harder to solve. It’s not the money. The cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels, measured as a share of the economy, may amount to a fraction of the cost of defeating the Axis powers. Rather, it is the politics that have proved so fiendish. Fighting a war is relatively straightforward: You spend all the money you can to build a giant military and send it off to do battle. Climate change is a problem that politics is almost designed not to solve. Its costs lie mostly in the distant future, whereas politics is built to respond to immediate conditions. (And of the wonders the internet has brought us, a lengthening of mental time horizons is not among them.) Its solution requires coordination not of a handful of allies but of scores of countries with wildly disparate economies and political structures. There has not yet been a galvanizing Pearl Harbor moment, when the urgency of action becomes instantly clear and isolationists melt away. Instead, it breeds counterproductive mental reactions: denial, fatalism, and depression.

warming-1

It’s a long read. Chait covers the history of efforts to reverse climate change and then offers hope.

For human to wean ourselves off carbon-emitting fossil fuel, we will have to use some combination of edict and invention — there is no other plausible way around it. The task before the world is best envisioned not as a singular event but as two distinct but interrelated revolutions, one in political willpower and the other in technological innovation. It has taken a long time for each to materialize, in part because the absence of one has compounded the difficulty of the other. It is extremely hard to force a shift to clean energy when dirty energy is much cheaper, and it is extremely hard to achieve economies of scale in new energy technologies when the political system has not yet nudged you to do so.

And yet, if you formed a viewpoint about the cost effectiveness of green energy a generation ago (when, for instance, Ronald Reagan tore the costly solar panels installed by his predecessor off the White House roof), or even just a few years ago, your beliefs are out of date. That technological revolution is well under way.

For one thing, the price of solar is falling, and rapidly. In a March 2011post for Scientific American’s website, Ramez Naam, a computer scientist and technological enthusiast, compared the rapid progress of solar power to Moore’s Law, the famous dictum that described the process by which microchips grew steadily more useful over time, doubling in efficiency every two years. The price of solar power had fallen in two decades from nearly $10 a watt to about $3. By 2030, he predicted, the price could drop to just 50 cents a watt.

Read the whole thing at New York Magazine.

Those are my offerings for today. I’m going to turn was feeling sick on Sunday and Monday and I’m still a little wobbly today. Take, care, Sky Dancers and I hope the floor over to you now, because I’m recovering from a nasty stomach virus. I hope you have an enjoyable day.

 


Wednesday Reads: We are the world…

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Good morning, or afternoon, or…

whatever time of day it is.

It’s been 30 years since Quincy Jones got the gang together and cut that record: ‘We Are the World’ at 30: Stars Will Never Be That Earnest Again — The Atlantic

I used to make fun of that song when it came out. But you got to admit it did have a shitload of talent on there…

 

In the late-night hours of January 28, 1985, Quincy Jones ushered some of the world’s most famous pop stars into the A&M Studios in Los Angeles. Among them were Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson, and Kenny Rogers. The stars—46 of them in all, many of them at the height of their careers—were greeted with a sign: “Check your egos at the door.”

This was both impossible and appropriate. The vocalists—an ad-hoc supergroup that would come to be known, pragmatically, as “USA for Africa”—were there to record, over the course of a long night, a song that was written for them by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, inspired by Harry Belafonte, and produced, in part, by Jones. It was to be a charity drive in musical form. Proceeds from the song’s sales, the idea went, would go toward alleviating a famine in Ethiopia. It was a song that was also an idea: “We Are the World.”

…We are the dumbass racist children/GOP Senators and Governors who will not make the world a better place…so fuck your charity and peace, give us treason, war and segregation…with a good ol’ fashioned lynching/shooting on the side.

Yeah, it has really gotten fucked up since then, just a few examples from the last few days.

Regarding lynchings, treason and war, case in point as follows, in link dump format:

Hands Across America — and even if you didn't participate you still wore the T-shirt.

