Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Friday, January 31, 2014

Executive Orders and Other Things

An historian talks about Executive Orders:

"...great presidential leadership requires not only executive action but public persuasion and legislative action. It's like the old cold-war triad of land, sea, and air military capabilities. The presidents I've written about--Jefferson, Jackson, FDR--used executive power, often boldly and to the great consternation of their critics, to advance their agendas. Sometimes that's the only way to move forward. But these presidents also understood that the longterm success or failure of democratic leadership often turns on shaping public opinion and passing laws, not only on issuing executive orders. Such orders can be good starters but lasting reform usually comes from sustained public and legislative work. (In Lincoln's case, for example, the anti-slavery project of the Emancipation Proclamation was followed by the passage of the 13th Amendment. Or, in the case of Truman, he in a way began a war on Jim Crow by desegregating the armed services by executive order--a war that ultimately required the landmark laws of 1964 and 1965.) So executive orders are a critical element in statecraft." --Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning historian

A bonehead and history moron talks about Executive Orders: 

 "Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president's persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. On Monday, Mr. Obama acted unilaterally to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contracts, the first of many executive actions the White House promised would be a theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night." --Sen. Ted Cruz (Crackpot-TX)

For a guy who claims he had an Ivy League education, Cruz is truly a clodpole.  And anyway, has anyone seen his diploma?  How do we know he actually attended Harvard?  I don't know anyone who saw him there!

 Cruz also stated: 

"There is no example of lawlessness more egregious than the enforcement—or nonenforcement—of the president's signature policy, the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama has repeatedly declared that "it's the law of the land." Yet he has repeatedly violated ObamaCare's statutory text.

 The law says that businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will face the employer mandate on Jan. 1, 2014. President Obama changed that, granting a one-year waiver to employers. How did he do so? Not by going to Congress to change the text of the law, but through a blog post by an assistant secretary at Treasury announcing the change." 


The [Obama] Administration's decision to delay the employer mandate was wise," in light of the Bush Administration's initially bumpy but ultimately successful phase-in of the 2004 prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Though "wise," is the current postponement "illegal"? On the contrary, Treasury's Mazur wrote to Chair Upton, such temporary postponements of tax reporting and payment requirements are routine, citing numerous examples of such postponements by Republican and Democratic administrations when statutory deadlines proved unworkable. 

 In fact, applicable judicial precedent places such timing adjustments well within the Executive Branch's lawful discretion. To be sure, the federal Administrative Procedure Act authorizes federal courts to compel agencies to initiate statutorily required actions that have been "unreasonably delayed." But courts have found delays to be unreasonable only in rare cases where, unlike this one, inaction had lasted for several years, and the recalcitrant agency could offer neither a persuasive excuse nor a credible end to its dithering. 

In deciding whether a given agency delay is reasonable, current law tells courts to consider whether expedited action could adversely affect "higher or competing" agency priorities, and whether other interests could be "prejudiced by the delay." 

Even in cases where an agency outright refuses to enforce a policy in specified types of cases -- not the case here -- the Supreme Court has declined to intervene. As held by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a leading case on this subject, Heckler v. Chaney, courts must respect an agency's presumptively superior grasp of "the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities." 

Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested that courts could lose their deference to Executive Branch judgment if an "agency has consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities." 

The Obama Administration has not and is not about to abdicate its responsibility to implement the statute on whose success his historical legacy will most centrally depend. Cruz is a political hack, feeding his gullible listeners wrong information about executive powers." SOURCE

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Please, Sir, I want some more."

This will gladden the hearts of every TeaPublican/Libertarian who reads it.

Damned little TAKERS!

Lunches seized from kids in debt at Salt Lake City elementaryEducation »

School officials cite unpaid balances on students’ meal accounts.
By Lisa Schencker |
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jan 29 2014 05:29 pm •
Last Updated Jan 29 2014 11:06 pm

Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents.

 "It was pretty traumatic and humiliating," said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line Tuesday at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.

