Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Never Lose The Child That Was Once You

Inadvertent post deletion yesterday.  So sorry to those who took the time to read and leave a comment.

Here's the poem:

     -- by Joyce Sutphen 

 The second half of my life will be black 
to the white rind of the old and fading moon. 
The second half of my life will be water 
over the cracked floor of these desert years. 
I will land on my feet this time, 
knowing at least two languages and who 
my friends are. I will dress for the occasion, 
and my hair shall be whatever color I please. 
Everyone will go on celebrating the old birthday, 
counting the years as usual, but I will count myself 
new from this inception, this imprint of my own desire. 

 The second half of my life will be swift, 
 past leaning fence posts, a gravel shoulder, 
 asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road. 
 The second half of my life will be wide-eyed, 
 fingers shifting through fine sands, 
 arms loose at my sides, wandering feet. 
 There will be new dreams every night, 
 and the drapes will never be closed. 
 I will toss my string of keys into a deep 
 well and old letters into the grate. 

The second half of my life will be ice 
 breaking up on the river, rain 
 soaking the fields, a hand held out, a fire, 
 and smoke going upward, 
 always up.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The National Shame That Is The GOP


Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert and scholar at the conserative American Enterprise Institute, criticized GOP leaders' efforts to 'sabotage' Obamacare as 'sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials.'

In a National Journal colum titled, 'The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare,' Ornstein said the GOP anti-Obamacare effort is 'spinning out of control' and 'simply unprecedented.' 

 He noted that after President Bush enacted the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003, Democrats worked with Republicans to improve it and help seniors rather than attempting to tarnish it for political gain. 

 Even when Democrats opposed the Iraq war, he said, 'they did not try to sabotage the surge' because "[t]o do so would have been close to treasonous.'

 Ornstein concludes: But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. 

One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one's breath away."

Ornstein is correct.  The Republicans have stopped being part of the governing body that proposes, enacts, and implements the laws of this country.  They have become a party of saboteurs, willing to create chaos, confusion, and misery to get their way, which way has nothing to do with compromise and governing.   

The GOP is no longer a political party.  It is a collection of malevolent ideologues, very much, IMO, like the anti-abolitionists of the 1850s who stopped at nothing, even murder, in order to preserve their slavery way of life.  A little more than 160 years ago, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was beaten nearly to death for delivering a radical speech against slavery and no one stopped the beastly South Carolina Senator from delivering the blows.

Although the present-day political parties have not sunk to that--yet, the unyielding obstructionism and sabotage by the GOP is having the same deleterious affects on the country. 

As the GOP continues in its intransigence that is the greater cause of the slow recovery from the economic disasters that started under the last GOP president, remember which party is the one acting as spiteful, vengeful saboteurs.

UPDATE from Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, Economics:

"Leading Republicans appear to be nerving themselves up for another round of attempted fiscal blackmail. With the end of the fiscal year looming, they aren’t offering the kinds of compromises that might produce a deal and avoid a government shutdown; instead, they’re drafting extremist legislation — bills that would, for example, cut clean-water grants by 83 percent — that has no chance of becoming law. Furthermore, they’re threatening, once again, to block any rise in the debt ceiling, a move that would damage the U.S. economy and possibly provoke a world financial crisis.

Yet even as Republican politicians seem ready to go on the offensive, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work. 

 And the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what’s driving the Republican Party’s intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass."

The GOP's Best and Brightest on Immigration Reform and Other Things

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, has always been a bit of a melon head, but he outdid himself in an interview that came to light this week in which he described “DREAMers” — people brought to this country illegally as children — as misshapen drug mules. 

“For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” the honorable gentleman said. 

It's easy to understand why our Latino community, as a majority, would not want to be associated with a political party that has Rep. King as a prominent mouthpiece.

Here's a poll that enforces that:

Latino voters disapprove of potential House GOP plans to address immigration issues without creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a Latino Decisions poll released Wednesday.

On another note, here's an apology video from the rural Pennsylvania POLICE CHIEF, Mark Kessler.  

I didn't know what he was apologizing for, apparently calling liberals "libtards," and such--something anyone can read on any conservative blog any day of the week.

But anyway, here's his response (NSFW).  And remember, this koo-koo bananas guy is the police chief of his town AND votes Republican.

A "libtard" friend just sent me the video that this gun-loving neaderthal GOPer apologized for (NSFW):


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

California and New York See Huge Obamacare Savings


We all know how the opponents of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) predicted the destruction of the universe, and the restaurant at the end of it, if it passed. And we all know how many times the Republicans in the House have voted to repeal it.