 

Number 1= A group of frat boys singing a sweet little sing song anthem that is sure to make the SAE,  Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity a much better place: Oklahoma Frat Boys Caught Singing ‘There Will Never Be A N***** In SAE’

The nine-second video, uploaded by an anonymous user on YouTube, shows a group of college students in formal attire clapping while they sing racist lyrics to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It” during a date function. The lyrics as heard in the video are:

“There will never be a n***** in SAE.
There will never be a n***** in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE.”

Video is at the link, if you want to see it. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

Number 2= The parents who produced one of the “children” on the video…say he is not racist, but I think the picture at this link says it all. Parker Rice, parents of Levi Pettit apologize for ‘horrible mistake’ made in OU SAE video | Dallas Morning News

 

Brody and Susan Pettit, parents of recent Highland Park High School graduate Levi Pettit.

049bfccbcd4e55297129aa1405eb31a3“As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply,” says the statement, which has also been posted on this website. “He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

“To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.“We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son — but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the — entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far — as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

“We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.”

Band-Aid-Do-They-Know-Its-547971The other statement, from Rice is more typical in the usually non-apology tone…blame the booze and say you are praying for guidance.

Parker Rice — the recent Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas graduate — sent his own apology, via his father Bob. Here it is in full:

“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.

aid-m-b“I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.

“At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

 

“For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.

“Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.”

Oh boy…

From TBogg:  It’s not a ‘horrible mistake’ to sing a racist song – it’s horrible that you’re a racist

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? - Twitter

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? – Twitter

In a time of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and a few other social media thingy-mcApps that allow us to share every waking moment of our lives with others because we are all so amazingly interesting, it took a surprising long time for the identities of the two OU SAE-bros who led their frat brothers and their dates in a merry old racist sing-along to be revealed.

Undoubtedly it had to do with the fact that all white entitled Bieber-haired preppy douchebags look alike and, as a white person, it is totally not racist for me to say that.

8ec765be0ea5f29c147f25077792cb39The two strapping young Leaders of Tomorrow with the destined-to-be-in-a-frat-by-virtue-of-their-names are Parker Rice and Levi Pettit. For those who had Chad or Todd in your office pool…  so close, and my condolences.

In a time-honored tradition handed down from generation to generation of white men who come from affluent families with the means to make “indiscretions go away,” the two young men, both of whom are old enough to enlist in the military and serve their country, have manned up and apologized.

And by “manned up and apologized” I mean they have issued — or had issued for them — artisanal hand-crafted statements lovingly and carefully composed by family attorneys and “crisis managers.”

TBogg’s take on their statements:

Notable in both statements is the word “mistake,” and not in the “It was a mistake that I got caught being my white privileged drunken unaccountable-for-anything dumbass self” kind of way.

[…]

Parker Rice’s…After admitting that it was the demon rum that made him sing the song while also saying that is no excuse — but still, just sayin’  ya know –  we learn that it obliterated everything he learned at Jesuit prep school (“Men for Others“), and that he is concerned for his fellow frat bros.

Rice then moves on to my personal favorite : the ‘teachable moment’

35376565e77f654c6bbb3a14dde215c5As far as Levi Pettit–and his parents comments about him being a good boy and not racist…and that they are thankful for their close friends…and shit…

if the mention of the “diverse, close-knit group of friends” didn’t make you roll your eyes so hard you detached a retina, well, there is  this:

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

Victims of sexual assault need time to “heal.” Soldiers who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer from PTSD need time to “heal” — if that is even possible. Families of unarmed African-American teenagers who are gunned down in the street by trigger-happy cops who know there will be no repercussions in a country where black lives don’t matter –  they need time to “heal” although that pain will never ever go away.

But the families of privileged young men who think it perfectly fine to lead drunken sing-alongs to songs about lynching “niggers” on a party bus?