Lukes said as far as she knew, she was all paid up. "I think it’s despicable," she said. "These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."  
Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, said the district’s child-nutrition department became aware that Uintah had a large number of students who owed money for lunches. 

As a result, the child-nutrition manager visited the school and decided to withhold lunches to deal with the issue, he said. But cafeteria workers weren’t able to see which children owed money until they had already received lunches, Olsen explained. 

 The workers then took those lunches from the students and threw them away, he said, because once food is served to one student it can’t be served to another. 


This happened.   Just yesterday.  In America.

Finally, the Libertarian/Conservative dream comes to fruition.

Can someone tell me what the hell has happened to our nation that made the adults in that school feel comfortable to do this to those children?  

We have lost our way.  

When multi-millionaire politicians like Mitt Romney and others of his kind tell the American people over and over and over again that half of us are "takers," and just want "free stuff," this is what happens. 

Unthinking morons, like the people in that Utah school, instead of using their heads, humiliated and abused innocent victims because their political heroes have taught them that the poor are undeserving moochers, and that their children should be shamed for having been born into poverty.

Their "Jesus" must be so proud of them all.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Post-SOTU Reflections and the Continuing War of Words by (O)CT(O)PUS of The Swash Zone

Contrary to the constant sneer and jeer of rightwing rhetoric, President Obama has always been a centrist politician and hardly the “socialist dictator” as alleged by Republicans.

Perhaps Jon Stewart expressed it best last night: “President Obama is apparently now in the 'f*ck it' stage of his presidency" - given six non-stop years of legislative obstruction, filibustering, gridlock, and Godwin-style name-calling

F*ck it, indeed. Consider this ABC News interview of Warren Buffet and his secretary, Debbie Bosanek, who reveal an inconvenient truth about the American tax system:

What drives income inequality in America? Debbie Bosanek pays a Federal income tax rate of 35.5%. In contrast, her boss pays 17.5% on income estimated to be 200 times greater!
Everybody in our office is paying a higher tax rate than Warren,” she says.
I pay hardly any payroll taxes, Buffet admits. “Gov. Romney hardly pays any payroll taxes. Newt Gingrich hardly pays any payroll taxes. Debbie pays lots of payroll taxes,” he continues.
Repeat this admission across the economic spectrum of American life, and what you have is a massive redistribution of income from the middle class to a special privileged class. Yet, Republicans have lashed out: They dismiss Buffet’s admission as an act of “class warfare.” One has to ask: Which side of this war is hurling the bombs?

Here are more inconvenient facts: Since 1979, the productivity of American workers has risen 80%; yet, the wages of these workers have risen less than 11%:

Please note the precipitous rise in income for the privileged class: Over 240%.  In other words, American workers have put enormous wealth into the pockets of their employers, yet received next to nothing in return.

Since 2001, this trend has turned ever more ominous as shares in the national economic pie have essentially turned upside down. Middle class wage increases have fallen to less than one percent. The überclass now pockets a whopping 99% slice of the national pie but constitutes only 1% of the population.

Meanwhile, US multinational corporations are laying off workers at home and shipping jobs overseas:
Given these data, consider this thought experiment: If you are a Kochroach raking in $1 billion per year, what is the cost benefit ratio of spending $100 million on PACs and stink tanks to avoid a tax hike? The difference between a 17.5% tax rate versus 35.5% (drum roll) is:

$180,000,000 each and every year
for as long as ye shall live (badda boom)!
[The GOP] has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America's plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public … [The GOP] could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses” (Mike Lofgren, Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult).
Mike Lofgren's words explain the stalking point phrases of “class warfare” and “job creators” framed and marketed by PACs and stink tanks to protect the überclass. Now you know why the Kochroach Brothers spend buckets of bucks to convince ignorant country bumpkins to vote Republican - and against their own economic self-interest.

