Monday Reads

10155190_10207062534495474_5016625561016188746_nIt’s Monday!!!

So, most of my friends and family know that politics is my favorite blood sport. I’ve been at this since volunteering in high school for a friend’s father’s re-election to Congress.  I also was forced to drop Nixon flyers along with knocking on doors for the Congressman which is something I may never forgive myself for doing.  I did drop them a variety of places though, I might add.  It was a different time back then as my “very flamboyant” friend Mark who was door knocking with me will tell ya.  We didn’t quite have the right words for that sort’ve thing back then other than “very flamboyant”.  My grandmother was still thrilled she been given the right to vote in middle age too. Who among us would want to go back to that?

Every wide open primary is like the Super Bowl/March Madness/World Cup all rolled into one big Shindig for me! They just have to put up with my normal issue-centered self and watch me go Super Fan until the nominations get sewed up. Then, there’s my deep hibernation until fall.  You know my birthday is usually on an election day too.  Maybe that has something to do with it!

So we’re headed towards a ton of primaries!  Early voting is on here in Louisiana and many other places!!!  Our Sky Dancers in Massachusetts, Georgia and Texas will be voting shortly too!  Speak up and let us know what it’s like on the ground in your state!!!  We’re going to have our usual live blogs and we just love hearing from every one!!!!

Turnout has not been high among Democrats compared to 2008.  Turnout is high among Republicans.  This is America folks!  We invented democracy here!!  Get out there and vote!!!!  (Warning this goes to the Washington Times.)

Republicans’ turnout streak continued, with GOP voters shattering their South Carolina primary record Saturday night.

With almost all precincts reporting, more than 737,000 votes had been counted. That was more than 20 percent higher than 2012, when about 603,000 voted.

It follows record GOP turnout in Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary earlier this month.

By contrast, Democrats’ turnout has tumbled from its 2008 records in all three contests, including Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada. About 80,000 voters took part in the caucuses, with was 33 percent less than 2008’s level.

Republicans hold their caucuses Tuesday in Nevada, while Democrats shift to South Carolina next weekend.

Clinton leads in 10 of the 12 early March Primaries.  Her win in Nevada was significant.  It also looks like Trump is on the way to becoming the Republican nominee according to Mark Halperin.

Only suckers bet on presidential politics or professional wrestling, especially in this most tumultuous campaign cycle in recent memory. But if you were playing the odds, you would have to say that the weekend’s electoral results have, for now, put Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in extraordinarily commanding positions to become their parties’ de facto nominees as early as mid-March.

The two New Yorkers arrived here by different routes. For Clinton, her solid victory over Bernie Sanders in Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada provided a circuit breaker on her rival’s weeks-long run of momentum, punctuated by his landslide win in the New Hampshire primary.

Such is the inexorable power of the expectations game in determining the meaning of election results that what would have, only a few weeks ago, been seen as a miraculous showing by Sanders in Nevada (losing to Clinton by just 5 points) is now a potentially candidacy-ending loss. The Vermont senator’s campaign compounded some bad luck with some bad judgment. First, after a long period without any credible polling in the Silver State, a CNN survey released three days before the caucuses showed the race effectively tied. Then, Sanders’ team made it clear to reporters that they were playinghard to win on Saturday and their body language suggested they thought they would prevail. Thus, Clinton’s victory was seen as a reassertion of her hold on non-white voters, seniors, and other elements of a majority coalition that can be replicated in almost every upcoming contest.

It is crude and irrational, but the impact of the CNN poll and Team Sanders’ misplaced display of confidence was to take the full measure of his momentum and transfer it to the former secretary of state in one fell swoop Saturday night. Now, Clinton has regained the Big Mo just in time for a three-week stretch after South Carolina and created a potential killing field for Sanders.

12717836_10207052111794913_5040842045985873994_nSo, a Trump nomination is really interesting for RepublicanLand.  I guess the Southern Strategy really is biting the oldtimer’s country club asses.    Nate Silver characterizes it as going to war.

If you think the arguments between the Republican candidates have been bad, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Pundits, reporters and political analysts are going to really have at it. Two competing theories about the Republican race are about to come to a head, and both of them can claim a victory of sorts after South Carolina.

The first theory is simple. It can be summarized in one word: Trump! The more detailed version would argue the following:

So, um, isn’t it obvious that Trump is going to be the Republican nominee?

Not so, say the Trump skeptics. Their case is pretty simple also:

  • Trump is winning states, but he’s only getting about one-third of the vote.
  • Trump has a relatively low ceiling on his support.
  • Trump now has a chief rival: Florida senator Marco Rubio.