But has the Republican Noise Machine bothered to tell their Chicken Littles anything about the good news that's been reported concerning the ACA?

Other than the sound of their heads exploding over President Obama's remarks after the Zimmerman trial, I've heard nothing.

Report: Obamacare's '80/20' rule has led to nearly $4 billion in savingsAs "Obamacare" continues to be one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever implemented, a new report shows that Americans saved nearly $4 billion in 2012 due to a key provision in the Affordable Care Act. 

 The American people have often been divided by the new health care reform, and with all Americans required to be covered with insurance by January 2014, uncertainties are up in the air. While "Obamacare" is controversial, a new report shows that it has saved consumers billions of dollars. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the new "80/20" rule, which requires insurers to spend 80 percent of every dollar earned on medical services, helped saved American consumers $3.9 billion in 2012. 

 The savings were divided into two areas. About $3.4 billion was saved by insurers keeping their premiums lower in order to comply with the new law and $500 million came in the form of rebates being sent back to consumers who overpaid for their premiums. The total cost wasn't solely the result of the "80/20" rule, but it was the leading cause of premiums being kept at a lower level. 

 While some states have seen a rise in premiums, the result has not been pinpointed. Premiums often increase with each passing year, but "Obamacare" being the sole reason for the increase is not factual. A new report released last month noted that premiums in California will see a large decrease due to subsidies from the federal government. 

 "Rates will vary by region, age and level of coverage, and many lower-income Californias will qualify for federal subsidies that will greatly lower the premiums. The plans will come in four tiers, ranging from bronze to platinum. The former will charge lower premiums, but carry higher out-of-pocket benefits, and the latter will have the highest premiums but have the lowest out-of-pocket costs."

Here is Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate in Economics:

"Still, here’s what it seems is about to happen: millions of Americans will suddenly gain health coverage, and millions more will feel much more secure knowing that such coverage is available if they lose their jobs or suffer other misfortunes....
 So yes, it does look as if there’s an Obamacare shock coming: the shock of learning that a public program designed to help a lot of people can, strange to say, end up helping a lot of people — especially when government officials actually try to make it work"

And here's an opposing view by Peter Ferrara of Forbes:

"He overlooks the equal millions of Americans that will suddenly not get health coverage under “universal” Obamacare, the millions more who will choose not to get health insurance “secure knowing that such coverage is available” if they get sick later, the tens of millions who will lose their employer provided health insurance, regardless of whether they like that coverage or not, the millions more who will lose their full time jobs for part time jobs with lower incomes and no benefits, becoming truly middle class in the Obama/Krugman era, where middle class is just another word for declining real incomes." 

 Though opinions might vary on the new health care reform, millions of Americans will now have access to affordable health care. Whether you think the government should have a role is an open question and one that may or may not fit into your political ideology."

Here's another thought:  The Republicans in Congress  made a pact on the night of Mr. Obama's inauguration in January of 2009 to obstruct any and all proposed legislation, appointments, and programs so that his presidency will be a failure.

If they had worked with President Obama to help fine tune and implement what they themselves had proposed as an answer to our national health care crisis, perhaps a plan with fewer problems could have been hammered out through compromise.  But the GOP, in thrall to extreme ideologues, did all they could to scare the American people into believing that the passage of the ACA would be tantamount to treason and the descent into totalitarianism led by the America-hater, Kenyan Usurper, Barack Hussein Obama.

A list of those hideous totalitarian governments that provide universal coverage for  their citizens is HERE.

And here is a list of the countries from the World Health Organization that are better than the USA [ranked at 38] at providing health care to their citizens:

San Marino
United Kingdom
Saudi Arabia
Costa Rica
United States of America

Here's another ranking from Business Insider that ranks the USA better than WHO.  In their ranking we're not #38, we're #37!

U.S. Ranks Last Among Seven Countries on Health System Performance Based on Measures of Quality, Efficiency, Access, Equity, and Healthy Lives

"New York, NY, June 23, 2010—Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall compared to six other industrialized countries—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—on measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall."

New Health Rankings: Of 17 Nations, U.S. Is Dead Last

Throughout the battle to pass legislation to bring the United States in line with other developed western democracies, President Obama received not one vote for the ACA from the GOP.  And yet that same political party has offered nothing as an alternative except to vote to overturn the only legislation that addresses our health care crisis. That's not political opposition; that's self-destructive obstinancy and insanity.

The GOP will pay dearly for it as the benefits of Obamacare continue to be reported. 