Recently one of those country bumpkins - or perhaps a psy-ops troll employed by the überclass - left this comment under a recent post by Shaw:
"Just compare the "poor" in the US to the rest of the world and you have to come to the conclusion that our system is better for poor people. How much more do you Bleeding Heart Liberals want us to do for these people, most of them ar [sic] lazy slobs anyway who just take, take and take!"  Steve
My reply:
"For your information, most of the impoverished people of this country are the working poor earning subsistence wages - people who mow your damn lawn, pick up your damn garbage, flip your fucking hamburgers, and pick your damn fruits and vegetables under a hot sweltering sun – jobs which shiftless lazy bastards such as yourself consider beneath your contemptible dignity."
In response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Republicans have responded with:

"Kommandant-In-Chef" - Randy Weber (R-TX);
6,778 words. 'Benghazi' is not one of them” - Steve Stockman (R-TX);
Obama speech reads like dictates from a King” - Tim Huelskamp (R-KS);
The world is literally about to blow up” - Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Words and more words, but nothing of substance. How long will the middle class tolerate this bullshit? Historically, no society has tolerated unchecked economic privilege and injustice for long. It is only a matter of time before the war of words spills into the streets. When that day arrives, my choice of weapon will not be ink.


I listened to Mr. Obama's SOTU, which was mostlhy an outline of his plans to continue to move the country forward, with or without the useless Boehner and his House Republicans.

The speech was, for the most part, optimistic, focusing on what we Americans can accomplish if we have the will and the good sense to work together.

I hope every Democrat running for office in 2014 will use the image of the GOPers NOT applauding when President Obama said this:

"This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds."

The GOPers richly earn the "anti-women" label they protest is so undeserved.

Andrew Sullivan had this to say about the speech:

"The metaphor of the soldier slowly, relentlessly, grindingly putting his life back together was a powerful one for America – and Obama pulled off that analogy with what seemed to me like real passion. One aspect of his personality and his presidency is sometimes overlooked – and that is persistence. He’s been hailed as a hero and dismissed as irrelevant many times. But when you take a step back and assess what he has done – from ending wars to rescuing the economy to cementing a civil rights revolution to shifting the entire landscape on healthcare – you can see why he believes in persistence. Because it works. It may not win every news cycle; but it keeps coming back. 

 If he persists on healthcare and persists on Iran and persists on grappling, as best we can, with the forces creating such large disparities in wealth, he will look far, far more impressive from the vantage point of history than the news cycle of the Twitterverse sometimes conveys."

President Obama is persistent.  And history tells us how that is rewarded:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race,”Calvin Coolidge.

Charlie Pierce gives us a review of one (how many rebuttals did they need to answer what they claim is a "weak" president? 5? 6? LOL!) wingnut's confutation to President Obama's SOTU.

Oh, and those Executive Orders the Gee-Oh-Pee-ers are wetting themselves over?

"Whenever a President is forced to govern by Executive Order, it isn't testimony to his leadership weakness, but to the adversarial, obstructive, and deliberate actions of the people who fight his attempts to move this country forward. If we had a Republican Congress who hadn't blocked 18 Jobs Bills, 3 Infrastructure Bills, Bills against Minimum Wage, against extending Unemployment Benefits to 1.6 million Americans, against Equal Pay for women, Executive Order would never have to be considered, but a REAL LEADER DOES WHAT HE HAS TO MAKE THIS A BETTER AMERICA FOR ALL OF US." - Marian D. Fisher

Monday, January 27, 2014


A friend from my hometown posted this on his facebook page:

"David and Charles Koch are in the process of hosting their biannual conservative training session for billionaires in Indian Wells, California. The effort this year is to raise millions to mislead the public about Obamacare and to use that information to defeat vulnerable Democratic representatives and senators in the upcoming mid-term elections. They have rented out the entire Hotel Esmerelda (558 rooms), closed the restaurants to the public for three days, and shut down the recreational facilities (see the picture). They have also surrounded the grounds and nearby golf course with telephone laden security guards, all dressed in black (see my new friend). It was truly eerie watching this unfold."

If anyone can refute this, feel free to do so.  But I don't think anyone will.