What did the Trump skeptics find to like about South Carolina? Quite a lot, actually. They’d point out that Trump faded down the stretch run, getting 32 percent of the vote after initially polling at about 36 percent after New Hampshire, because of his continuing struggles with late-deciding voters. They’d note that Trump’s numbers worsened from New Hampshire to South Carolina despite several candidates having dropped out. They’d say that Rubio, who went from 11 percent in South Carolina polls before Iowa2 to 22 percent of the vote on Saturday night, had a pretty good night. They’d also say that Rubio will be helped by Jeb Bush dropping out, even if it hadalready become clear that Rubio was the preferred choice of Republican Party “elites.”

“So what?” sayeth the Trump optimists. Second place means you’re a loser! There’s no guarantee that the other candidates will drop out any time soon. And as Trump himself has argued, it’s a mistake to assume that all of the support from Bush and other candidates will wind up in Rubio’s column. Some of it will go to Trump!

There’s still plenty of trouble coming from Bernie’s Thralls.  Amanda Marcotte discusses the recent attacks on the integrity of Dolores Huerta who is a modern day working class shero for many of the left’s most precious causes. It seems that many of them have a complete misunderstanding of intersectionality and of outreach to minority voters.

12742338_10207052476244024_91333420677859079_n

Things are tense right now because the Nevada loss is starting to look like a devastating blow to the Sanders campaign. From the beginning, the biggest obstacle to the Sanders campaign was convincing voters that this was about serious change instead of a bunch of privileged people posturing about how radical they are.

It seemed, until Saturday, that the campaign had a real shot at this. Sanders is an articulate candidate who sells his ideas well, and the improved poll numbers and real inroads with voters outside of the privileged white guy tent were heartening.

Unfortunately, Nevada showed that the inroads just weren’t enough. “He lost among women, blacks, nonwhites, and self-described Democrats,” Charles Blow of The New York Times writes. Early reports that Sanders had outperformed Clinton with Latino voters proved unlikely, as caucus results show that Clinton won the more Latino-heavy precincts. The Sanders message of economic populism is not resonating with people of color, women, or union workers— the very people you need to convince people your campaign is a serious one and not the electoral equivalent of the white guy in dreads wearing the Che shirt playing guitar in the quad.

Under the circumstances, it’s understandable why Sanders supporters would be a bit touchy about Dolores Huerta accusing them of disrespect. Huerta sits right at the intersection of three demographics — labor, women, people of colo r— that the Sanders campaign needed, and failed, to win over in order to convincingly argue that this is a real political revolution instead of a social signaling opportunity for people who want to be seen as radical.

So it’s easy to see why Sanders supporters want to yell at Huerta. She’s an easy punching bag for those frustrated with voters they believe should vote for Sanders but stubbornly refuse to do what Sanders supporters want them to do. (It’s similar to way that older female Clinton supporters have gotten bossy with younger women who vote Sanders.) Painting Huerta as delusional, corrupt or a liar makes the loss of these voting blocs easier to swallow, because the alternative possibility, that Clinton voters know what they are doing, is too painful to contemplate.

 I still continue to shake my head at the horrible treatment of Congressman Lewis by the Bernie Bros. This just sort’ve doubles down on those reactions.  South Carolina does not look like it will be kind to Bernie even though he’s saying many things Black Voters want to hear.  This could be because he frames much of his issues and candidacy as a criticism of President Obama.

There are lots of explanations, but the most important one is the most obvious. Sanders committed the cardinal sin for any Democratic presidential hopeful in 2016: He framed his candidacy as a critique of Barack Obama’s legacy. As much as conservatives revile the nation’s first African American president, the base of the Democratic Party reveres him — especially black voters, who can make or break a Democratic primary candidate’s campaign in many states.

What exactly did Sanders do? He suggested in 2011 that Obama needed a primary challenge from the left. He entered the 2016 race suggesting that the progressive agenda hasn’t been adequately advanced under Obama, and that he would do more to fight inequality and to take on the financial elites of Wall Street.

10367180_10207058809522352_797234900403048374_nClinton also has firm union support which was central to the Nevada win.

In an effort to dispute what they say is a false narrative that union voters are closely split between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a group of more than 20 unions representing more than 10 million workers released a statement on Monday reaffirming support for Mrs. Clinton.

