Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I thought I’d try to get off the topic of the midterm elections specifically and get on to some general things about why the U.S. Political System seems so completely screwed up right now.  What exactly has led us to the point where the Republicans seem to be a combination of the John Birch banksy-dreams_00349040Society and Theocrats and the Democratic Party sits idly by and twiddles its thumbs hoping the process works like it used to?

William Pfaff has a few things to say about this in an article titled “How Ronald Reagan and the Supreme Court Turned American Politics Into a Cesspool”.   One of the things that does completely amaze me is how the entire Reagan Presidency has turned into a narrative that’s more saga and drama than reality.  There’s some really interesting points here.  How did this election get so removed from reality in that people voted for one set of priorities when it came to issues like marijuana legalization and the minimum wage but then sent people to the District diametrically opposed to these policies?

The second significance of this election has been the debasement of debate to a level of vulgarity, misinformation and ignorance that, while not unprecedented in American political history, certainly attained new depths and extent.

This disastrous state of affairs is the product of two Supreme Court decisions and before that, of the repeal under the Reagan Administration, of the provision in the Federal Communications Act of 1934, stipulating the public service obligations of radio (and subsequently, of television) broadcasters in exchange for the government’s concession to them of free use in their businesses of the public airways.

These rules required broadcasters to provide “public interest” programming, including the coverage of electoral campaigns for public office and the independent examination of public issues. The termination of these requirements made possible the wave of demagogic and partisan right-wing “talk radio” that since has plagued American broadcasting and muddied American electoral politics.

Those readers old enough to remember the radio and early television broadcasting of pre-Reagan America will recall the non-partisan news reports and summaries provided by the national networks and by local stations in the United States. There were, of course, popular news commentators professing strong or idiosyncratic views as well, but the industry assured that a variety of responsible opinions were expressed, and that blatant falsehood was banned or corrected.

The two Supreme Court decisions were “Buckley v. Valeo” in 1976 and “Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission” in 2010. Jointly, they have transformed the nature of the American political campaign, and indeed the nature of American national politics. This resulted from the nature and characteristics of mass communications in the United States and the fact that broadcasting has from the beginning been all but totally a commercial undertaking (unlike the state broadcasters in Canada and Britain, and nearly all of Europe).

The two decisions turned political contests into competitions in campaign advertising expenditure on television and radio. The election just ended caused every American linked to the internet to be bombarded by thousands (or what seemed tens of thousands) of political messages pleading for campaign money and listing the enormous (naturally) sums pouring into the coffers of the enemy.

Previously the American campaign first concerned the candidate and the nature of his or her political platform. Friends and supporters could, of course, contribute to campaign funds and expenditures, but these contributions were limited by law in scale and nature. No overt connection was allowed between businesses or industries and major political candidates, since this would have implied that the candidate represented “special interests” rather than the general interest.

The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission verdict is well known and remains highly controversial since it rendered impossible the imposition of legal limits on political campaign spending, ruling that electoral spending is an exercise in constitutionally-protected free speech. Moreover, it adjudged commercial corporations as legal citizens, in electoral matters the equivalent of persons.

BanksyCleaningUpWhat role has Citizen’s United played in our elections? 

Don’t think Citizens United made a difference for the GOP in Tuesday’s midterms? The plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case thinks so.

Citizens United, our Supreme Court case, leveled the playing field, and we’re very proud of the impact that had in last night’s election,” said David Bossie, chairman of the conservative advocacy organization.

He complained that Democratic lawmakers were trying to “gut the First Amendment” with their proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 ruling, reported Right Wing Watch, which allowed corporations to pour cash into campaigns without disclosing their contributions.

Bossie said this so-called “dark money” was crucial to Republicans gaining control of the U.S. Senate and strengthening their grip on the U.S. House of Representatives.

“A robust conversation, which is what a level playing field allows, really creates an opportunity for the American people to get information and make good decisions,” Bossie said.

Besides the role of dark money, the number of states that will continue to enact voter suppression measures between now and 2016 is expected to increase.

Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.

In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”

In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.

In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.

In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.

Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states’ respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.

Suppression of voting rights and purposeful spread of lies, propaganda, and disinformation are likely to continue as the 2016 Presidential Political season begins.Will the Democratic Party learn anything from the last two disastrous mid term elections? banksy-w1200

This fall, Democrats ran like they were afraid of losing. Consider the issues that most Democrats think really matter: Climate change, which a United Nations report just warned will have “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” across the globe. The expansion of Medicaid, so millions of poor families have health coverage. Our immoral and incoherent immigration system. Our epidemic of gun violence, which produces a mini-Sandy Hook every few weeks. The rigging of America’s political and economic system by the 1 percent.

For the most part, Democratic candidates shied away from these issues because they were too controversial. Instead they stuck to topics that were safe, familiar, and broadly popular: the minimum wage, outsourcing, and the “war on women.” The result, for the most part, was homogenized, inauthentic, forgettable campaigns. Think about the Democrats who ran in contested seats Tuesday night: Grimes, Nunn, Hagan, Pryor, Hagan, Shaheen, Landrieu, Braley, Udall, Begich, Warner. During the entire campaign, did a single one of them have what Joe Klein once called a “Turnip Day moment”—a bold, spontaneous outbreak of genuine conviction? Did a single one unfetter himself or herself from the consultants and take a political risk to support something he or she passionately believed was right?

I’m not claiming that such displays would have changed the outcome. Given President Obama’s unpopularity, Democratic victories, especially in red states, may have been impossible.

But there is a crucial lesson here for 2016. In recent years, some Democrats have convinced themselves they can turn out African Americans, Latinos, single women, the poor, and the young merely by employing fancy computer systems and exploiting Republican extremism. But technologically, Republicans are catching up, and they’re getting shrewder about blunting, or at least masking, the harshness of their views.

We saw the consequences on Tuesday. According to exit polls, voters under 30 constituted only 13 percent of the electorate, down from 19 percent in 2012. In Florida, the Latino share of the electorate dropped from 17 to 13 percent. In North Carolina, the African-American share dropped from 23 to 21 percent.

If Hillary Clinton wants to reverse those numbers, she’s going to have to inspire people—people who, more than their Republican counterparts, are inclined toward disconnection and despair. And her gender alone won’t be enough. She lost to Obama in 2008 in part because she could not overcome her penchant for ultra-cautious, hyper-sanitized, consultant-speak. Yet on the stump this year, she was as deadening as the candidates she campaigned for. As Molly Ball put it in September, “Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens.”

Then, there is this: Former Republican Committeemen Claim Election Judges Coerced Into Voting GOP. banksy-wallpaper-tumblr-12-wide

A day after the election, officials are still counting ballots and the investigation into who made robocalls that allegedly persuaded many judges not to show up Tuesday is heating up.

Two former Republican committeemen are telling 2 Investigator Pam Zekman they were removed because they objected to those tactics.

Judges of election are appointed by their respective parties and they look at a judge’s primary voting records as part of the vetting process. But in these cases the former committeemen we talked to said that vetting crossed a line when judges were told who they had to vote for in the Tuesdays’ election.

One says it happened at a temporary campaign headquarters at 8140 S. Western Ave, which we’ve confirmed it was rented by the Republican Party where election judges reported they were falsely told they had to appear for additional training.

And a former 7th ward committeewoman says she witnessed the same thing at 511. E. 79th Street campaign workers calling judges to come in for additional training. She says there wasn’t any training.

“They were calling election judges, telling them to come in so they could get specific orders to vote for the Republican Party,” said Charon Bryson.

She says she is a Republican but objected to the tactic used on the judges.

“They should not be be pressured or coerced into voting for someone to get a job, or to get an appointment,” said Bryson.

Bryson says she thinks it is like “buying a vote.”