UPDATE:  More evidence of a party in its death throes:

“Some of my Republican colleagues are already saying we won’t raise the debt limit unless there’s repeal of ObamaCare. I’d love to repeal ObamaCare, but I promise you that’s not going to happen on the debt limit. So some would like to set up another one of these shutdown-the-government threats. And most Americans are really tired of those kinds of shenanigans here in Washington,” – Senator John McCain.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"He Spoke Plain Truth"

President Obama's impromptu remarks yesterday on the Trayvon Martin case: 

 "But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. And there are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often. And you know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. "

After this heartbreakingly honest impromptu speech, the flying monkeys were let loose from the rightwing blogsphere, screeching, honking, and wailing that President Obama is Divisive! Racist! Narcissistic! And other words not fit to print.

But what President Obama spoke is the plain truth.  And damn those who can't handle the truth.  He spoke with sincerity and with a depth of feeling because he has had the awful experience of being a black youth and man in America.  He has had the experience of walking while being black, and he's seen what can happen when a teen, minding his own business, acting without malice, can be profiled, and lose his life.

For those who will come here and go off on how bad the black on black and black on white crime is here in America, save your fingers.  It's not the president's job to control crime in America's cities and towns, it's the job of law enforcement and the mayors of those cities and town.  

The president spoke, to me anyway, of injustices people suffer because of the color of their skin; and to those who will say things are better than they were during Jim Crow when African-Americans were routinely beaten, tortured, and murdered in the south, with impunity, I say that there is still that element in our American consciousness that a black man or woman is not fully "one of us." 

No other president in the history of this country has had to deal with the disgracefully racist birther issue, and no other president in the history of this country looked like President Obama.  

Also, this president urges young men and women--and that means African-American youth--to stay in school, study hard, be responsible young people.  I've read speeches where he emphasizes the importance of doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong.  Some African-American advocacy groups actually FAULT President Obama because he always targets, in particular, the black community to BE responsible.  But the folks who went coo-coo bananas over President Obama's speech don't know that, and they don't care to know this fact, because it would create cognitive dissonance in their determination to demonize this man.

I applaud President Obama for being honest with the American people and for saying what needed to be said and in the way he said it:  from his heart.

As always, the great Charlie Pierce expresses it perfectly:

"But this swill is going to get some traction in more respectable circles because, in making those remarks, and in sounding for one of the very few times like what once was called a Race Man, the president broke what a lot of people assumed was a covenant he'd made with them when they permitted him to be president. 

That covenant was fashioned for him during his speech to the Democratic convention in Boston, wherein he told a divided country everything it really wanted to hear about itself. He was going to be the living demonstration of the progress the nation had made. His job, in addition to being president, was going to be as a redemptive figure. That was the deal by which the country would allow him to be its president. 

 I always thought that speech was overrated. I thought it was dreamy utopian nonsense that did not take into account the well-financed virulence that would be brought to bear on him, and on his policies, and on his entire public career. (I think the fact that he bought it has a lot to do with how stuck in the mud his administration has been, and is, on several important issues.) 

Remember, in his big speech on race during the campaign, he made it a point to mention how his grandmother would tense up when she saw black men on the street. That was the Barack Obama of the 2004 speech. That was the Barack Obama of the redemptive covenant. That was how the country would allow him to speak on race, if he wanted to be its president. 

Today, there was none of that. He didn't even obliquely try to justify sidewalk profiling of the kind that set off the chain of circumstances by which Trayvon Martin was made dead. 

He spoke plain truth, and the reason you know it is so many smart people already are saying how politically unwise it was that he spoke at all. He broke the covenant, once and for all, which ought not to matter, because it was counterfeit all along."

Also, on another note, Dan Riehl is an exquisitely clueless, moronic wingnut not fit to own a box of crayons, let alone an internet platform for spreading his stupidity:

"White victimhood has become the cause du jour for many on the political right and nowhere was it more evident than in a tweet from influential conservative blogger Dan Riehl who tweeted “If you ever had any doubts, Obama is the first Racist in Chief.”

In the delusional white mind of Mr. Riehl no president in our history has ever been as racist as Mr. Obama whose apparent verbal hate crime is that he had the temerity to point out that 35 years ago he was a black teenager. Wow, has any President ever done anything so racist in the history of our nation?

Well, actually yes. Worse even. Much worse.

 Perhaps Mr. Riehl maybe has not heard of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk or Zachary Taylor. All eight of these men owned black slaves while they were President.