“Secretary Clinton has proven herself as the fighter and champion working people and their families need in the White House,” says the statement, which was embraced by several large unions, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Service Employees International Union. “That is why, of all unions endorsing a candidate in the Democratic primary, the vast majority of the membership in these unions has endorsed her.”

The statement is partly a reaction to the aftermath of the announcement by the A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of unions, that it would not vote during its executive council meeting this week on whether to endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries, essentially postponing an endorsement until the primaries are no longer competitive.

“I have concluded that there is broad consensus for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to remain neutral in the presidential primaries for the time being,” Richard L. Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. president, said in an email to union officials last week.

12717754_10207051973751462_4412257531759487398_nThe dissection of the now-dead Bush campaign is starting.   Here’s the take from writers at WAPO.

At what would become a crucial moment, Bush’s team had no clear strategy for a rival who was beginning to hijack the Republican Party that the Bush family had helped to build, other than to stay the course set months earlier of telling Bush’s story to voters.

“There was no consensus,” senior strategist David Kochel said of the discussions about how to combat the threat of Trump’s candidacy. Other campaigns were wrestling with the same problems, but as the front-runner in the polls at the time, Bush would suffer more than the others.

The Republicans have become a party of insurgents and insurrectionists.  Many of them also hold extremist religious views. It’s no wonder that the penultimate party insider was an easy target and never got off the ground despite scads of cash.  Only Kasich and goofus Rubio continue to be the Great White Hope of the Country Club Set.  My guess is that Rubio may get the Trump VP nod eventually.  We’ll see how the Terrible Trio feeds on each other going into Nevada and March.

The photos today come via the dazzling Lynda Woolard who has started a twitter handle called @TweetsToHillary and featuring the New Orleans Krewe of Hillary.  We’re GOTV for Hillary!  How about you?

So, this has been a fairly political post today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list? 


Sunday Reads: Don’t like spiders or snakes, you fool…

Good Morning…

Yesterday was a crazy day for me, our car broke down, and it cost more to fix it than it was worth…so we ended spending most of Saturday in a dealer showroom. It was excruciating.

Then last night we had a candlelight vigil for my friend Derrick, who was killed last year. That was both upsetting and emotional…

So I’m writing this post blind, and hope that these links are not repeats for ya.

The latest news out of Chicago: Thousands Gather in Support of Chicago Teachers

the first teacher strike this city has seen in 25 years, a rally — not quite victory party, not quite vitriolic protest — was roaring just miles away.

Thousands of people, the largest celebration of union force since the strike began nearly a week ago, shook homemade protest signs in the air and wore the signature red T-shirts of the Chicago Teachers Union as they descended on Union Park, just west of downtown. The city skyline rose behind a stage from which a lineup of politicians, teachers, students and activists spoke about union strength and the need for better school conditions in the city.

They may be close to an agreement, or at least getting down to the nitty gritty, according to the Chicago Tribune:  Teacher rally as lawyers labor over details

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis becomes emotional Saturday as she greets supporters at a rally at Union Park. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 15, 2012)

Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal.

Parents can expect to wait until Sunday afternoon or later to find out whether their children will return to class Monday morning after missing a week of school because of the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Hundreds of union leaders are supposed to meet Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout.

While attorneys talked terms in private, the Saturday afternoon rally was filled with very public symbolism. Out-of-state teachers traveled to Union Park in solidarity with a city teachers union that has attracted national attention as organized labor looks for lessons in a fight with cash-strapped government.

After last night’s vigil, we went to eat at one of the local chicken joints…and Fox news was blazing away on the big screens. By the looks of all those “Fox News alerts” something big was going on.  Via HuffPo US orders some diplomats out of Sudan, Tunisia

The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the two countries due to security concerns over rising anti-American violence.

“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis is open and encouraged all U.S. citizens to depart on commercial flights. It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, torching cars in the parking lot, trashing the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighboring American school that is now unusable.

In Sudan, the warning said that while the Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, some remain and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level remains “critical” throughout Sudan, the department said. It noted that U.S. officials are already required to travel in armored vehicles and to get permission to travel outside Khartoum, where crowds torched part of the German Embassy and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Friday.

They are reporting some holdup in deploying the Marines because of the Sudan Government.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton worked the phones on Saturday, calling top officials from seven countries to discuss the situation following a wave of protest and violence over an anti-Muslim film that has swept across the Middle East and elsewhere in recent days. An obscure, amateurish movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a pedophile sparked the outrage.

I will post some updates in the comments below, it seems things are not cooling off any time soon.