“If you don’t vote Republican you will not be an Republican judge, which pays $170,” she said.

The Board of Elections is now investigating whether calls to judges assigned citywide resulted in a shortage that infuriated the mayor.

“What happened with the robocalls was intentional. As far as we can tell somebody got a list, a list with names and numbers, called them, not to educate, not to promote the democratic process, but to sew confusion,” Emanuel said.

imagesScared by polls that show that people do not want Republican policies and by changes in demographics, Republicans have been pulling out the stops to turn back the tide.  However, none of these fundamentals seem to be driving voting trends or turnout.  WTF is wrong with people?  As a member of the White Women Constituency who seem to be one of the groups that continues to vote against their own interest, I can agree that we should all get our acts together now.  Nowhere was this more evident than in the Wendy Davis campaign.

Once more, with feeling: Greg Abbott and the Republican Party did not win women. They won white women. Time and time again, people of color have stood up for reproductive rights, for affordable health care, for immigrant communities while white folks vote a straight “I got mine” party ticket—even when they haven’t, really, gotten theirs.

The trend is echoed in national politics; we saw it play out across the country last night. To be sure, there are many factors that contributed to America’s rightward dive over the cliff: In a post-Citizens United electoral landscape, racist gerrymandering and voter ID laws appear to have had their intended effects of dividing and disenfranchising already marginalized voters.

But there’s another factor at play that Democrats fail to grapple with, and the Republican Party capitalizes on, time and time again: the historical crisis of empathy in the white community, one much older than gerrymandered congressional districts or poll taxes.

Let’s talk about what a vote for Wendy Davis meant: It meant a vote for strong public school funding, for Texas Medicaid expansion, for affordable family planning care, for environmental reforms, for access to a full spectrum of reproductive health-care options.

On the flip side, a vote for Greg Abbott meant a vote for the status quo, for empowering big industry and big political donors, for cutting public school funds and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, for overturning Roe v. Wade.

White women chose Greg Abbott Tuesday night. We did not choose empathy. Texas has been red for two decades. We do not choose empathy. We choose the fact that our children will always have access to education, that our daughters will always be able to fly to California or New York for abortion care, that our mothers will always be able to get that crucial Pap smear.

We chose a future where maternal mortality—but not our maternal mortality—rates will rise. We chose a future where preventable deaths from cervical cancer—but not our deaths—will rise. We chose a future where deaths from illegal, back-alley abortions—but not our illegal, back-alley abortions—will rise. We chose ourselves, and only ourselves.

Is white privilege such an enticing thing to us that we’ll sell ourselves out just to protect what scraps we’re thrown?

Anyway, between dark money, voter suppression, and the number of voters willing to vote against their policy beliefs and interests, we’re in trouble as a nation.  The Democratic Party just bailed on Mary Landrieu and I’m about to get a Senator that wants to raise Social Security eligibility to age 70, privatize Medicare with vouchers,  and defund student loans.  This doesn’t even count that he voted no to hurricane relief for his own constituents after Hurricane Isaac. At this rate, every white person in the country should get a tube of astrolube with their ballot.  Bend over folks, cause you’ve done it to yourselves!

What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Two Republican Candidates in Trouble

 Rick Perry readsGood Afternoon!!

Poor Rick Perry. He just can’t seem to catch a break. First there was his indictment on two felony charges. Then he had to face the further indignity that being indicted on felony charges means he can no longer swagger around with a concealed weapon on his person. According to the Washington Times,

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment on felony corruption charges means he can no longer carry a concealed weapon under state law.

Federal law also prohibits him from being able to buy more guns or ammunition, as long as the indictment is pending, Reuters reported.

I wonder if he knows that? Because when he was in New Hampshire last week, he told voter he didn’t understand the charges against him. From ABC News last Friday, Aug. 22:

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Texas Gov. Rick Perry returned to New Hampshire Friday for the first time since 2012, as he tries to rehab his political image after a failed presidential bid.

Speaking to a group of business leaders here, Perry tried to focus on substance, talking about issues like economic development and the border crisis, but his recent indictment on two felony charges was hard to ignore.

Asked about his indictment during a question-and-answer session with business leaders, Perry was a little unclear when explaining what felony charges were issued against him.

“I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here,” Perry said of the grand jury that indicted him.

A grand jury indicted Perry last week on two felony counts – abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official – over a 2013 veto threat.

Texas Governor Perry

At The Wire, Arit John has a funny post in which he describes Perry’s confusion as just one step in the grief process over the indictment, Rick Perry Enters the Final Stage of Indictment Grief: Confusion.

Maybe Rick Perry should have read up on his indictment charges before he started using them as a campaign talking point. During a speech last week, the Texas governor said he was being indicted for bribery, which isn’t actually true.

“I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here,” he said,according to the Houston Chronicle. But Perry is actually being indicted for abuse of power and coercing a public official, after he threatened to veto District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s budget if she refused to resign after her drunk driving conviction.

This is another oops moment for Perry, but it also signaled his transition into the 5th and, likely for him, final stage of indictment related grief: confusion. After grinning mugshot denial, angry ads “setting the record straight,” bargaining over who should pay the lawyers and depression over a loss of Second Amendment privileges, all that’s left for Perry is to be slightly unsure of what, exactly, people are accusing him of doing.

Read the details at the link.

Rick Perry gun3

Then there are the embarrassing stories about how Perry hasn’t paid the National Guard troops that he sent to guard the Texas-Mexico border. From Gawker:

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent National Guard soldiers to the Mexico border to much fanfare earlier this summer, he couldn’t say how long they’d be there. It turns out he also couldn’t pay them: At least 50 soldiers haven’t seen a paycheck and are getting sustenance and vehicle fuel from a local food bank.

Via KGBT News, the sudden call-up took those weekend warriors away from their day jobs and deposited them in the Rio Grande valley, but the service hasn’t covered their losses yet….

Perry—who’s busy being indicted for criminal abuse of power—and the National Guard didn’t respond to reporter queries earlier this week, but the pay lag could be related to the governor’s refusal to fund the mobilization he ordered, and his insistence that the federal government cover it. (In the meantime, Perry was supposedly attempting to finance the deployment “by diverting $38 million in public safety funds earmarked for emergency radio infrastructure,” the L.A. Times has reported.)

Yesterday afternoon, the Austin Statement reported that unnamed “National Guard officials” were claiming the stories about hungry troops were exaggerated, but it sounds like they may be just trying to clean up Perry’s mess.

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

OK, but if the $32 dollars is included in their paychecks, then that means the troops have to front the money for two meals a day until Sept. 5, right? Read the rest at the link.

CoatHangerPerryW480_zpsc5ed0bd9

Finally, yesterday Perry learned that his latest anti-abortion bill–the one that Wendy Davis filibustered–has been struck down by a federal judge. From AP:

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new restrictions that would have left seven abortion facilities in Texas come Monday. There are currently 19 abortion providers in the state, according to groups challenging the law.

“The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion,” Yeakel wrote in his 21-page ruling.

The trial in Texas was the latest battle over tough new abortion restrictions sweeping across the U.S.

The law would have required clinics “to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers,” according to The New York Times.

Adopted as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure last year, the rule would have forced the closing of more than a dozen of Texas’ remaining abortion clinics because they were unable to afford to renovate or to open new facilities that met the standards for such things as hallway width, ceiling height, advanced ventilation equipment, staffing and even parking spaces.

The closings would have left Texas, the second-biggest state by population and by size, with seven or eight abortion clinics, all in major cities like Houston and Dallas. Women in El Paso in West Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley in the south would have lived more than 150 miles — a distance ruled constitutional by a federal appeals court — from the closest clinic in the state, in San Antonio.

Fortunately for Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, her opponent Greg Abbott plans to appeal the decision.