They don’t get to plead for time to “heal” while at the same time explaining that their son is actually a swell kid of sound character who deep deep down has a really  good heart… just like we raised him. Hooray for us.

He’s a racist, and racism begins at home.

Heal that, then get back to us…

But you know…It isn’t like this is something new, this shit has been going on for evah:

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Oklahoma: SAE Fraternity has Troubled History of Race Vandalism, Hazing | Informed Comment

The Racist OU SAE Fraternity Chant Was Also Sung At Louisiana Tech | News OK

The Historical Roots of Fraternity Racism- History News Network HNN.org

New video shows OU’s SAE house mom using racist slurs – NY Daily News

Sigma Alpha Epsilon says it’s investigating additional racist ‘incidents’ – The Washington Post

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is no stranger to scandal and sanctions – CNN.com

 

My husband is a SAE brother. I haven’t asked him about it, I will let you know what he says…and if they had this little diddy of a song over at their chapter at USF. (He says they didn’t have that song, but they did not have any blacks in their frat…they had all other races, Jews, Latinos, Asians etc. He said that USF had two or three other black fraternities on campus so, blah blah blah…)

03/11/2015 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

What number was I on?

Number 3? Alright then…

Number 3= Dumbass cops who shoot to kill unarmed naked black men, because…I don’t know, they save the tasers for the old people in wheelchairs?

Police Officer Shoots and Kills Naked, Unarmed Black Man Near Atlanta

A white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man at an apartment complex in Chamblee, Ga. Monday afternoon. The man has been identified as 27-year-old Anthony Hill; he is believed to have suffered from mental illness.

[…]

…the officer, who has since been placed on administrative leave, also had access to a Taser and pepper spray.

d48a3558e4073966af0503c2c1e6b289In other police related news:

Ferguson fallout: Ferguson manager is 5th out after DOJ report alleging bias : News

The Mayor still has his job.

Next up, Porn and the patrol car—one cop’s 2 hour-a-day habit | Ars Technica

When you watch enough porn that investigators have to compile spreadsheets, you know you’re in trouble.

I guess the question is, Are You Smarter Than a Cop?

Yeah, cops make an arrest, but don’t understand the law they supposedly used to pull the car over to begin with.

Darisse was monitoring northbound traffic on a stretch of Interstate 77 near Dobson, North Carolina. He says that just around 8:00 a.m. he saw a Ford Escort pass his car. According to Darisse, the driver looked nervous, staring forward and gripping the steering wheel, so he decided to pull onto the road and follow the car. After a few miles, Darisse says the Escort approached some traffic and braked. That’s when he noticed that one of the car’s brake lights, the right one, was out. It was all the reason he needed, he thought,to initiate a stop.

[…]

It would have been just another drug bust except for one thing: North Carolina has no law against operating a vehicle with just one brake light.

 

A misunderstanding of the law, what does that remind you of?

Which leads me to:

Number 4= The idiot traitors in our midst.

Addicting Info – Even Republicans Admit Their Colleagues Were Stupid To Send Letter To Iran

As 47 Republican Senators have taken the plunge to be treasonous obstructionists, some on the right are just now realizing the magnitude of this mistake, and they are not happy.

77a22411bb9ecc173b996b80b7392c72Only seven Republicans abstained from the letter, including Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker told The Daily Beast that a letter was not the way to go nor was is appropriate:

“I didn’t think it was going to further our efforts to get to a place where Congress would play the appropriate role that it should on Iran. I did not think that the letter was something that was going to help get us to an outcome that we’re all seeking, and that is Congress playing that appropriate role. I immediately knew that it was not something that, for me anyway, in my particular role, was going to be constructive. “I didn’t realize until this weekend  that it had the kind of momentum that it had.”