The rest of today’s links will be on the human interest side.  Mars has been in the news a lot this week, check it out, from Geekosystem:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Shows It Snows Dry Ice on Mars

While Curiosity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s favorite rover isn’t the only one doing cool stuff with Mars. When it’s not getting some glamour shots of its ground-based cousin, the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) is still finding out all sorts of neat things about our nearest sibling in the solar system, like confirming the suspicion that Mars has instances in which it snows dry ice — carbon dioxide that has frozen at temperatures below -193 degrees Fahrenheit.

The super-cold snowfall takes place at the Martian poles, where solid dry ice has been known to exist for some time. It has never been observed as falling snow, though, so its origins, though suspected, remained uncertain. Not anymore, though. Analysis of clouds of CO2 imaged by the MRO in the Martian winter of 2006-2007 demonstrates that in addition to familiar, hydrogen dioxide snow, which was seen on the planet in 2008 by the Phoenix lander, the red planet gets snowstorms of frozen carbon dioxide.

Cool innit?

Also, from Mars, this time from the Opportunity Rover:

The above picture may not look like much, but it could be a huge deal. The photograph, taken by the Opportunity Rover at Mars’ Cape York site, shows iron spherules that researchers commonly refer to as “blueberries.” Similar formations are found here on Earth. The catch is that, here, they are formed with help from microbial organisms, suggesting that these unassuming iron marbles could be a telltale sign of ancient life on the red planet.

Typically just a couple millimeters across, iron blueberries are a pretty standard part of the Martian landscape, found on the ground of the Cape York site where Opportunity is doing its research or embedded in rock. They bear a distinct resemblance to the “Moqui marbles” found around the American southwest. Ranging in size rom BB pellets to cannonballs, Moqui marbles are not unlike geological M&Ms, consisting of a thin iron shell filled will sand.

A study published earlier this month in the journal Geology found strong evidence that the marbles are not a purely geological oddity, but were formed with an assist from microbes. That finding is a strong suggestion that the Moqui marbles’ Martian cousins may be a good candidate for indicators that Mars once sustained microbial life.

It looks like coral to me. 😉

This next history, archeology, science link is really interesting…King Tut Death: Epilepsy Killed Boy King Tutankhamun, New Theory Suggests Wow, as someone who suffers from epilepsy, it is strange to see how they have developed this new theory.

A British surgeon is touting a new theory regarding what killed King Tut, the Egyptian pharaoh who died at 19 and whose life and death have fascinated the public since his tomb was discovered in 1922.

[…]

People have attributed the cause of death to murder, a fall from a chariot that led to a fractured leg and even a hippopotamus attack. But according to Hutan Ashrafian, a surgeon at Imperial College London, Tut suffered from a hereditary form of epilepsy, the Washington Post reports.

Ashrafian said Tut’s supposed feminine features — the king has been depicted in statues and renderings as having had breasts and wide hips — are signs that he had a form of epilepsy that affects the temporal lobe, which is known to be involved with hormone release. The disease might be to blame for Tut’s death in addition to the deaths of several of his predecessors who died at young ages, Ashrafian claims.

Ashrafian also points to King Tut’s broken thigh bone, which he argues may have come from a fall during a seizure. The religious hallucinations Tut and his predecessors reportedly experienced were further evidence of the disease, Ashrafian told the Post, citing that seizures starting in the temporal lobe can result in such visions after sunlight exposure. The doctor reportedly came to these conclusions after reviewing family history of the king.

DNA studies have show that Tut suffered from malaria and a bone disorder that comes from inbreeding. (I could make a comment out Banjoville, but I won’t.)

Since the chests of both Tut and his father were missing, the researchers couldn’t definitively say whether or not Tut and his father had feminine features, which could suggest the presence of a genetic disorder.

However, the scientists noted that the mummies didn’t have signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome, conditions that would result in the development of breasts in males. Some researchers theorized that representations of Tut and his father with breasts could reflect the belief that gods were androgynous.

According to Discovery News, however, German researchers later disputed the conclusions, instead suggesting that abnormalities in Tut’s foot were indicative of sickle-cell disease.

In 2005, researchers ruled out the murder theory after conducting CAT scans. They concluded that a bone fragment found Tut’s skull was from the mummification process rather than a blow to the head.

With the conclusion of that article I have to post this:

King Tut

Yes, it is a link to Steve Martin’s performance on SNL back in the seventies….