Mitch McDonnell at Morris' Deli in Louisville, KY

Mitch McDonnell at Morris’ Deli in Louisville, KY

Mitch McConnell is also experiencing some difficulties in his Senate reelection campaign in Kentucky. He has been in a close race with Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes–they’ve been running neck-and-neck for a long time now. And recently McConnell has had a couple of setbacks. First there was the secretly recorded audiotape released by The Undercurrent Youtube channel, of McConnell’s remarks at a “meeting for millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers,” in which he promised to continue blocking Obama proposals and emphasized his opposition to raising the minimum wage. The contents of the tape were first reported in The Nation.

Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.”

What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:

“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”

Mitch McConnell gun

The article notes that the McConnell campaign has received $41,800 from Koch Industries in addition to outside groups who get funding from the Kochs.

“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage [inaudible]—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.”

In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a widely popular measure that would increase wages for at least 16.5 million Americans. Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans. At one point in the negotiations, he offered a deal to extend unemployment only if Democrats agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though the ACA does not add to the federal deficit.

More from The New York Times:

The [Undercurrent] channel released audio of three other Republicans in tough Senate races — Representative Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst, a state senator in Iowa — all of whom praised Charles G. and David H. Koch and the millions of dollars they have provided to help Republican candidates….

Republicans said the recordings were insignificant. Josh Holmes, a senior McConnell campaign aide, said the senator was in no way suggesting a strategy to shut down the government unless Mr. Obama capitulates.

Nonetheless, the audio recordings are likely to become fodder for the campaigns in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky. Democrats, most notably Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, have tried to demonize contributions by the Koch brothers as corruptive to the political system.

In Arkansas, especially, the audio could touch a nerve. Mr. Cotton, a freshman House member, skipped a popular political event in his state, the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, to attend the Koch brothers’ meeting in California. According to the audio, he was repaid with praise for his willingness to hew to the most conservative line, even if it meant voting against legislation popular in his state.

o-MITCH-MCCONNELL-JESSE-BENTON-facebook

Then yesterday, McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton was forced to resign because of a scandal involving his work for the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa in 2012. From CBS News:

Benton’s resignation, effective Saturday, comes barely two months before Kentucky voters choose between McConnell, a five-term incumbent and the top-ranking Senate Republican, and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In Iowa this week, former state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his switch of support from one Republican presidential candidate to another before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. He received thousands of dollars in “under the table payments” before switching loyalties from candidate Michele Bachmann, whose Iowa campaign he headed, to candidate Ron Paul, then lied to federal investigators about the money, the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors refused to say which campaign paid Sorenson. A representative for Bachmann didn’t immediately return voice and email messages seeking comment Friday. A phone message for Paul also wasn’t immediately returned.

Benton, a tea party insider, worked as a top aide to Paul. On Friday he said that he has been the target of “inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors” about his role in past campaigns that are “politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue.”

Benton had been hired to help McConnell appeal to Tea Party extremists in Kentucky. Is it possible McConnell misjudged his constituents? I sincerely hope so.

So I’ve ended up focusing this post on just two struggling Republicans–but there are plenty of others I could write about. I don’t think we should give up on Democrats holding the Senate yet. I know there is plenty of other news, but I thought I’d shift the focus to electoral politics today. What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Labor Day weekend!!

 

 


Thursday Reads: A Victory for Workers, Women Overcoming Misogyny, and Other News

Market Basket employee Tony Khater (left) celebrates with store director Al Jussaume (right) after learning of the sales agreement.

Market Basket employee Tony Khater (left) celebrates with store director Al Jussaume (right) after learning of the sales agreement

Good Morning!!

Score one for the workers! The Market Basket war is over and the the good guys won for a change. Late last night Arthur T. Demoulas signed an agreement to buy out his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas’ share of the business for $1.5 billion.

From The Boston Globe:

The epic battle over Market Basket that sparked an extraordinary worker revolt and captivated the public through the summer ended Wednesday when Arthur T. Demoulas reached a deal to buy the company from rival relatives for more than $1.5 billion.

Market Basket’s shareholders announced the deal at 11:15 p.m. after several days of suspenseful negotiations. Arthur T. Demoulas and his sisters will buy the shares of their cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and other relatives on his side of the family, who collectively own 50.5 percent of the company.

In a statement stripped bare of the emotion of recent days, the company and its shareholders asked managers, employees, and customers to return to stores to help get Market Basket running again. It also announced the reinstatement of Arthur T., who had been fired as president in June.

Market basket2

“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” the statement said. “All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations.”

The sale agreement, which will take months to formally close, ends a fight so bitter it took the intervention of the governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to help the Demoulas family resolve it after nearly a quarter-century.

The agreement authorizes Arthur T. to manage the business and stabilize operations at its 71 stores, where employee walkouts and customer boycotts had brought business to a virtual standstill for six weeks. He will also be able to rehire several managers who were fired along with him. However, until the deal closes, he will continue to work with the chief executives hired to replace him, Felicia Thornton and James Gooch.

Forbes: Warring Billionaires Finally Settle Family Score With Market Basket Deal.

Market Basket’s 25,000 employees will be heading back to work following a summer of discontent. The New England supermarket chain has been rocked by protests and customer boycotts since Arthur T Demoulas was ousted as President and CEO June 24th. He and his team, many of whom were also fired during the crisis, will be reinstated as management while the deal wraps up. They’ll work alongside co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, who were brought in by the board after Arthur T and his management team were removed.

“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” reads a statement from Arthur T. “All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations.”

“Tonight we raise a glass to Artie T and each other as we have achieved the most improbable of upsets,” writes the anonymous blogger behind website wearemarketbasket.com. The website as well as social media have been key sources of information for employees refusing to work following Arthur T’s dismissal. “Tomorrow we go to work and never, in the history of people going to work, will so many people be so happy to punch the clock.”

Arthur T2

Arthur T. will address workers this morning, according to the Boston Herald; but in the meantime, the job of restocking Market Basket shelves in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine has begun. From AP (via ABC News), Deliveries Roll Following Deal in Supermarket Feud.

Tractor-trailers bearing the Market Basket logo and laden with the tons of food it will take to restock the chain’s 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as vendor vehicles, pulled up to loading docks before business Thursday, just hours after the announcement late Wednesday that Arthur T. Demoulas paid $1.5 billion for shares of the company owned by the rival family faction, led by cousin Arthur S. Demoulas….

“All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations,” Arthur T. Demoulas said in a statement

“I feel like I won the lottery,” Market Basket truck driver Buddy Wemmers told The Boston Globe.

“I’m thrilled, this is epic,” said Tom Trainor, a district supervisor, told the Boston Herald.

Gary Sessa, a front end manager at the chain’s Tewksbury store, told WFXT-TV that company bakers came in at midnight after hearing the news and started baking cakes that say “Welcome back Artie T: Market Basket Strong.”

It does my heart good to see the workers win this battle. I hope this will encourage others to stand up against efforts to make businesses less worker-friendly and more profitable for stockholders. Perhaps it will even convince a few CEOs that treating their employees with respect can pay off in the long run.

Will Misogyny Never Die?

Kirsten Gillibrand with her preferred candidate for President

Kirsten Gillibrand with her preferred candidate for President

Senator Kirstin Gillibrand has a book coming out, and yesterday People Magazine released some tidbits from their interview with her. It seems that the mostly elderly men in Congress who are making decisions about women’s health and working conditions feel entitled to make judgmental remarks about their female co-workers’ bodies. The Washington Post reports: “I like my girls chubby,” a male Senator told Kirsten Gillibrand. Yes, really, by Jaime Fuller.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has a new book coming out, “Off the Sidelines,” and has been making the media rounds to promote it. The New York Post highlighted parts of the book today, in an article titled, “Gillibrand: Male colleagues called me ‘porky’ after baby.”