 However, in Riehl’s world maybe there is nothing racist about owning people as chattel property based on the color of their skin. Maybe Mr. Riehl is also oblivious to presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren forcibly removing 15,000 American Indians from their homes in the Trail of Tears.

In addition, Dan Riehl is no doubt unaware that Woodrow Wilson screened the pro Ku Klux Klan movie “Birth of the Nation” at the White House and gave it enthusiastic reviews. Two thumbs up from the then Racist in Chief. Maybe Dan also forgot that FDR signed an executive order to put Japanese Americans in internment camps. I suppose Mr. Riehl has been so isolated from access to historical documents that he also never heard Richard Nixon on tape spewing racist venom. 

 And let us not leave out Dan Riehl’s presidential hero, Ronald Reagan who stereotyped black “welfare queens” to rally aggrieved racist white voters to embrace his campaign. Prior to becoming President, Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, calling them “humiliating” to the South. 

According to Lisa Mcgirr, in the book Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right, when Reagan campaigned for governor of California in 1966 he vowed to eliminate the state’s Fair Housing Act proclaiming that “if an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, he has a right to do so.”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Kids Are All Right

I didn't follow the recent controversy that surrounded a Cheerio commercial, but apparently it showed an interracial couple whose little girl wanted her daddy to be healthy, so she dumped a box of Cheerios on his chest, so his heart would stay healthy.  

That's the whole commercial.

The YouTube site, according to the interview below, exploded with racial slurs and invective so horrible that they had to shut the comment section down.  The comments blasted Cheerios for the ad because it showed a normal family that happened to feature an African-American daddy and a non-African-American mommy, and the comment section seethed with the most disgusting racist language and slurs imaginable. 

In this video, someone interviews a number of children of various ages and backgrounds to solicit their opinions of the whole controversy.  The interviews with these adorable and wise children give me hope and much consolation after a week of rancor and blistering enmity.

The kids are more than all right; the kids are beautiful, and it is their generation that will, finally, fulfill this country's greatest promise--equality for all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"These People Are F***ing Crazy!"

This is a typical comment seen on a typical conservative blog concerning the Zimmerman trial: 

 "Ed Bonderenka said... 
Trayvon deserved to die. He earned it. 
Not for being black. Attack someone and threaten their life, 
give them no recourse, you've brought it on yourself. 
Define deserve. Had it coming."

We don't have a serious problem in this country?  

The character who posted this comment believes Trayvon Martin deserved to die because he bloodied Zimmerman's nose.  Zimmerman "felt" his life was in danger, so he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. 

I wonder if the commenter Bonderenka would "feel" the same way if, say, a person walking down the street at night in Conceal Carry and Stand Your Ground Florida saw Commenter B. reach inside his pocket and that said pedestrian "felt" the commenter was going for a weapon, and because that pedestrian "felt" threatened, took out his/her gun and shot said commenter B. quite dead.   

We could all then say, Commenter B. "had it coming."  Afterall in Conceal Carry and Stand Your Ground Florida, who knows when someone reaches into his/her waistband or pocket if he or she isn't going to pull out a gun? So if we "feel" threatened, we shoot and kill!  It's the American way.

What a country!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The System Failed

by Charles Blow:

The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point.

 The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not.

 The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home.

 The system failed him when the bullet ripped though his chest, and the man who shot him said he mounted him and stretched his arms out wide, preventing him from even clutching the spot that hurt.

 The system failed him in those moments just after he was shot when he was surely aware that he was about to die, but before life’s light fully passed from his body — and no one came to comfort him or try to save him.

 The system failed him when the slapdash Sanford police did a horrible job of collecting and preserving evidence. The system failed him when those officers apparently didn’t even value his dead body enough to adequately canvass the complex to make sure that no one was missing a teen.

 The system failed him when he was labeled a John Doe and his lifeless body spent the night alone and unclaimed.

 The system failed him when the man who the police found standing over the body of a dead teenager, a man who admitted to shooting him and still had the weapon, was taken in for questioning and then allowed to walk out of the precinct without an arrest or even a charge, to go home after taking a life and take to his bed.

 The system failed him when it took more than 40 days and an outpouring of national outrage to get an arrest. The system failed him when a strangely homogenous jury — who may well have been Zimmerman’s peers but were certainly not the peers of the teenager, who was in effect being tried in absentia — was seated.

 The system failed him when the prosecution put on a case for the Martin family that many court-watchers found wanting.

 The system failed him when the discussion about bias became so reductive as to be either-or rather than about situational fluidity and the possibility of varying responses to varying levels of perceived threat.