On to another cool dude, this time he is not wearing “jammies” he is sporting a bow tie, I am talking of course about Dr. Who…this American Prospect article by Amanda Marcotte discusses women on the new Dr. Who series: Bowties Are Cool, but So Are Kickass Female Characters

(AP Photo/ Donald Traill)

Actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are seen on location filming “Doctor Who” in New York on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

For fans of the BBC’s reboot of the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, the beginning of season seven this September has a lot on offer so far: The Doctor in full badass hero form, a new potential sexy genius Companion, dinosaurs on spaceships, and Daleks, the villains that have been fan favorites since nearly the beginning of the series.

I wasn’t so crazy about the last remake, that doctor was too good looking and not “geeky” enough. I guess that is why I like the BBC’s latest version.  But as Marcotte points out, the role of women on the show is stereotypical female. The show is getting pushed into a new direction from Steven Moffat who took over the show this season.

has doubled down on tinkering with the show to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences. To do so, he decided to turn down the volume on sci-fi cheese and inject more story lines about love, family, and romance. While this idea appeals in the abstract to many feminists who want the world of sci-fi and fantasy to stop being so decidedly dudely, many feminists have strong objections to how Moffat went about it. His strategy was to take the Doctor’s new companion, a character role on the show that is traditionally all about wide-eyed curiosity and boundless courage, and turn her story line into one about getting married and having babies.

Ever since Amy Pond first set foot onscreen, feminist fans have complained that Moffat created a fun character, gave the role to off-the-charts charming actress Karen Gillan, and then turned her into a passive object whose main job is to be married off to her simpering boyfriend Rory Williams. To make it worse, the relationship fits neatly into what feminists have deemed the “nice guy” narrative: That if a man hangs in long enough and shows enough devotion, a woman is pretty much obliged to be with him, even if her heart isn’t in it. Last year, Sady Doyle wrote the definitive piece detailing feminist objections to any and all stories about the Pond marriage:

The moment the Doctor found out about Rory, the importance of time-traveling adventures decreased radically. Instead, the Doctor became a matchmaker and alien fairy godmother, single-mindedly devoted to making sure that Amy overcame her ambivalence about Rory and married him straight away. He referred to this process as “getting [Amy] sorted out.” From henceforth, both the Doctor and the show have been cramming every bony, whiny inch of Rory down our throats, in a doomed attempt to convince us that he is awesome.

Read the rest if you are a Dr. fan…or not. There needs to be some more kickass roles out there for women, obviously…no question about that, but I think you may find Marcotte’s take on the new female character interesting.

Finally, I hate spiders and snakes: Alien Snakes Help Spiders Overrun Guam

Yuk, this island is full of both!

he jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than do the forested areas of nearby Pacific islands thanks in part to the brown tree snake, according to a study published this week in the journal PLoS One.

The bird-devouring snake from northern Australia and nearby islands was introduced to Guam in the 1940s. The ravenous reptile became the dominant predator; bird numbers plummeted. By the 1980s, 10 of 12 native bird species had been wiped out, and the last two survive only in small areas, protected by intense snake-trapping.

Small-scale experiments show that areas without birds have more spiders – which makes sense, because birds eat spiders and the insects upon which spiders feed. But the sheer numbers of spiders found in Guam’s jungles were much greater than predicted by these small studies, suggesting the removal of birds from an entire forest can have unforeseen — and creepy — effects.

You can guess what those are, yes?

Study author Haldre Rogers, a researcher at Rice University in Houston, counted spiders throughout Guam’s jungles by counting spider webs (which correlate with spider population and are commonly used as a stand-in measurement).

The difference between the number of spiders Rogers and her colleagues counted on Guam and three nearby islands that still have birds “was far more dramatic than what any small-scale experiments had previously found,” she said in a statement from Rice.

“Anytime you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders,” Rogers said. And she thinks this may be true elsewhere. “With insectivorous birds in decline in many places in the world, I suspect there has been a concurrent increase in spiders.”

That creeps me out, but it does lead me to the title of today’s post.

So y’all have a wonderful day, and please share what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Wisconsin Recall Election – My Take on it

My anticipation about Tuesday’s election was high.  My information about the how, why, when and what of this recall election came from the Left side of politics.  I generally avoid the blogs and the radio and television shows of the Right.

I am pro-union because I am pro-worker.  No business can operate without employees, no business can succeed without employees.  Employees are a vital part of any business and are, all too often, dismissed or ignored when the success of owners and CEOs are applauded.  And unions give employees a voice in working conditions, employee safety, wages, health care and pensions.  Within large companies and/or corporations individual employees have relatively no chance to ensure their health and welfare, along with what they are paid.  That isn’t saying that employee versus employer is a good guy versus bad guy situation.  It is more like one person, with no weapons, facing another armed with guns, ample ammunitions, tanks, missiles and more.  Or even going into a poker game where one person is dealt a single card while the other has six cards.  It simply isn’t a level playing field.