As awful as that headline is, things get worse in the book, according to the story. One quote in particular stands out. Gillibrand reveals that one male Senator, after she lost about 50 pounds, came up behind her and gave her waist a squeeze. “Don’t lose too much weight now,” he told her. “I like my girls chubby.” She says that he was one of her favorite senators(!).

As Gillibrand’s title infers, the book goes into detail about the things that women in politics still have to deal with that their male counterparts, well, don’t….

Gillibrand surely isn’t alone in having to deal with such comments with her male colleagues at the Capitol, although some of her encounters are jaw-droppingly bad/offensive. When she was still in the House, a Southern representative told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.”

I only wish Gillibrand had named names.

Fuller includes a link to this 2013 article by Olivia Messer at the Texas Observer, The Texas Legislature’s Sexist Little Secret in which she writes about what she experienced and observed as woman reporter covering the Texas legislature. The stories are probably representative of legislative bodies (pun intended) around the country.

It didn’t take me long to realize that as a woman, and especially a young woman, I’d be treated differently than my male colleagues. Within weeks, I’d already heard a few horrifying stories. Like the time a former Observerstaffer, on her first day in the Capitol, was invited by a state senator back to his office for personal “tutoring.” Or, last session, when Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton interrupted Marisa Marquez during a House floor debate to ask if her breasts were real or fake.

Thankfully I never experienced anything so sexually explicit. Instead, I encountered a string of subtle but demeaning comments. One of the first interviews I conducted for the Observer, in February, was with a male senator about an anti-abortion bill. I was asking questions about whether the bill would reduce access to abortion. At the end of the interview, as soon as I turned off my recorder, he said, “How old are you, sweetheart? You look so young.”

Another day, near the end of the regular session, I was at the Capitol (doing interviews for this story, coincidentally) when a House page stopped me on my way out of the chamber. “I’ve never seen you in here before,” he said. “Who do you work for?” I answered the question, assuming that he wanted to see my press badge. “Well, uh, this may seem forward,” he stammered, “but I’m not sure if I’ll ever see you again—could I maybe take you out to lunch or dinner some time?” He looked about 16, red-faced and innocent. I politely declined. When I walked over to the Senate chamber, a staffer stopped me. “Wow,” he said. “You look really beautiful today.” My face turned red. I thanked him and walked to a seat at the press table. It was the third time that day the staffer had mentioned my appearance, and I was beginning to feel that what I looked like mattered more than my work—at least to the men in the building. At a certain point, after enough of these run-ins—which included male staffers from both chambers, some of whom I knew to be married, hitting on me, making comments about my physical appearance, touching my arm—it finally occurred to me that, when I was at work, I was often fending off advances like I was in a bar.

What surprised me was how many women who work in the Capitol—legislators, staffers, lobbyists, other reporters—felt the same way. Everyone, it seemed, had a story or anecdote about being objectified or patronized.

Messer’s article is long, but it’s fascinating reading. At one point she writes about the night Wendy Davis and her female colleagues “took over the capital” and filibustered an anti-abortion bill.

Here’s another great commentary on the Gillibrand story by Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast, Senate Pigs Called Kirsten Gillibrand ‘Porky’.

Clueless Politico reporter John Bresnahan

Clueless Politico reporter John Bresnahan

Naturally, these stories about sexism among male politicians were all over Twitter yesterday. One male Politico writer named John Bresnahan doubted whether Gillibrand was really telling the truth. He got shot down pretty thoroughly and later apologized and stopped tweeting for the night. Even plenty of young men like Bresnahan just don’t get it.

Politics isn’t the only field where men treat women like pieces of meat. Women in the tech field usually have plenty of horror stories about things their male colleagues. Here are just a few random links to stories about it from the past couple of years.

The New York Times, Technology’s Man Problem.

The Washington Post, Snapchat, sexism and the reason women don’t stay in tech.

The Washington Post, Google statistics show Silicon Valley has a diversity problem.

Alternet, High-Tech Industry Focused on Babes and Boobs Needs Killer Sexism App.

Business Insider, 9 Stomach-Churning Posts From Secret That Show Awful Sexist Behavior In The Tech Industry.

Women who write critically about video games–or even play games on-line–are targets for hatred and violent threats. This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen: Feminist video game critic forced to leave her home after online rape and death threats. Raw Story reports:

Anita Sarkeesian, creator of an online video series analyzing problematic representations of women in video games, was forced to leave her home on Tuesday after death threats made online against herself and her family, Polygon reported.

“Some very scary threats have just been made against me and my family,” Sarkeesian posted on Tuesday. “Contacting authorities now.”

After confirming she had found a safe place to stay, Sarkeesian posted a screengrab of the threats, posted by a Twitter account calling itself “Kevin Dobson,” which identified her address and her parents, as well as several vulgar threats, including one to “ram a hot tire iron up [her] c*nt” (read the messages at Raw Story)

Sarkeesian reported the threats a day after she released a new episode of her series, Feminist Frequency, dealing with games that feature sexualized female victims or female characters introduced solely to highlight either a villain’s aggression or provide motivation for players to complete their missions.

The effect of introducing these “mature themes,” she argues in the episode, is the trivialization of painful experiences that are all too common….

“When games casually use sexualized violence as a ham-fisted form of character development for the bad guys, it reinforces a popular misconception about gendered violence by framing it as something abnormal, as a cruelty committed only by the most transparently evil strangers,” she says in the video. “In reality, however, violence against women — and sexual violence, in particular — is a common everyday occurence, often perpetrated by ‘normal men,’ known and trusted by those targeted.”

A few more links to interesting stories:

stonehenge

CNN, U.S. official says 1,000 Russian troops enter Ukraine.

Christian Science Monitor, UN: Ebola cases in W. Africa could top 20,000.

Wall Street Journal, Rebels in Syria Capture Border Crossing With Israel.

Reuters, U.S. air strikes on Syria would face formidable obstacles.

New York Times Video, Michael Brown’s Body (an amazing collection of interviews with residents of Michael Brown’s neighborhood).

Christian Science Monitor, What Republican wave? (Writer Doug Mataconis doesn’ think a Republican takeover of the Senate is inevitable).

E on Line, Discovery Channel’s Sons of Guns Canceled After Star Will Hayden Is Charged With Raping His 12-Year-Old Daughter.

Washington Post, Report reveals the horrors of 1,400 sexually abused children in a British town and the system that failed them.

WBUR Boston, Growing Number Of War Correspondents Work For Themselves.

Nature World News, Mystery of Sailing Stones Unveiled in Death Valley.

Discovery News, 2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered.

Huffington Post, Archaeologists Discover 15 Previously Unknown Monuments Buried Around Stonehenge.

News.Com.AU, The truth about Stonehenge: New survey reveals more secrets

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday!


Lazy Saturday Reads

cat computer sleeping

Good Morning!!

Southern California has been hit with a “5.1 magnitude earthquake” and “more than 100 aftershocks,” causing “relatively minor damage” according to the LA Times:

Most of the aftershocks have been small, but some were strong enough to be felt in the areas around the epicenter in northwestern Orange County…. Fullerton police said early Saturday that as many as 50 people had been displaced by the quake. Several buildings are being investigated for possible structural damage, including some apartment buildings. The quake, centered near La Habra, caused furniture to tumble, pictures to fall off walls and glass to break. Merchandise fell off store shelves, and there were reports of shattered plate glass windows. Residents across Orange and Los Angeles counties and the Inland Empire reported swinging chandeliers, fireplaces dislodging from walls and lots of rattled nerves.

The quake also caused a rock slide that damaged a car as well as numerous water main breaks.