 The system failed him when everyone in the courtroom raised racial bias in roundabout ways, but almost never directly — for example, when the defense held up a picture of a shirtless Martin and told the jurors that this was the person Zimmerman encountered the night he shot him. But in fact it was not the way Zimmerman had seen Martin. Consciously or subconsciously, the defense played on an old racial trope: asking the all-female jury — mostly white — to fear the image of the glistening black buck, as Zimmerman had.

 This case is not about an extraordinary death of an extraordinary person. Unfortunately, in America, people are lost to gun violence every day. Many of them look like Martin and have parents who presumably grieve for them.

This case is about extraordinary inequality in the presumption of innocence and the application of justice: why was Martin deemed suspicious and why was his killer allowed to go home?


The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight.

It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop-and-frisk, and in this case neighborhood watch — regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents.

It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice. As a parent, particularly a parent of black teenage boys, I am left with the question, “Now, what do I tell my boys?” We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly.

So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion? And can they ever stop walking away, or running away, and simply stand their ground? 

Can they become righteously indignant without being fatally wounded? Is there anyplace safe enough, or any cargo innocent enough, for a black man in this country? 

Martin was where he was supposed to be — in a gated community — carrying candy and a canned drink. 

 The whole system failed Martin. 

What prevents it from failing my children, or yours? 

 I feel that I must tell my boys that, but I can’t. It’s stuck in my throat. 

It’s an impossibly heartbreaking conversation to have. So, I sit and watch in silence, and occasionally mouth the word, “breathe,” because I keep forgetting to.

George Zimmerman, killer of unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin, was allowed to take his gun home.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

"A Violent Social Order"

Continuing on with commentary on the Trayvon Martin case, this comes from The Guardian:

Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin's heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him. 

There is no doubt about who the aggressor was here. It appears that the only reason the two interacted at all, physically or otherwise, is that Zimmerman believed it was his civic duty to apprehend an innocent teenager who caused suspicion by his existence alone. 

 Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. 

Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded. 

 But while the acquittal was shameful it was not a shock.


[T]he first black president of the United States ventured an early comment, saying that if he had had a son “he would look like Trayvon”. In so saying, Barack Obama pinpointed the truth that a great many white Americans will see a young man up to no good before they see a president’s son. 

For all the civil rights advances over half a century, personified by the black family now residing in the White House, racism remains pernicious and entrenched. [...] 

 [T]he verdict leaves the impression not just that it is acceptable for an individual in large parts of the US to take the law into his own hands, but that the life of a young black man is cheap. 

This incendiary case from central Florida – electorally, a swing district of a swing state – shows how far, despite Mr Obama’s election, the US still fails to practise racial equality.

Capt. Fogg over at The Swash Zone has an excellect article on this tragic case.  HERE.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry


"I think one of the things
that most upsets me here
is the “well that's  just the way
the law works” argument
or hearing that the verdict
was in line with the law.

It’s sort of a “that’s the way
the cookie crumbles” response;
it entirely ignores the policy
and justice problems
and implications at play here.
To be clear, like everyone else,

I’m not angry because I think
it’s going to bring Trayvon Martin
back to life. I’m angry because
there’s a justice system that somehow
says that the killing of an unarmed boy
by an armed civilian who defied

police orders and pursued him, got
in a fight, and then killed him when
he was probably losing that fight is ok.
Simply saying that the verdict was appropriate,
given the system, doesn’t make it
any less a travesty of justice. It’s like

saying that the selling of slaves
wasn’t unjust until it was illegal.
A Justice System that allows
this type of verdict is broken,
that’s why people are so angry
because that doesn’t seem to be changing.

Fine, for argument sake, I’ll concede
that this verdict was entirely in line
with the law. It doesn’t make it less wrong.
It was still wrong to sell slaves
before the Justice System decided
to make it illegal. It was still unjust

to deny women equal rights
before the Justice System decided
it wasn’t just anymore. It is still unjust
that this kid was killed, and saying
that the verdict was in line with the law
either ignores that purposefully, or
is only recognizing 1/10th of the problem."