Regardless of what news outlet you follow, there have been a wide variety of speculations, theories and hypotheses about why the election turned out as it did.  Personally, I don’t think the outcome can be narrowed down to one single reason that Walker won the election or that Barrett lost.

Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall.  The other two both lost and were recalled.  Each of the political pundits is feverishly competing to come up with the definitive explanation for this outcome.  Personally I think the bigger story is the solidification of the division between the opposing sides and the repercussions which will follow for, not only, the state of Wisconsin but the rest of the country as well.  Families and friendships have broken apart because of this battle.  For me it seems our  increasingly  contentious political system is becoming as toxic as the lead up to the Civil War and the animosity between those who supported slavery and the abolitionists.

Initially, I felt certain that the imbalance of money in the election would be the determining factor in the election (Walker is estimated to have outspent Barrett 7 to 1).  After reading some of the post election coverage, I am not so sure that the enormous amount of money spent (estimated at $60 million) really had much impact on how people voted.  In a piece at HuffPo, it was pointed out that the vote split in the recall almost matched the initial faceoff between Walker and Barrett.  Basically the people of Wisconsin voted this time the way they voted in the governor’s race in 2010.  The undecided voters only amounted to about 8%, with new voters accounting for around 13%.  To me that means that those 8% were the only ones who might have been influenced by “the money” issue.  The article goes on to say that Walker managed to turn out a higher percentage of his original supporters than did Barrett.

Joshua Holland has a similar take on Alternet called 8 Ways Right-Wingers Are Blowing Wisconsin Out of Proportion. He says the Right Wingers

claimed the outcome spelled doom for Obama this fall, marked the death of the labor movement and was a pure reflection of voters’ love for Scott Walker’s economy-crushing austerity policies.

He goes on to refute the rest of the Right Wing’s claims. Check out the post because it is worth your time.

Recall elections are few and far between in the U.S., as evidenced by my earlier point that Walker is only the third governor in our history to face a recall election.  Several sources, including the one I’ve cited above, have put forth that about a third of people polled don’t support recall elections unless the politician has done something egregious, like committing a crime.  Their political affiliation doesn’t matter.  The seriousness of the offense is the concern of to the voting public regardless of political party.  What that says to me is that most voters believe in democracy, meaning the voters have chosen and the person with the most votes, whether or not you voted for him/her, is the winner.  Shut up, bite the bullet and let the winner serve out their term.  (NOTE:  I am not saying that I believe we actually live in a democracy, but that the general public believes in democracy and that our American system is a democracy……..because that is what they have been told.  The formerly and currently disenfranchised probably have a different perspective).

Add to this that the opinion of unions, unlike in the mid 20th century, is mostly negative.  After about 50 years of chipping away at the number of American workers who belong to a union or have a union member in the family, the number of union workers has declined substantially.  Where once both union and non-union workers banded together in solidarity, it has become a mostly contentious relationship, where union workers are seen as greedy, lazy and recipients of unfair pay scales, benefits and pensions.  Big business has succeeded in demonizing the collective power of unions who were responsible for the 5 day 40 hours work week, minimum wage, paid sick time and the formation of OSHA to protect the safety of workers on their job.  For me, that is the story, not the fact that Walker successfully kept his job.  It’s the workers and employees of America  that are the losers in this race.

And then there is Jon Stewart’s take on the recall:

The Daily Show June 6, 2012

crossposted from ecocatwoman.blogspot.com


Wealthy and Powerful Politicians are Terrified of #OccupyWallStreet

Mayor Bloomberg is really upset. In an interview with the Village Voice today, He claimed that #OccupyWallStreet is trying to destroy jobs for working people in New York City. Funny, I had the impression they were protesting because so many Americans don’t have jobs.

“Everyone’s got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic,” Bloomberg said. “And if you focus for example on driving the banks out of New York City, you know those are our jobs … You can’t have it both ways: If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people.”

“The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive,” Bloomberg said in his weekly radio appearance with John Gambling. Taking a swipe at “some of the labor unions participating,” Bloomberg added that “their salaries come from – are paid by – some of the people they’re trying to vilify.”