Third-grade teacher Barbara Castillo and her 7-year-old son had just calmed their nerves after an earlier 3.6 temblor and sat down in their La Habra home when their dogs started barking and the second, larger quake struck, causing cabinet doors to swing open, objects to fall off shelves and lights to flicker. “It just would not stop, it was like an eternity,” said Castillo, an 18-year La Habra resident.

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 continues,

with various objects being reported by searchers, but this latest report from CNN is just nuts, Malaysia official: Maybe, just maybe, they’re alive.

Earlier this week, loved ones of those aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 heard this: “All lives are lost.”

But Saturday, a Malaysian official met with relatives and then told reporters he had not closed the door on the possibility that survivors may exist among the 239 people aboard the Boeing 777-200 ER that went missing March 8.

“Even hoping against hope, no matter how remote, of course we are praying and we will continue our search for the possible survivors,” said Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transportation minister.

“More than that, I told the families I cannot give them false hope. The best we can do is pray and that we must be sensitive to them that, as long as there is even a remote chance of a survivor, we will pray and do whatever it takes.”

How cruel can you get? In China relatives were alleging some kind of conspiracy.

“They’re all still alive, my son and everyone on board!” yelled Wen Wancheng, 63, whose only son was among the passengers. “The plane is still there too! They’re hiding it.”

He held aloft a banner that read: “Son, mom and dad’s hearts are torn to pieces. Come home soon!”

I can’t even begin to imagine the torture those people are going through. To give them false hope is incredibly irresponsible.

Please don’t skip over this brief but must-read piece on the ongoing scandal involving the US nuclear arsenal.

The Daily Beast: Cleaning House at Nuke Command Raises Bigger Issues.

Nine Air Force officers were fired Thursday and dozens more disciplined for their roles in a cheating scandal involving airmen in charge of the nuclear weapons arsenal. But one source familiar with the Air Force program told The Daily Beast that the punishments handed out were more show than substance, and that problems in the nuclear program go far deeper than what has been addressed so far. According to a retired senior Air Force officer familiar with the Global Strike Command (the headquarters responsible for the Air Force nuclear arsenal), who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, the punishments issued yesterday at the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were a good show, but wouldn’t affect much substantive reform. “This issue needs leadership,” he said. “You’ve had two stars and three stars [general officers] running the reorganized nuclear enterprise of the U.S. Air Force who have been unable to raise morale, transform the culture and forestall this very type of thing.”

Read the rest at the link. I can’t understand why this scandal isn’t getting more attention. We’re talking about the people who are responsible for our nuclear weapons!

I have several articles on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Russian troops massing near Ukraine border

Russian troops massing near Ukraine border

There have been reports in the past few days that Russian troops are gathering on the Ukraine border and medical and food stations are being set up. From The Wall Street Journal: Russian Buildup Stokes Worries; Pentagon Alarmed as Troops Mass Near Ukraine Border.

Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, U.S. officials said. Such an incursion could take place without warning because Russia has already deployed the array of military forces needed for such an operation, say officials briefed on the latest U.S. intelligence. (Follow the latest developments on the crisis in Ukraine.) The rapid speed of the Russian military buildup and efforts to camouflage the forces and equipment have stoked U.S. fears, in part because American intelligence agencies have struggled to assess Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s specific intentions. The troop movements and the concealment—involving covering up equipment along the border—suggest Mr. Putin is positioning forces in the event he decides to quickly expand his takeover of the Crimea peninsula by seizing more Ukrainian territory, despite Western threats of tighter sanctions.

On the other hand, Russian officials are publicly denying any plans to invade Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama yesterday, supposedly to discuss diplomatic options. But can Putin be trusted? What would an invasion of Ukraine look like? Although, he suspects it won’t happen, Mark Galeotti at Business Insider provides an answer to that question.

In brief, the aim would be a blitzkrieg that, before Ukraine has the chance properly to muster its forces and, perhaps more to the point, the West can meaningfully react, allows the Russians to draw a new front line and assert their own ground truth, much as happened in Crimea (though this would be much more bloody and contested). This would not be a bid to conquer the whole country (the real question is whether they’d seek to push as far as Odessa, taking more risks and extending their supply lines, but also essentially depriving Ukraine of a coastline) but instead quickly to take those areas where there are potentially supportive local political elites and Russophone populations, and consequently pretexts (however flimsy) to portray invasion as ‘liberation.’

He goes on to explain in further detail, and it’s well worth reading. Here a few longer think pieces on Obama’s and Putin’s goals in the Ukraine crisis. Check them out if you have the time and inclination. Fareed Zakaria: Obama’s 21st-century power politics Mosaic: It’s Not Just Ukraine The Guardian: How Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea changed the world

In domestic political news . . .

Gallup reports some good news for Democrats: Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown. stmc_lm6lus16wuy9y-jyq

From 1993 to 2003, 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned to the Democratic Party, while 42% were Republicans or Republican leaners. That time span included two years in which young adults tilted Republican, 1994 and 1995, when Republicans won control of Congress. Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%. This Democratic movement among the young has come at a time when senior citizens have become more Republican. The broader U.S. population has shown more variability in its party preferences in recent years, shifting Democratic from 2005 to 2008, moving back toward the Republican Party from 2009 to 2011, and showing modest Democratic preferences in the last two years. A major reason young adults are increasingly likely to prefer the Democratic Party is that today’s young adults are more racially and ethnically diverse than young adults of the past. U.S. political preferences are sharply divided by race, with nonwhite Americans of all ages overwhelmingly identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic.

In Texas, Greg Abbot is still acting like a complete idiot. From Think Progress: Sidestepping Equal Pay Attacks, Greg Abbott Tries To Accuse Wendy Davis Of Gender Discrimination. Huh?

Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis

Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis

Texas gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) faces continued tough scrutiny over his campaign’s position against equal pay for women. His campaign has twice justified the gender wage gap and implied he would veto an equal pay bill that makes it easier for women to sue. Instead of addressing the criticism directly, Abbott has chosen to fire back accusations that Wendy Davis, his opponent in the gubernatorial race, is “defending gender discrimination.” Over the last week, the Abbott campaign has posted Facebook ads that call Davis a hypocrite on the gender wage gap, linking to a petition on his site that describes a client Davis once reportedly defended:

Sen. Wendy Davis continues to launch attacks over equal pay while shielding her own record of defending gender discrimination. And while on the Fort Worth City Council, Sen. Davis approved funds to defend a former city employee with a “legs and lipstick” policy.

Here, Abbott is referring to a routine vote Davis cast as a city council member that granted legal counsel funds to a Fort Worth employer sued for harassment and discrimination.

Why on earth would anyone vote for this man? The media has been taking note of the sexist attacks on Chris Christie’s former aide Bridget Kelley. Amy Davidson has a summary at The New Yorker: Chris Christie, Surrounded by Emotional Liars? Check it out if you can. This might be a good sign for better reporting in the New York Times Magazine. Jake Silverstein editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly has been hired to revamp the stagnant NYT Sunday magazine.

Under Mr. Silverstein, Texas Monthly has been nominated for 12 National Magazine Awards and won four, including the general excellence prize.

In an interview on his new role at The Times Magazine, Mr. Silverstein said, “I think this is a remarkable moment for the magazine to commit to the kind of long-form impactful journalism that has made the magazine one of the most influential publications throughout its history.”

Mr. Silverstein, 38, holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin and became editor of Texas Monthly in 2008. He is only the fourth editor of that magazine, which published its first issue in February 1973.

In the Boston bombing trial . . .

Accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys have requested records of any FBI contacts with Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan and any FISA court ordered surveillance of the Tsarnaev brothers. From the Boston Globe: FBI pushed elder Tsarnaev to be informer, lawyers assert.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asserted Friday that his older brother and alleged accomplice had been encouraged by the FBI to be an informant and to report on the Chechen and Muslim community, according to court records. “We seek this information based on our belief that these contacts were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week of April 15, 2013, and thus material to the defense case in mitigation,” the lawyers said in their court filing. “We base this on information from our client’s family and other sources that the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor [his father], Zubeidat [his mother] and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his Internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community

“We do not suggest that these contacts are to be blamed and have no evidence to suggest that they were improper, but rather view them as an important part of the story of Tamerlan’s decline. Since Tamerlan is dead, the government is the source of corroboration that these visits did in fact occur and of what was said during them.”The lawyers suggested that Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have misinterpreted his interactions with the FBI as pressure from the agency, and that they could have “increased his paranoia and distress.” The defense wants to investigate those factors as it seeks to portray Tamerlan as a dominating family figure who may have pushed the younger Dzhokhar to take part in the April 15 bombings last year. Tamerlan was killed days after the bombings in a confrontation with police in Watertown. Good luck with prying anything loose from the FBI.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your recommended links in the comment thread, and have a terrific weekend!


It’s a Wonderful Life: Walmart Employees, Homeless People and Texas Women

$(KGrHqEOKiEE6UPng66wBOq1oPst7w~~60_35Good Afternoon

Huh?

Yeah…would you look at that.

3:00 pm has come and gone.

<————- And take a look at this. I found this picture on Pinterest, is it me…or does the left side of her jacket look like Texas? I don’t know, but when I look at that picture, I think of Wendy Davis running for Governor of Texas!  Wendy had some choice words for Republicans regarding the SCOTUS decision to give all of Texas Women the ol’ “fuck you!” More on this later…but, first…let’s get this “morning” post started.

Latest news on State Senator Creigh Deeds: Three hospitals with psychiatric units had room for Deeds’s son on Monday – The Washington Post

At least three hospitals near Bath County had available beds the day before the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds apparently stabbed his father and then shot himself to death, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Deeds’s condition was upgraded to good at a Charlottesville hospital as investigators and mental-health officials continued to search for an explanation of what happened. Austin Deeds, who was 24, had undergone a psychiatric evaluation on Monday, but officials initially said he was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

It remained unclear Wednesday which hospitals were called and why Austin Deeds was not taken to one of the available facilities.

Uh oh…

And over in Albuquerque, Voters Defeat Anti-Abortion Measure – NYTimes.com

Voters here on Tuesday defeated a ballot question that sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, delivering a critical setback to an anti-abortion movement that had sought to use this progressive city to recalibrate the national debate around women’s reproductive rights.

The referendum, the first of its kind in the country for a municipality, was marked by record turnout and aggressive tactics by volunteers on both sides, who sought to capitalize on the controversy and passion surrounding the issue to drive voters to the polls. For political strategists, it also offered a chance to test the way their message on abortion resonated among Hispanics, a key constituency that accounts for nearly half of the residents in Albuquerque and New Mexico, and is one of the fastest-growing populations in the country.

“This was a clear counterpunch to the Republicans and right-wingers who came from out of state to push their agenda on us,” Sam Bregman, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, which campaigned hard against the ban, said in an interview.

Give that piece a read, some interesting quotes from the local people in Albuquerque. The vote was 55 % to 45% btw…

You may remember the outcry from David Horsey, cartoonist at the LA Times, when there was a possibility the Koch Brothers would be buying the paper out? Think back and then read this: Tribune Co. Cutting 700 Newspaper Jobs Amid Dropping Advertising Revenues – Forbes

Tribune Co., the parent of several legendary newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, announced restructuring plans that include cutting 700 jobs, mainly from its newspaper unit.  Facing falling advertising revenues, Tribune has been engaged in aggressive cost-cutting which has helped the company remain profitable, its latest earnings show.

Staff reductions amount to about 6% of Tribune’s workforce, and will be focused on operations personnel at their publishing unit, rather than on editorial staff, chief executive Peter Liguori said, according to the LA Times.  At the same time, the company is looking consolidate advertising and circulation functions which were previously managed by each of the eight newspapers in their portfolio individually.

I wonder what Horsey will do with this nugget of news now. (He is really such a talented and ballsy cartoonist…)

Alright. Now that the newsy part of the post is over, here comes the meaty part.

Did you hear the news? Hollywood is making a sequel, but this in no ordinary sequel. It’s not Rocky 15 or Hobbitt III…this time Hollywood is going back to it’s roots…back to it’s heyday…it is going back to Bedford Falls.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Sequel in the Works: Jimmy Stewart Christmas Classic Gets a Follow-Up | Variety

Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. are collaborating on production of a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

The sequel, titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” is being financed by Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners who will also produce along with Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird. The duo are aiming to get the movie into theaters for the 2015 holiday season.

Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter “Zuzu” in the original, will return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how the world would be if he had he never been born.

I am negative by birth, being a Sicilian and all, but there are some things (whether they be books or film) that do not and should not be treated to “the sequel.”  It’s a Wonderful Life is not one of them.

I guess I am not the only one who feels this way, Mike Fleming Jr at Deadline had this to say: Beyond ‘Wonderful Life’, What Other Sacred Cows Should Be On The Sequel Menu?

Our sister publication Variety just bannered an exclusive that It's A Wonderful Life Sequelthere is a sequel in the works to the charming Frank Capra-directed Jimmy Stewart film It’s A Wonderful Life. Here, the actress who played Bailey daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes) returns as an angel to advise George Bailey’s grandson (cleverly named George Bailey) because he has turned into a douchebag. While my first impulse is to label this a sign of the apocalypse, particularly after I see stories about Robert De Niro talking about a Taxi Driver sequel, maybe the Wonderful Life‘s backers at Star Partners are on to something. Even if something is considered a sacred cow, if that cow was run through the slaughterhouse, wouldn’t there be some tasty steaks for all? I need to stop judging.

No, please Mike..judge…judge!

You could take the progeny of a number of classic films and continue those beloved story lines. Why, maybe Rosebud didn’t completely burn up in the fire at the end of Citizen Kane. It got saved by Charles Foster Kane’s son or nephew, and their grandson finds it in the barn, pimps it out and uses Rosebud to conquer the downhill wooden sledding circuit, which for sequel purposes has been approved as an event in the next Winter Olympics. Any other classics that could be sequelized with the combination of ingenuity and public domain rights expiration?

After watching weeks of The Story of Film on TCM, I see just how crappy cinema has become here in the US. I knew it was shit for a long time now, but there is nothing like seeing some of those wonderful classic films through a film historian’s eyes to get a true feel for what we have lost. And I think what is more important, what we are losing in not moving forward towards innovation in film.

In the meantime, here in America…Walmart employees are really living the “wonderful life.” If they aren’t in fear of being shot by the stupid idiots that shop at their stores: Gun in pants pocket fires in Walmart; owner keeps shopping

Police said a man whose gun accidentally fired in his pants pocket while at Walmart on Sunday kept on shopping, paying for his items and leaving as though nothing had happened.

Christopher William Strube, 50, was arrested Monday and charged with discharging a weapon within city limits.

Strube was shopping Sunday afternoon with his .45-caliber gun in his pocket, when a bottle he was carrying bumped into the gun and caused it to fire one round, police said. Strube told police that after the gun went off, he paid for his items and left the store.

Employees and customers said they heard a gunshot and smelled gun powder. Police later found a .45-caliber bullet inside a can of beans.

These Walmart employees are collecting cans for other Walmart employees who are too poor to feed themselves at Thanksgiving.

Is Walmart’s request of associates to help provide Thanksgiving dinner for co-workers proof of low wages? | cleveland.com

Walmart Holding Canned Food Drive For Its Own Underpaid Employees | ThinkProgress

Wal-Mart Asks its Low-Wage Workers to Donate Food to its Low-Wage Workers | The Poverty Line, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com

Of those three articles, I say read the last one by Bill Moyers.