                             —Brian Sims, State Representative, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

George Zimmerman, the killer of Treyvon Martin, found not guilty of killing Treyvon Martin

Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic:

"Of course the deadly meeting last year between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had at its core a racial element. Of course its tragic result reminds us that the nation, in ways too many of our leaders refuse to acknowledge, is still riven by race. The story of Martin and Zimmerman is the story of crime and punishment in America, and of racial disparities in capital sentencing, and in marijuana prosecutions, and in countless other things. But it wasn't Judge Debra Nelson's job to conduct a seminar on race relations in 2013. It wasn't her job to help America bridge its racial divide. It was her job to give Zimmerman a fair trial. And she did. So the murder trial of George Zimmerman did not allow jurors to deliberate over the fairness of Florida's outlandishly broad self-defense laws. It did not allow them debate the virtues of the state's liberal gun laws or its evident tolerance for vigilantes (which we now politely call "neighborhood watch"). It did not permit them to delve into the racial profiling that Zimmerman may have engaged in or into the misconduct and mischief that Martin may have engaged in long before he took that fatal trip to the store for candy. These factors, these elements, part of the more complete picture of this tragedy, were off-limits to the ultimate decision-makers.

What the verdict says, to the astonishment of tens of millions of us, is that you can go looking for trouble in Florida, with a gun and a great deal of racial bias, and you can find that trouble, and you can act upon that trouble in a way that leaves a young man dead, and none of it guarantees that you will be convicted of a crime. But this curious result says as much about Florida's judicial and legislative sensibilities as it does about Zimmerman's conduct that night. This verdict would not have occurred in every state. It might not even have occurred in any other state. But it occurred here, a tragic confluence that leaves a young man's untimely death unrequited under state law. Don't like it? Lobby to change Florida's laws."


Without a confession, without video proof, without a definitive eyewitness, without compelling scientific evidence, prosecutors needed to sell jurors cold on the idea of Zimmerman as the hunter and Martin as the hunted. But when the fated pair came together that night, in those fleeting moments before the fatal shot, the distinctions between predator and prey became jumbled. And prosecutors were never able to make it clear enough again to meet their burden of proof. 

That's the story of this trial. That explains this result. That's why some will believe to their own dying day that George Zimmerman has just gotten away with murder. Maybe yes and maybe no. Technically speaking, the fact that Zimmerman now has been found not guilty under Florida law of the crimes of second-degree murder and manslaughter does not necessarily exonerate him in the world beyond the court. It does not mean that he is not culpable. This is and can never be a case where the defendant can proudly proclaim his innocence at some later date. 

But today's verdict, the unanimous result of six women who worked through their longest day to deliver the word, does mean that after 18 tortuous months, this tragic story now can move on to whatever comes next. And what comes next, surely, is a wrongful death civil action for money damages brought against Zimmerman by the Martin family. 

That means another case, and perhaps another trial, with evidentiary rules that are more relaxed than the ones we've just seen. And that means that a few years from now, after Martin v. Zimmerman is concluded, we'll likely know more about what happened that night than we do today. That's the good news. The bad news is that no matter how many times Zimmerman is hauled into court, we will never know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what happened that terrible night."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

George Zimmerman, Killer of Treyvon Martin, found "not guilty"

The man who shot and killed an unarmed teenager was found NOT GUILTY by a jury of Sanford, Florida, citizens.

The man who shot an unarmed teen walks.

Sanford, Florida, justice?

What could we have expected from a city that has a long, long history of racial injustice?

"...some night very soon, if he so chooses, George Zimmerman can load his piece, tuck it into the back of his pants, climb into his SUV, and drive around Sanford, Florida looking for assholes and fucking punks who are walking through neighborhoods where he, George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, doesn't think they belong. 

He can drive around Sanford, Florida and check out anyone who is dressed in such a manner as might frighten the average citizen who has been fed a daily diet of "Scary Black Kids" by their local news and by their favorite radio personalities, and who is dressed in such a manner as might seem inappropriate to their surroundings as determined by George Zimmerman, crimebuster. 

He can drive around Sanford, Florida until he spots an asshole or a fucking punk and then he can get out of his SUV, his piece tucked into the back of his pants, and he can stalk the asshole or the fucking punk, the one who is in the wrong neighborhood, or who is dressed inappropriately, at least according to George Zimmerman, protector of peace. 

If the asshole, or the fucking punk, turns around and objects to being stalked -- or, worse, if the asshole, or the fucking punk, decides physically to confront the person stalking him -- then George Zimmerman can whip out the piece from the back of his pants and shoot the asshole, or the fucking punk, dead right there on the spot. 

This can happen tonight. 

That is now possible. 

Hunting licenses are now available and it's open season on assholes, fucking punks, and kids who wear hoodies at night in neighborhoods where they do not belong, at least according to George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, crimebuster, and protector of the peace, because that is what American society has told George Zimmerman, and all the rest of us, is the just outcome of what happened on one dark and rainy night in February of 2012..."