"Though the donors will funnel tens of millions of dollars into the election this year, they will not have to disclose a single cent. Using an elaborate array of foundations, nonprofits, and other legal entities, the Koch network sponsored bus tours, attack ads, think tanks, and hired Tea Party organizers to shape the midterm elections two years ago. 

Now it appears they are expanding the effort. The most that the public knows about these meetings has been culled from leaked audio tapes, reporting from journalists like Ken Vogel, and from an invitation I exclusively reported back in October of 2010. The document I posted over a year ago explained that during the meetings, strategy is discussed, from legislative campaigns to judicial elections, and money is raised from an assortment of executives from the oil, banking, manufacturing, and real estate industries." --SOURCE

Now what was all that whining about we hear from the GOOPers about George Soros?

Do they really know nothing about the conservative corporatist fascists plotting in their own backyards to forever alter our democracy?  The low-information voters were fed the lie that it is President Obama who would "fundamentally change" America, while, covertly, the billionaire Koch brothers are doing that very thing.  The Koch brothers cynically turn us against each other, while plotting to buy up every legislator they can to make this country into their own private empire.  It won't matter who the president is.  America will belong to the Kochs.

My friend:  

"Citizens United, which permits a powerful few to raise millions to influence elections, has the potential to fundamentally alter our democracy. "

Mitt Romney's Man Crush

Sunday, January 26, 2014

FLOTUS and Jetsam

Mrs. Obama is our FLOTUS.

The howler monkeys who throw their poop against the wall every time Mrs. O. says "the" are the JETSAM.

Here's the inimitable Sheria of The Swash Zone to tell us about the very sorry JETSAM, who, on cue, feel the urgent need to say something stupid and malicious about our First Lady.

Subway Partners with Michelle Obama, Sincerely Ignorant respond with Hate

Seriously, they can only wish their women were as intelligent, gracious, and gorgeous:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mitt and Vlad, sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G...

Mitt Romney has a very large man-crush on Vladimir Putin because Mittens sez Vlad is better at being preznit than Obummer.

Comrad Mitt!  Is that a kalashnikov in your magic underwear or are you just happy to see me?

Loser Romney, who, incidentally, lost the presidential race to Obama, told NBC that the Russian leader “outperformed” the president “time and time again on the world stage.”  Did we mention Willard lost miserably to Barack Hussein Obama?  Well, in case you didn't know.  He did.

Excellent Mittens! But you, of the off-shore bank accounts, "outperform" every great Pay-Tree-OT in praising the former head of the COMMUNIST KGB over our American President.

BTW, Vlad blows you some of his bestest поцелуи!

Mittens' Commie hero said this about those icky gaiii Olympic athletes coming to Sochi:

Gays Are Welcome at Olympics as Long as They ‘Leave Kids Alone’

In addition, Vlad announced that clergy members (sorry) of the Catholic Church are also welcome as long as they... well you can finish it, I can't.  I'm very busy watching my bananas ripen.

Oh dear.  If the Gee-Oh-Pee-ers aren't tongue-kissing ex-Commie KGBers (Hello Mittens!), their gazillionaire supporters are writing cri de coeurs to the Wall Street Journal, telling the world that the 99 percenters are being meany Nazis to them. 

Tom Perkins sez he and his fellow gazillionaires are suffering just like the Jews and the millions who died horrible deaths by the Hitlerites.  Poor Tom Perkins!  His life is turning into one big Kristallnacht!

About that "sanctity of marriage" meme that anti-marriage equality people always trot out...

'Red' States Have Higher Divorce Rates Than 'Blue' States, And Here's Why

New Study Finds That Divorce Rates Are Higher in Counties with a Greater Concentration of Conservative Christians

"Demographers Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Philip Levchak at the University of Iowa looked at the entire map of the United States, going county by county, to examine where divorces occurred in 2000 and what the characteristics of those counties were. Their work confirms that one of the strongest factors predicting divorce rates (per 1000 married couples) is the concentration of conservative or evangelical Protestants in that county."