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the letter would further cause more “animosity” between Congress and the White House and that the issue of Iran was “too important to divide us among partisan lines.” Senator Flake also pointed out that what President Obama is negotiating is an agreement, not a treaty, and also sided with Corker in the assertion that the letter was inappropriate, saying:

“I just didn’t feel that it was appropriate or productive at this point. These are tough enough negotiations as it stands, and introducing this kind of letter, I didn’t think would be helpful.”

John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, also signed the letter. Perhaps Flake should have a talk with him. Furthermore, when you have the most power member on foreign issues in the Senate not signing a letter undermining foreign relations, maybe you shouldn’t do it. But the junior senator from Arkansas thought he’d get his 15 minutes of fame by committing high treason in violation of the Logan Act. What a great way to start your Senate career.

The rest of the seven who did not sign are at that link as well.

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BTW: Cotton digs deeper after Iran letter sparks fury | MSNBC

When asked what an acceptable deal would look like to him, Cotton answered “complete nuclear disarmament by Iran.”
“They can simply disarm their nuclear weapons program and allow complete intrusive inspections,” Cotton said.
The Arkansan added that he wants Iranians to “completely disarm their nuclear weapons program.”
It’s worth emphasizing that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. “Disarming” sounds like a worthy goal, but it’s difficult to get rid of weapons that do not currently exist.
Dumb as dirt.

(I know my words are way off this morning, and I am not making sense, but I am on zero sleep…and the fun continues. Jake’s sugar levels were at 500 this a.m.)

Number 5: Extreme punishments or prison terms or fines….this is just fucked up:

Georgia sanitation worker will no longer serve jail time for picking up trash too early | theGrio

This is a case of doing your job while black?69c82af59c214b25d4aa4c1c799b2cec

Kevin McGill was picking up trash too early. So the sanitation worker was sent to jail.

A city ordinance in Sandy Springs, Georgia, limited the trash collection times to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. McGill began collecting trash at 5 a.m., which the city solicitor said was leading to complaints about noise from neighbors.

McGill agreed to a plea deal and was originally sentenced to 30 days in jail, which could be served on the weekends. Fortunately, his sentence was suspended this week after the city’s solicitor changed his tune.

Mind you, this was a first time offense.

Next up…trying to escape an abusive relationship, while female?

This 21-year-old woman faces decades in prison for trying to escape her abuser – Salon.com

Cherelle Baldwin is serving her 21st month in prison, even after a Connecticut jury refused to convict her.

Read that if you can stomach it.

From Florida, and a town I used to live in: One apartment complex’s rule: You write a bad review, we fine you $10k | Ars Technica

The picture of this execution chair is enough to get put in the extreme category: Utah set to bring back death sentence by firing squad | Miami Herald Miami Herald

FILE - This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert will not say if he'll sign a bill to bring back the firing squad but does say the method would give Utah a backup execution method. Herbert's spokesman Marty Carpenter issued a statement about the bill Tuesday in response to questions from reporters. Utah's Senate is set to cast a final vote on the bill this week. It would call for a firing squad if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained 30 days before an execution.

This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.

 

30fcd4303047f594a4e152f1dcdedffbBig numbers here: 250,000 Japanese still displaced 4 years after quake

And you want to talk about emails? Emails Reveal Lobbyist Had Undisclosed Role In Cuomo Financial Crisis Investigation – ProPublica

Last few links:

The Return of the Clinton Media Persecution Complex | Mother Jones

A Defiant Clinton Brushes Off Email Controversy – NBC News.com

Ugh…

If all that was not depressing enough:

Tim Burton to direct live action Dumbo | Film | The Guardian

Shit. He ruined Dark Shadows, imagine what he will do with the Pink Elephants on Parade?

Final link is a group of stuff about women: Physics geniuses, Mexican rappers, LEGO Supreme Court: It’s Woman Crush Wednesday | Grist

This past Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day — although, it’s worth mentioning that because of Daylight Savings in the good ol’ US of A, we couldn’t even get a whole 24 hours to celebrate womanhood. Typical. To make up for that, we hope you take a whole hour today to relax and enjoy our WCW roundup for this week — ladies, you deserve it!