This is very disturbing and upsetting for me on a very personal level. You all know why…Walmart puts food on our table, and I was always told not to “shit where you eat.” Walmart should increase their employee pay…geez, WTF is wrong with them. The Simple Path to a Living Wage at Walmart

In the past week, both a senior editor at Fortune magazine and the liberal think tank Demos have made similar proposals for how Walmart could greatly increase worker wages without harming its business prospects. What is this mysterious financial magic?

The two proposals differ a bit in the details, but they use roughly the same mechanism to reach the same goal, so we’ll go with Demos’s proposal (described in full here) for ease of explanation. Basically, the argument is this: Walmart throws off enough cash in profits each year that it could easily raise the wages of its workers by about 50%, so that they all made about $25K per year, which is what activists are seeking. Currently, the company just uses that cash for other purposes. Like what? Well, Demos points out that Walmart spent $7.6 billion last year buying back its own stock shares, a maneuver designed to buoy the stock price and dividend payments.

[…]

Demos estimates that if Walmart had dedicated last year’s share repurchasing money to worker wages, it could have ensured that all employees working 32 hours or more per week made at least $25K per year. (Something that is not unknown in the retail world.)

The key to this plan is simply a realistic look at which stakeholders benefit from which economic decision. Buying back shares can be popular on Wall Street, but it doesn’t change Walmart’s actual business operations one whit. The money, then could either provide a living wage to close to a million workers who currently do not make enough to provide for their families, or it could be used to vastly increase he personal wealth of the richest and greediest family in America.

Greed. Happy Thanksgiving.

In another sad story about living a “wonderful life” this time in Hawaii, at the hands of a “democrat.” Oh, this is disgusting. Worst Person in the World: Vigilante State Rep. Smashes Shopping Carts Used by Homeless People | The Daily Banter

brower_homeless_smash

Contrary to popular myths and stereotypes, Hawaii, and especially Honolulu, has a serious problem with poverty and homelessness. It’s not hard to spot tent cities in parks and near industrial areas, where hula dancers, surf boards and mai tais are nowhere in sight. In fact, Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, with a population of around 17,000.

So along comes State Rep. Tom Brower — and his sledgehammer. Brower, wearing an Armani hat, has taken it upon himself to destroy and confiscate shopping carts used by homeless people.

Video at the link if you can stand it.

Brower, a Democrat, was quoted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as saying, “If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.” Later, on a local news station, Brower told a reporter, “I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets.”

Yeah. He’s quite a hero, isn’t he? Destroying one of the only means by which homeless people can carry their few possessions — or, in some cases, earn some extra money by collecting recyclable cans and bottles. Specifically, Brower smashes the wheels off the carts, making them impossible to use. So instead of homeless people pushing shopping carts, Hawaii will have a homeless population dragging bashed up, wobble-wheeled carts now. Nice guy.

But it gets worse.

Yeah, is sure does. Go and read what this guy does the homeless people who sleep during the day in the streets of Honolulu. He must really want to keep Honolulu off of France’s “Watch Your Ass” US City Hot List: France to its citizens: Beware of downtown Atlanta after dark | www.ajc.com

The French don’t think Downtown Atlanta is such a safe tourist destination after hours.

Because of that, the city “too busy to hate” has found itself on a list of U.S. cities foreign countries warn their traveling citizens about.

The Washington Post recently named 16 American cities that governments from overseas suggest that people visiting the U.S. take precautions when touring.

Among those was Atlanta, whose downtown area the French Consulate suggested might not be the safest place to be after hours.

“Be vigilant in isolated areas of the city center (downtown) after the closure of the offices and to focus on the travel by taxi at night,” a translation from French of the warning about Atlanta.

Hmmm, maybe those homeless people know something about dangerous places after hours? Like it would be better and probably safer to stay awake at night? (Yeah, it is a stretch, I know…)

Moving on…to a “wonderful life” as a woman: ‘Economics Of Birth Control’ Infographic Is The Most Important Thing You’ll See Today

Birth control affects the global economy — on a much larger scale than you might think.

This infographic, created by Population Action International, shows just how much a lack of access to contraception impacts not just women and their children, but the amount countries spend on basic services for entire populations. Yet, sadly, only 22 percent of family-planning needs are being met worldwide.

According to Population Action, “For every $1 we invest in family planning, we save $4 in other areas like education, public health, and water and sanitation.” Check out the numbers below. They paint a pretty depressing picture — and one that needs to change ASAP.

Infographic at the link. But does it really matter, because according to Stuart Varney, Fox Business host: Maybe ‘something about the female brain’ makes women bad tech CEOs | The Raw Story

Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Monday addressed the lack of women executives in the technology industry by suggesting that there was “something about the female brain” that deterred companies from hiring them.

Early last month, filings for Twitter’s plan to publicly offer shares showed that the company was dominated by male executives.

“Should tech companies feel obligated to put women on the board or to make women top executives just to be politically correct,” Varney asked the Tea Party News Network’s Scottie Hughes on Monday.

“No business should ever be obligated to bring on a woman,” Hughes insisted. “They should want to, but you’re not seeing this in Silicon Valley for some reason.”

“But why is that?” Varney wondered. “It’s a very difficult question to ask because it’s politically incorrect. Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech? Is there?”

Asshole.

At least we have Wendy Davis as a voice for women out there: Wendy Davis Slams Texas Republicans After Supreme Court Upholds State Abortion Restrictions

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), Democrats’ popular candidate for governor of Texas, slammed Texas Republicans following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the state to continue enforcing its strict anti-abortion law.

“This law is an abuse of power by politicians in Austin. Clinics will close and women’s health will be hurt,” Davis said in a statement to TPM on Tuesday. “I trust women to make their own decisions and will continue to work to make sure that women and mothers are safe and have access to adequate health care.”

Earlier in the year Davis gained national attention for waging a 13-hour filibuster of the law.

In a separate statement Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) praised the high court’s decision.

“This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions,” Perry said. “As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state.”

Love her.

The next few links are not within the “wonderful life” theme, but I wanted to include them anyway:

Greg Abbott links Wendy Davis to ‘Satan’ after ‘illegal immigrant’ game is cancelled | The Raw Story

How Many of Your Memories Are Fake? – Erika Hayasaki – The Atlantic

“Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins

Mummified Meals Studied – Archaeology Magazine

Mummy Animal FoodRichard Evershed of the University of Bristol and a team of researchers are investigating how meat products were preserved for provisioning ancient Egyptian tombs. “We’ve done quite a bit on human Egyptian mummies and even a fair bit on animal mummies. But the meat mummies…they’d been sort of left on their own,” he explained. For example, a calf and a goat leg he and his team examined with mass spectroscopy had been wrapped in bandages and smeared with animal fat. A few hundred years earlier, beef ribs prepared for Pharaoh Amenhotep III were treated with an expensive resin imported from the Mediterranean.

Look..it is a rack of Chili’s Baby Back Ribs!

And finally, with all the fuss over the new dictionary word “Selfie” I thought a couple of links regarding words would be neat…English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet – Megan Garber – The Atlantic

Skreened.com

Let’s start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism.

The word “because,” in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, “because” has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I’m reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I’m reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which “because” lends itself.

I mention all that … because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use “because.” Linguists are calling it the “prepositional-because.” Or the “because-noun.

You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination. As the language writer Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: “‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar.”

Go and read the rest of that article, it is real interesting.

I guess you could say that Varney and his comment about women tech CEOs would be because misogyny.

What is the one word that’s the same in every language?

Huh?