Trends in teen births in U.S.:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Glenn Beck haz a sad.

This blog has written about conservative, self-identified "recovering dirt bag" , Glenn Beck, and his crazy rants that were featured every night on FAUX NOOZ.

Now, in a cynical attempt to sound penitent (for gawd only knows what financial advantage) he admits that his harangues and histrionics were divisive and that they tore the country apart.

Beck is a phony.  

Always was and always will be.  I remember listening to his corrosive screeds on AM radio when I lived in Florida. I never thought a blathering nincompoop like him would ever attract a national audience.


That cable station gave him a platform to spread his idiotic conspiracy tirades to galaxies of unthinking zombies.

Now he's sorry.

Cry me a "you-know-what-kind-of-" river, Glenn.  Now go away. And stay there.

"Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, now an older and wiser and richer man, told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Tuesday that he regrets having "played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart" during his tenure with the network. Beck was with Fox from shortly before the 2008 election until 2011, during which time he became notorious for his encouragement of the Tea Party and his far-reaching conspiracy theories about Socialist infiltration of the Obama administration. Or, as Kelly put it in introducing Beck for her interview, Glenn "had a very successful run here at Fox News, but also became a bit of a lightning rod."

A bit! It was indeed a successful run for the parent company — until Beck's assertion that President Obama was racist and had "a deep-seated hatred for white people" prompted advertisers to pull spots from his program. 

(Later, religious groups objected to Beck's claims that social justice work was associated with Nazism.) 

 But now Beck sees the errors of his ways, understands that these excoriations weren't helpful (like when a guy who'd heard Beck's repeated attacks on the non-profit Tides Foundation was arrested on his way to shooting the place up)."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

GOP Hopeful

Chicago GOP hopeful: Autism and dementia are God’s punishments for LGBT rights

"One of the Republicans lining up to challenge Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for her seat representing the 9th District of Illinois told the Chicago Daily Herald that God is “angry” with the United States and has sent scourges to punish the American people. Candidate Susanne Atanus believes that autism and forms of dementia are punishments sent by God because of the growing support for marriage equality in the country and the prevalence of abortion. 

 “I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said at an endorsement session with the Daily Herald on Monday.

God controls the weather, she said, and tornadoes are evidence of his wrath. “God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”


President Barack Obama:

“ 'There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,' Obama said in the article by David Remnick, appearing in the magazine’s Jan. 27 edition. 

 'Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president,' Obama said in his most direct comments on how race has affected his political standing since he’s been in office."

The wingnut blogsphere went berzerk.  Google and read for yourself. I haven't the stomach to link to their rot.

President Obama made an evident statement that has nothing to do with blaming anyone or anything.  He spoke a truth.  And that should be the end of it.  But the rightwing noise machine will have none of it.  They've misquoted, misrepresented, and plain lied about what he said, hence the controversy.  It's all so witheringly predictable.

Charlie Pierce of The Atlantic explains the knee-jerk reaction from the howler monkeys of the rightwing noise machine:

"If that isn't the perfect Barack Obama quote, I don't know what is. Some people hate the idea of the black man in the White House, but some people think it's cool, and so it goes. Not only is it the perfect Barack Obama quote, but it is the perfect illustration of the rhetorical limitations that have been put on this president simply because he is the black man we elected. For lack of a less historically freighted term, the president is our common property in the most ordinary times, and these are far from the most ordinary times. From the start, and partly as a result of his own rhetoric, this president has worked within limits much tighter than those within which any of his predecessors have worked. Anger -- real, righteous anger -- never has been an option for him. Occasionally, it has leaked out -- when he called out the Supreme Court, "Continue, Governor." -- but that generally has resulted in a swift stampede toward the fainting couches. Throughout his presidency, I have thought of that moment in The Great White Hope, the one that the exiled Ali once made James Earl Jones re-enact on the streets of Manhattan, where the Jack Johnson character shakes his fists at the sky, and bellows at his distant, cowardly tormentors, "!" That kind of moment for this president always, always had to be subtext, lest it make people nervous about the person on whom they had bestowed this great blessing. He could never be Truman, threatening to kick a newspaper critic in the 'nads. He could never be LBJ, goddamming his way to legislative victories, one after another. He had to be conciliatory. He could not be the Angry Black Man. After all, we white folks let him be president. Where was the gratitude there?" 