To paraphrase George Zimmerman, these thugs always get off.

Gullibility, Biases, and Hatreds. Oh My!

A few days ago the rightwing blogs were ablaze with allegations about the Department of Justice that they found at Judicial Watch.

The sheeple read these posts, filled their comment sections with knee-jerk blather about President Kenyan Commie Satan, nodded their heads and then went back to chewing their cud, compliments of FAUX NOOZ and World Nut Daily.

But it turns out they were wrong and were only too willing to believe the worst--and any lie that confirms their gullibility, biases, and hatreds:

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton defended his organization’s claim that the Department of Justice “actively worked to foment unrest” during the fiery pro-Trayvon Martin protests of 2012, speaking both with Fox News and TheBlaze on Thursday. In the interviews, he adamantly disagreed that the proof put forward is not conclusive.

 Speaking on Fox, he said: “By their own admission, [the Department of Justice] went down to organize the protests…They would show up at these meetings with DOJ jackets and hats on looking more like stormtroopers than facilitators and peacekeepers.”

 “The idea that the Department of Justice was a mediating force here is false,” he continued. “They were promoting the protests against Zimmerman.”

Using documents obtained by a number of Freedom of Information Act requests, Judicial Watch has claimed a little-known division of the Department of Justice called the Community Relations Service facilitated the explosive pro-Trayvon Martin protests, spending thousands “to train protestors throughout Florida.”

 But as TheBlaze has pointed out, the new information that Judicial Watch presented (part of the story is from April 2012) doesn’t seem to explicitly support those allegations. For example, when the CRS says it spent $1,142.84 to “work” the protests, it could mean that the CRS was supporting the protesters, but could also mean they were there to keep the peace, as defined in their stated mission, and as the DOJ told TheBlaze.

 Additionally, the charge that the DOJ has admitted to “organizing” the protests appears to be a stretch. They admit to attending the rallies in an effort to keep the peace, in addition to “providing technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies.”

At one point, TheBlaze asked Fitton over the phone about a complaint by the DOJ that the organization is inaccurately quoting the documents it received. 

 The widely-read Judicial Watch press release says the CRS provided “support for protest deployment,” but the CRS says the documents it provided say “interregional support.” The distinction appears to indicate support for fellow CRS members, instead of support for the protesters. 

 Fitton told TheBlaze “We didn’t change anything.” But comparing the press release with the raw documents on his website, there does appear to be a discrepancy.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Dystopian GOP-run State of North Carolina

North Carolina is a perfect example of what the TeaPublicans would do to this country should they grab all the levers of power through any of the means they can contrive.

Here is what has happened to a state that was once a beacon of far sightedness after those who value poor education, intolerance, and tightfistedness took control:

From the lead editorial in yesterday's NYTimes:

After the election of Republican Governor Pat McCrory in January, the GOP took control of both the executive and legislative branches of North Carolina's government and began their tyranny of the majority:

* North Carolina Republicans ended unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents, and another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months;

* Those who are still receiving benefits will see them cut by a third;

* The length of time for those who need benefits will be slashed from 26 weeks to 12, and NC politicians are doing this at a time when their unemployment rate is the FIFTH HIGHEST in the country. 

* NC has severely cut back on spending for public schools; NC spends less now on public schools than it did in 2007, and it ranks 46 in per-capita education dollars.  In math and science scores, North Carolina ranked 36 out of the 50 states.

* 10,000 pre-kindergarten slots will be eliminated;

* Services to disabled children are being cut;

* North Carolina repealed the Racial Justice Act, a law that gave death-row inmates a chance to prove their innocence.

* North Carolina Republican controlled government refused to expand Medicaid;

* North Carolina Republican controlled government wants to give billionaires and millionaires tax cuts;

* North Carolina Republican controlled government wants to increase the regressive sales tax;

* To make up for any revenues lost by eliminating the state income tax, North Carolina Republicans propose taxing groceries; [h/t Ducky's Here, see comment section.]

* North Carolina Republican controlled government passed a bill that would close most of the state's abortion clinics;

* North Carolina is rushing to pass voted ID laws that would cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, something that would help working class citizens;

* North Carolina proposes a move to eliminate tax deductions for dependents if students vote at colleges instead of their hometowns--a blatant, stomach-turning effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns in NC.

h/t New York Times editorial

That's just one GOP-run state determined to do its best to make people whose lives are difficult at this time, more miserable.  It's a good bet that a majority of the pols in this state, who claim they're on the side of protecting "innocent life," cynically ignore the fact that eliminating and/or cutting back benefits to those who are jobless will impact the most vulnerable citizens:  the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and children.