That is it, I am going to try and get some sleep.

Here is the full performance of Queen at Live Aid:

 

Catch ya later…treat this as an open thread.

Minkoff. Out.

 

 


Sunday Reads: Updates and Comebacks

DCF 1.0Good Morning

Can you believe it is December 1st? Honestly, I can’t.

What an exhausting year this has been, to think it is almost over.

Anyway, here are your reads for this morning, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians protest plan to relocate Bedouins.

Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank demonstrated Saturday against an Israeli government plan that in some cases would relocate Bedouins from traditional lands in the Negev desert to urban communities.

Some of the gatherings turned violent, with 28 protesters arrested and at least 15 police officers injured, one of them stabbed. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and skunk water to disperse demonstrators.

The “Day of Rage” was called as the Israeli parliament was preparing to give final approval to what has become known as the Prawer Plan, named after an Israeli government official who wrote it.

Israeli officials say the plan was reached after extensive consultation with Bedouin leaders. It would provide recognition and previously denied services for some Bedouin communities that have been viewed by the Israelis as squatters on state land and relocate others while providing some compensation.

The controversial plan faces strong opposition from many Bedouins, who say it would in effect expropriate 200,000 acres of Arab land and forcibly relocate more than 40,000 Bedouins.

The protest have even spread to the UK: Day of Rage Rocks Israel, Spreads to UK.

Meanwhile, U.S. airlines complying with China’s new airspace demands.

U.S. airline officials say they are complying with new State Department guidance urging carriers to alert China before any flights pass through that country’s new self-declared air-defense zone.

Airline officials said Saturday that compliance would not disrupt travel to Asia, since they already communicate with any government when crossing through or over foreign territory.

In US politics: N. Georgia key battleground in Senate GOP primary

At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits one of the most Republican congressional districts in the country that is home to Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.

The 9th Congressional District and the nearby 14th district are considered the heart of the GOP in Georgia and will be key battlegrounds in a fiercely contested Republican primary next year for an open U.S. Senate seat, a race that will be watched nationally as Democrats look to thwart efforts by Republicans to take control of the Senate.

While not as populous or packed with deep-pocket donors as metro Atlanta, the two districts in north Georgia offer a strong and reliable base of fiscal and social conservatives and are largely up for grabs considering no major candidate has a direct link to the area.

Yeah this is my district, the Saxby Chambliss district….according to that article, 20 percent of the state’s Republican voters are in these districts.

All the top candidates have already made trips and are expected to keep visiting ahead of the May 20 primary. The voters are used to seeing their elected officials and are known for asking tough questions.

“They are a lot like Iowa caucus voters. They expect to see their candidates in the flesh,” said Lake, who recently left the Senate campaign of Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, citing differences in opinion, and is no longer aligned with a candidate in the race.

A number of voters who attended a recent congressional hearing in the 9th district said they remain undecided. Besides Gingrey, the other major candidates are tea party favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Athens; Karen Handel, who has a statewide grassroots organization from her previous campaigns; fundraising leader Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah; and David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and past CEO of Dollar General and Reebok.

Ugh. More disgust at the link, with no possible chance of getting a decent representative in Washington D.C.

Another link on an asshole of another kind: Seattle Asshole Demands Employee Firing Over Bar’s Google Glass Policy

The most absolute awful thing about the story of Nick Starr is not that he exists, but that there are surely more people like him: the Seattle IT drone threw a Facebook fit when he was asked to take off his face-camera at a cafe. “I would love an explanation, apology, clarification…or her termination.”

Read the rant at the link above.

Here’s the logic: the ability to covertly take pictures of people and perhaps post them to Twitter—as Starr has done in the past—shall not be infringed upon. Any attempts to subvert this divine right will be attacked in kind. This is an ostensibly carbon-based life form arguing for garnished wages or a lost job because he couldn’t wear a face computer into a watering hole.