I guess as far as Bloomberg is concerned, the bottom 99% don’t pay any taxes, and bankers are “working people.” That seems like a pretty skewed view of reality to me. But what do I know? I’m in the bottom 99%. And where did he get the idea that anyone is trying to drive the banks out of New York?

Bloomberg says the protests could affect tourism, but it seems to me that a lot of those protesters are from out of town and probably spending whatever money they have in NYC. But of course they aren’t wealthy or bankers, so they probably don’t count in Bloomberg’s world.

Bloomberg also issues a couple of not-very-subtle threats. He says “we’re not going to be able to pay our municipal employees,” presumably because all the bankers will leave town and there won’t be any tourists. I don’t get the logic there, but the threat to unions who have joined the protests is clear.

Finally, Bloomberg said that he’s letting the protesters “express themselves,” but he hinted that a crackdown could come at any time. I wonder if he realizes how much he sounds like Hosni Mubarak?

“The one thing I can tell you for sure,” he said…”is if anybody in the city breaks the law we will arrest them and turn them over the district attorneys.”

Hmmm…does that include bankers who broke the law? Or does the warning just apply to the bottom 99%?

And then there’s Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). Today spoke at the “Values Voters Summit,” which, according to MSNBC, is

an annual gathering of the religious right…[that] provides Republican politicians and presidential candidates an opportunity to display their conservative bona fides.

In the speech, Cantor expressed his fear of the #OccupyWallStreet protesters:

House GOP Leader Eric Cantor decried the protests that started several weeks ago in New York, and have spread to major cities across the country. Cantor said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in Washington that he is “increasingly concerned” about the “growing mobs” represented at the protests….

“Some in Washington have actually condoned the pitting of Americans against Americans,” Cantor said of the protests after accusing the Obama administration’s policies of being an “assault on many of our nation’s bedrock principles.”

Here’s a clip from the speech:

The hypocrisy almost takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Cantor speaks to a group of people who are segregated by their religion and political party and who as a group hate gays, women, and anyone who isn’t their kind of “Christian,” and he accuses the Occupy protesters–a very diverse group–of dividing Americans against each other.

Oh and Cantor loves the Tea Party, because they aren’t trying to divide Americans against each other. /snark

The good news is these two powerful politicians–and probably many others as well–are running scared. Let’s keep them that way!


Live Blog: Unions Join #OccupyWallStreet for March in NYC Today!

I have to admit, I’m getting really excited by the way the #OccupyWallStreet movement is taking off. I just got home and turned on MSNBC to find that they are covering the Wall Street protests live this afternoon. They have a number of network personnel on the ground, including Dylan Ratigan. And get this: even Beltway Bob is there! That has to be sign that the mainstream Villagers are taking note.

Right now Harrison Schultz, a spokesman for the protesters is on, and he just said, “I call this a revolution. No one is organizing it. It’s just happening.” He says the media is obsolete. The media thinks they are driving people to the protest, but that’s not true. If he would in charge of a major media outlet, he would be nervous now, because this would be happening whether the mainstream media paid attention or not. He says no one knows what is going to happen or where this will go.

The union march will take place at 4:30 this afternoon, according to MSNBC, but ABC says 3PM. If you have access to MSNBC right now, please watch with us and let us know if anything is happening in your area. Awhile ago, they put up a map to show where all the protests are now, and they were in so many states! I’ll see if I can find the map and post it. Meanwhile, here is a little about what we can expect this afternoon.

The cavalry has arrived in Lower Manhattan. Representatives from no fewer than 15 of the country’s largest labor unions will join the Occupy Wall Street protesters for a mass rally and march today in New York City.

The AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, and Transit Workers’ Union are among the groups expected to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of mostly young men and women who have spent the better part of three weeks sleeping, eating, and organizing from Zuccotti Square.

Their arrival is being touted as a watershed moment for the “Occupy” movement, which has now seen copycat protests spring up across the country. And while the specific demands of the “occupiers” remain wide-ranging, the presence of the unions – implicitly inclined to making more direct demands – may sharpen their focus.

Today’s action is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, when the protesters in Zuccotti Square march approximately one mile north to Foley Square, where they will be met by community and labor leaders. Then, at 4:30 p.m., they plan to match together back down toward Wall Street. They do not yet have a city-issued permit for the gathering, but are now pursuing one.

ABC is anticipating more arrests today, but on MSNBC, a spokesman said the unions got a permit for today’s march. Furthermore, if NYC chooses to try to break up the protests today, it will only help the growth of this movement.