Yup…

As anyone who has tried to blag a vocab test will know, words really don’t have any logic to them. You can’t just “work out” what the German word for “fridge” is. That’s because, of course, words are arbitrary. Cat (or katze or chat) only means “cat” because at some stage people came to agree that it did. Words may share roots and flit across language barriers, but because there’s such a vast number of sounds a human can make, it’s very unlikely that we’d all spontaneously come up with the same word for the same thing.

Except that, apparently, we have. That word is “huh”. According to a recent study it seems to be pretty universal. The scientists (in what sounds like an excellent idea for a research trip), recorded bits of informal language from 5 continents, and of the 31 dialects they compiled, all had this same word in common.

My first thought in reading their findings was “hmmm”. Is “huh” even a word? It seems more like an instinctive utterance – the kind of sound we make when confused. Noises of surprise or anger might be the same everywhere, but that’s because they are not really part of a language. They’re just noises.

But the researchers do a fairly good job of arguing that “huh” is, in fact, a word. It’s not involuntary, and it follows the rules of a given language: if questions are posed with rising intonation, “huh” rises too, and vice versa (it fell in two of the dialects). It is also possible for children and language learners to get “huh” wrong by using it out of context. You can’t get noises of astonishment wrong.

So why is “huh” everywhere? Here’s where the research gets interesting. “Huh”, the scientists suggest, is the only word that can do that particular job. This means you could, technically, work the word out in a vocab test. And if children were really thorough inventors of made up languages, they’d have to include “huh”.

Go figure?

There is more of course at the link. Check it out.

That is it.

Shit, almost 4:30…time does fly when it is a Wonderful Life.


Good rids to Goodhair!

image “Rick Perry says he won’t seek re-election in 2014, creating the 1st open race for Texas governor since 1990”

– @texastribune http://bit.ly/14YiAtl

Time to Rock and Roll, right Ann? Right, Molly?

Wendy Davis for Governor 2014

And, please excuse the peanut gallery that wants Perry for the WH in 2016. They have suffered too much brain damage from all the Pink Sneaks kicking ’em in the arse…

Wendy Davis 2014


Evening News: Rachel, Leticia, Wendy and Raccoon Dogs from Super Mario Bros.

6a00d83451ccbc69e2011168ccb7a4970c-400wiGood Evening…

Let’s start tonight’s round-up with a look at today’s courtroom appearance of Rachel Jeantel. She is the friend of Trayvon Martin, the one who was on the phone with him the night he was murdered by George Zimmerman. The smearing of Rachel Jeantel – Salon.com

Rachel Jeantel is a 19-year-old Florida woman. On Facebook and Twitter, she’s been known to post photos of her nails and talk about drinking. She is also the last person to have spoken with Trayvon Martin before George Zimmerman shot him to death last year, the woman who was on the phone with him when his fateful encounter unfolded. She is known in the justice system as Witness #8 in Zimmerman’s trial. She is, in fact, the prosecution’s key witness. But you’d be forgiven if you’d gotten the impression recently that she was sitting up there to defend herself.The smearing of Rachel Jeantel
Rachel Jeantel, the witness that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just before he died, gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool) (Credit: AP)

Jeantel does not fit the comfortable image of the grieving girl. As Rachel Samara wrote Wednesday in Global Grind, “A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel,” a girl “who has no media training and who is fully entrenched in a hostile environment.” There is confusion over whether or not she was Martin’s girlfriend, which eradicates her chances of being depicted as a devastated young quasi-widow. On the stand, she has been blunt, hostile and at times seemingly confused. Online, she has a documented history that includes partying. She is not thin or blond or demure. So there goes her credibility.

You can read more of this good review of the way things have been going with the testimony and questioning of Rachel. If you want to see some of the video from the past two days you can catch some of the highlights here:  Rachel Jeantel | Mediaite

Now on to Leticia: Shakesville: ♥ Senator Leticia Van de Putte ♥

At the end of Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster Tuesday night, after it had been ended by her mendacious Republican colleagues, right before midnight, Senator Leticia Van de Putte took the mic. And then this happened:

Cygnus…there is the video you were looking for! Here is what Leticia had to say:

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a middle-aged Latina woman, holds a mic and says: “Mr. President, a parliamentary inquiry.” Offscreen, the president of the state senate, a white man, says, “State your inquiry.” Van de Putte asks, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” Cheers and applause. The video ends after a few moments, but the cheering and applause continued for ages.

Okay, back to the Shakesville post:

Yesterday, she penned a piece for the Houston Chronicle titled “Why I stood with Wendy: Texas women must be heard.” [NB: Not only women need access to a full spectrum of reproductive choice.] You should definitely read the whole thing, because it is very good! I especially loved this:

Unfortunately, some of my Senate colleagues do not believe in trusting women with their reproductive organs. It’s amazing to me that they do not trust women with a choice, but they trust them with a child.

BOOM.

If you would like to send her a thank-you for also standing up for women and other people with uteri in Texas and throughout the country, you can send a note to her here.

Alright, lastly…Wendy Davis kicked some ass a couple of days ago…today Rick Perry said a few things that makes me want to go kick his ass. Here is what Digby said about it: “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

What a piece of garbage:

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: “In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

It really takes some brass for this privileged jackass to not only tell women what they can do with their own bodies but also lecture them on the lessons they should take from their own life experience. We’re not even allowed to have that, I guess.

But that’s not even the worst of it:

During his remarks, the Texas governor also described Davis’ filibuster as “hijacking of the Democratic process” and said of the pro-choice movement, “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

She then goes on to mention the shit going on in Ohio…and she says:

The right to abortion has been acknowledged for 40 years now. That they are still pulling this crap a full generation later proves that no matter how much you think your rights are secured, these people will be trying to roll them back. After all, just this week the US Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act at a time of systematic vote suppression.

It’s good to celebrate our progress. But nobody should be complacent.

That is something we have been saying here for a long, long time.

I want to end with this link about a primitive dog, that looks like a Raccoon…Raccoon Dogs Invading Europe

Tanuki

They can’t fly or turn into statues, but the creatures that inspired the magic suit that turned Mario into a killer raccoon from Japanese mythology are real, and they don’t need magic powers to invade Europe. Raccoon dogs — which despite their raccoon-like aesthetic are primitive canines and not related to the raccoon — are becoming more widespread throughout  Europe. Then again, it’s kind of hard to have a problem with an invasion by a creature this charming.

Native to Korea and Japan, raccoon dogs may be most familiar to many readers as the inspiration for the mythological tanuki, the magical raccoon made famous in Super Marios Bros.3 where the accepted spelling is apparently Tanooki? Okay, sure. Of course, raccoon dogs don’t have the powers ascribed to them by the game, nor do they boast the grotesquely over-sized testicles they were famed for in Japanese mythology, a facet of tanuki lore that was inexplicably scrubbed from the video game version.

What the furry, face-masked creatures do have is a great deal of adaptability. Their ability to live in a wide variety of environments — from forests to meadows to urban areas — has helped the raccoon dog population boom since they were introduced to Europe in the early 20th century. Initially brought to Europe by Russians who enjoyed hunting the creatures, raccoon dogs weren’t content to loaf there, and over the course of decades, they’ve expanded their range to include large swaths of Central Europe and even Scandinavian countries like Finland.

Isn’t that something? They look like raccoons, or even like that red panda that escaped from the National Zoo last week.

A new paper released this month in the Journal of Zoology traces the evolution of the raccoon dog from its roots in Asia, though, and suggests that we may have seen nothing yet as far as the tanukis spread. The paper suggests that populations of the animals dwindled sharply, only to explode when the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age. Considering we’re not due for any more ice ages in the near future, and things are actively heating up in many parts of the world, we may have only seen the beginning of the raccoon dogs intercontinental adventure. There are worse fates, though — as far as invasive species go, we’ll always take ones you can cuddle with over ones you can’t. Looking at you, Asian carp. You know what you did.

Y’all have a great night.

This is an open thread.