IMO, those who seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable are monsters.  The people who claim they are for protecting "innocent life" are the same who voted to cut back on education, health care, a safety net for the unemployed, and programs for disabled children.  Monstrous.  

This uniquely Republican vision is one of dystopia for the entire country.  

Just look at what they're doing to the states where they are in charge of government.

This is how the GOP looks at people who need food stamps:

Extremely well-fed Rush Limbaugh says taking babies and children off food stamps would be a great way of solving America's child obesity problem! And hey! Dumpster diving is good exercise as well! Har. Har. Har. Extremely well-fed Rush! Making fun of people who are hungry is great sport, innit? Bet your millions of listeners think you are a very large riot!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

They're Not the Solution; They're The Problem

When the IRS shytenews hit the fan, hundreds of rabid rightwing bloggers and idiot pundits tripped and fell over themselves trying to outdo each other's hysteria by calling President Obama "Nixonian," "corrupt," and then, at the top of their squealing, puny little lungs, called for President Obama to be IMPEACHED!

Where did that IRS scandal end up?  

On the ever-growing trash heap of rightwing fanatical nincompoopery.  

I can't count how many wingers promised that the truth would come out and that, like Watergate, the evidence would point right up to the executive branch and to President Obama himself as the Nixonian culprit who orchestrated and commanded the IRS to illegally harass the poor put-upon Tea Baggers and their god-given right to organize fake non-profit entities.

Turns out their partisan frenzy over the IRS non-scandal was a big, fat failure.  Turns out that President Obama had NOTHING to do with the machinations of the local IRS bumblers, and that Darryl Issa is a liar, who was exposed as nothing more than a damnable partisan hack.

Do you remember the rightwing blogs that screamed bloody TREASON! over this bloated story coming forward and admitting that they were duped and too stupid to wait and see what the, y'know, EVIDENCE would reveal?  

No.  Neither do I.

But that is the political world we live in today.  A George Zimmerman world where you make assumptions about people you don't understand and people you hate because of your bloated bigotry and then destroy the object of your hatred.

This is why I say these crazies are a problem.  They think with their hatreds, not their reason.  And we can't solve our problems with their hatreds. 


From the Huffington Post:

Remember the IRS scandal? How the tax agency improperly singled out Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny in a nefarious political vendetta against conservatives because the agency is either inherently liberal or was acting on orders from the Democratic President? 

 Well, as it turns out, that whole scandal is entirely bogus. False. A fiction. The entire notion that the agency singled out groups with “Tea Party” in their name in simply wrong, we learn today, thanks to new documents revealed by the Associated Press.

The documents, and confirmation from officials, show the IRS targeted groups with other keywords in their names, including “Progressive” and “Occupy.” “There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum” on the lists, newly appointed IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said on a conference call with reporters.

Darrell Issa Furious After Democrat Releases IRS Transcript That Blows Up His Investigation

Darrell Issa's McCarthyist Tactics Might Just Save Obama From the IRS ScandalBy cherry-picking evidence, overstating his case, and violating the principle of presumed innocence, the GOP rep only weakens himself.


Darrell Issa backtracks on IRS scandal

"The news that progressive groups were also targeted by the IRS should, in theory at least, prompt reporters to press leading Republicans on a simple question: Do you still stand by your insinuations that the White House or Obama campaign were somehow behind the politically motivated targeting of conservatives?

In a key moment, Rep. Darrell Issa — the chair of the Oversight Committee and a lead investigator into the IRS scandal — is now claiming he never, ever said the White House or the Obama campaign was behind the targeting. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash,  he said this: “I’ve never said it came out of the office of the President or his campaign. What I’ve said is, it comes out of Washington.”

And yet, later in the very same interview, Issa said this: “For years, the president bashed the Tea Party groups. He was very public against these groups. And on his behalf — perhaps not on his request — on his behalf, the IRS executed a delaying tactic against the very groups that he talked about.”

This is utter gibberish, and reporters (kudos to Bash for doing a great job here) need to hold Issa accountable for it.

Indeed, the juxtaposition of the two statements neatly captures the increasingly untenable nature of Issa’s stance. He claims the IRS targeting was done “perhaps” not on the president’s request — seemingly dangling that out there as a possibility – right after flatly stating he has never said the targeting was directed by the White House or the president’s campaign."