Those Google Glass things are over the top and cross the line…and that this asshole has taken pictures of people in the bathroom and put them online…geez what a dickhead.

Okay, two links about JFK:

PBS show on JFK assassination ‘rigged’ and ‘biased,’ author says

In Wednesday’s Nova special on the JFK assassination, private investigator Josiah Thompson is an avuncular presence, repeatedly explaining what happened on Nov. 22, 50 years ago in Dallas.

But Thursday the author of Six Seconds in Dallas said he was “outraged,” calling the program “rigged.”

He wasn’t accusing “Cold Case: JFK” of faking or staging any tests, but said the program failed to fully examine acoustic evidence that suggests four shots were fired that day, because doing so might have derailed the show’s conclusion, that Lee Harvey Oswald was probably the only gunman.

Another View: Seven reasons to reject the Warren Report – California Forum – The Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman suggested “we see what we want to see” regarding the JFK assassination (“Kennedy slaying answers elude us”; Forum, Nov. 17). Marcos Breton blamed our skepticism on advancing age: “It’s the ultimate baby boomer fetish,” he scoffed (“Count me out of the JFK club”; Our Region, Nov. 17).

If you still think the Warren Report is an example of a trustworthy, paternal federal government here to help you, listen up.

Remember the auction of Classic Movie Memorabilia? If you are curious as to how much some of those items ended up going for, check it out here: Classic Movie Memorabilia

ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM  Sold for $4,085,000  At the TCM / Bonham's Auction Nov 23,2013

ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM Sold for $4,085,000 At the TCM / Bonham’s Auction Nov 23,2013

Angela Lansbury is making a comeback. No, she is not dead. Hold Up–Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage

Hold Up--Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage

In breaking entertainment news that is sure to get me 500 billion clicks today alone, Angela Lansbury is set to make her triumphant, beautiful return to the stage. After a more than 40 year absence from the London stage, Jessica Fletcher Lansbury will star in a West End revival of Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit.

TCM has been showing some crappy movies lately, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Please. Hopefully they get back to the good stuff soon.

Anyway, this next article is interesting too, from BBC News – A visit to a hidden coca plantation

The Peruvian government says it is committed to eradicating the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made – but a walk in the jungle suggests that for cash-strapped farmers, it is not an easy choice.

I should probably have listened just a little more carefully when the farmer answered my question.

I had asked if she would show me where her hidden coca plantation was – and what she said was: “Yes, of course, but it will mean a bit of walking.”

Now, I like walking, I walk for pleasure. But what a Peruvian farmer means by a “bit of walking” turned out to be rather different from what I mean.

We were in the region known as the High Amazon. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Green, lush hillsides and steep wooded valleys, where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. Traditionally it has been one of the main production centres for Peruvian cocaine.

And from coke production to art history: Vermeer’s Secret Tool: Testing Whether The Artist Used Mirrors and Lenses to Create His Realistic Images | Vanity Fair

David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle.

In the history of art, Johannes Vermeer is almost as mysterious and unfathomable as Shakespeare in literature, like a character in a novel. Accepted into his local Dutch painters’ guild in 1653, at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice, he promptly begins painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women. After his death, at 43, he and his minuscule oeuvre slip into obscurity for two centuries. Then, just as photography is making highly realistic painting seem pointless, the photorealistic “Sphinx of Delft” is rediscovered and his pictures are suddenly deemed valuable. By the time of the first big American show of Vermeer paintings—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1909—their value has increased another hundred times, by the 1920s ten times that.

Despite occasional speculation over the years that an optical device somehow enabled Vermeer to paint his pictures, the art-history establishment has remained adamant in its romantic conviction: maybe he was inspired somehow by lens-projected images, but his only exceptional tool for making art was his astounding eye, his otherworldly genius.

That is a long read…complete with videos.

Have a good day, and think of this as an open thread.