Here’s a report from Democracy Now today:

UPDATE: MSNBC has moved on to other things for now. But the Guardian has a live blog. It figures we have to go to a British newspaper to find out what’s happening in our own country.

Occupy Wall Street website


Saturday: Sailboats at Sunset

Escaping Dystopia 2011...

Morning, news junkies.

Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…

Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:

This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”

That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.

Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.

Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…

Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words

“Depressing women’s history news of the week”

Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.

The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?

The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.

“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”

Hillaryland

  • The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.

Click to view HQ. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.

As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…

  • This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):

You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.

  • For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:

“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”

  • In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”

The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China

In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”

Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.

Timeout: Art break

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Tuesday Reads

Good morning, political junkies!! Let’s get right to the news.

President Obama gave a speech last night in which he made a pretty good case (IMO) for U.S. limited intervention in Libya. He stated that there were not going to be American boots on the ground and that the U.S. is essentially finished with its part of the operation–it will be up to the UK, France, and Italy to police the no-fly zone and to the Libyan people to depose Gaddafi and decide what comes next.

Surprisingly, Obama was a bit more animated than usual–actually emphasizing points with his voice and at times appearing almost passionate. At least the speech didn’t start to put me to sleep until the last several minutes.

Obama indicated that the U.S. will continue to support efforts to set up a functioning government in Libya, but that will be a non-military effort. If he stands strong with that, I think he’s finally done something I agree with and can support.

Obama also argued that just because we can’t intervene in every conflict doesn’t mean that we should never intervene at all. We have to choose our battles, and in the case of Libya we had a dictator who was using his military–and his air power to kill his own citizens indiscriminately. If he had managed to attack Benghazi he might have murdered hundreds of thousands of people.

Furthermore, Libyans had asked for our help, and our action was supported by other Arab countries and by the Arab League. For once the U.S. was doing something that most Arabs wanted us to do. If we had not acted, we would have seen an atrocity take place, and that would have encouraged dictators in other Arab countries to crack down violently on protesters.

Here is the full text of the speech, if you are interested. I do think Obama went on too long after making the case for Libya. The speech would have been much better if he had done that and then wrapped it up.

I must say, I do not understand the criticisms of this Libya policy that I’m seeing in the progosphere, and from some people here at Sky Dancing. Maybe I’m nuts, but I think the U.S. finally had a chance to do something good with its massive military power and at the same time we get some good PR in a part of the world that has long hated us–with justification because we have enabled most of the tyrants in the region. I’m glad Hillary was able to convince her boss to do the right thing.

I want to call attention to some very knowledgeable people who agree with my assessment–and we do appear to be in the minority.

Thomas Ricks was on Monday’s edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He said that he was struck by how many people either aren’t listening to what Obama, Clinton, and Gates are saying or they are discounting it out of hand.

Ricks said that these three are saying that the U.S. goals in Libya have already been achieved. The rebel forces are knocking on the door of Tripoli, thanks to the no-fly zone and some strategic bombing by the coalition countries. As Obama said last night, it is now up to Libyans to decide what to do with Gaddafi. We aren’t going to try to take him out.

Here’s what Ricks wrote on his blog after his appearance on Meet the Press with Gates and Clinton:

I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it:

Gates: “I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished.”

Clinton: “I think we’ve prevented a great humanitarian disaster.”

Gates: “we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to — to decline.”

Gates: “in terms of the military commitment, the president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.”

Gates: “I don’t think it’s [Libya] a vital interest for the United States. But we clearly have interests there. And it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

I also was struck at how much more assertive Clinton seemed than Gates. A friend of mine calls this “State’s War.”

Ricks also blogged about his take on Obama’s speech: Obama on Libya: Watch out, Saudi Arabia

What we saw in the NDU speech was a logical defense of what the president has ordered the military to do and an exposition of what the limits of the action will be. The cost of inaction threatened to be greater than the cost of action, but now we have done our part. Next role for the U.S. military is best supporting actor, providing electronic jammers, combat search and rescue, logistics and intelligence. That was all necessary, and pretty much as expected.

But I was most struck by the last few minutes of the speech, when Obama sought to put the Libyan intervention in the context of the regional Arab uprising. He firmly embraced the forces of change, saying that history is on their side, not on the side of the oppressors. In doing so he deftly evoked two moments in our own history-first, explicitly, the American Revolution, and second, more slyly, abolitionism, with a reference to “the North Star,” which happened to be the name of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper. If you think that was unintentional, read this.

Hmmm…I totally missed that. Follow me below the fold…

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