Ta-Nahisi Coates, one of The Atlantic's best writers, forcefully and perceptively cuts through the b.s. while talking about the kerfluffle over Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. Coates' words explain why so many people went cuckoo bananas over the simple truth President Obama said in his interview in The New Yorker:

"And then there is us, ashamed at our own nakedness, at our humanity. Racism is a kind of fatalism, so seductive, that it enthralls even its victims. But we will not get out of this by being on our best behavior—sometimes it has taken our worse. There's never been a single thing wrong with black people that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Mrs. Obama shows us how much fun eating healthy and exercising can be.

On the day after we honored the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr...

...we read this:

Joshua Black, a Republican candidate for Florida House District 68, sent out a tweet on Martin Luther King day calling for President Obama to be hung for “war crimes.” 

 “I’m past impeachment,” Black wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to arrest and hang him high.” 

Chris Latvala, a fellow Republican running for Florida House District 67, replied via Twitter: 

“You aren’t seriously calling for the killing of Obama are you? I know you are crazy but good heavens. U R an embarrassment.” 

Joshua Black:  “He should be executed for treason,” Black said. “I think the appropriate punishment is death. They killed Benedict Arnold. (Obama) shouldn’t be allowed to kill Americans without a trial.” 

Latvala later tweeted to Black that he should “go take his medicine.” 

Black responded that he isn’t “intimidated” by the Secret Service and called Latvala a “criminal politician.”

I read trash similar to this every day on rightwing blogs.

(But...but...Sarah Palin says Mr. Obama should stop "playing the race card!")

h/t Progressive Populist

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr., January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968

"Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south."

"I'm guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing "The Help," may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism. 

 It wasn't that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn't sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus. You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth's. 

 It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. 

 This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people. 

 White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of "assault," which could be anything from rape to not taking off one's hat, to "reckless eyeballing." 

 This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father's memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people. 

 The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady. 

 This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk."

Sunday, January 19, 2014


...religious conflicts.

Most religions preach peace and good will toward their fellow humans; but according to a recent Pew Research study, human conflict is not subsiding in certain religious communities.  In fact, according to studies, religious violence is increasing:

Dr. Steven Pinker, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard psychology professor, writes, “Today we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.” He acknowledges: 

“In a century that began with 9/11, Iraq, and Darfur, the claim that we are living in an unusually peaceful time may strike you as somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene.” Pinker points out, wars make headlines, but there are fewer conflicts today, and wars don’t kill as many people as they did in the Middle Ages, for instance. 

Also, global rates of violent crime have plummeted in the last few decades. Pinker notes that the reason for these advances are complex but certainly the rise of education, and a growing willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of others has played its part.

The "in-group, out-group" thinking that religion encourages plays a huge part in promoting conflicts and violence notes Sam Harris:

“Faith inspires violence in two ways. First, people often kill other human beings because they believe the creator of the universe wants them to do it…Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation: Muslims side with Muslims, Protestants with Protestants, Catholics with Catholics.”

As humanity moves toward a more peaceful co-existence among the community of nations, the one area that humans believe is a force for goodness and compassion, is, in fact and according to the study, in contradiction to those humanitarian goals and the cause of some of the world's more horrific conflicts. That one area:  religion. 

" The study finds rises in religious motivated threats of violence, harassment of women over religious dress, mob violence related to religion, sectarian violence, and religion-related terrorist violence. One in five countries experience religious motivated terrorism in 2013, which is up from one in ten countries in 2007. Examples cited include the killings of a rabbi and three Jewish children by an Islamist extremist at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. The study also mentions the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six worshipers dead and three others wounded. While the 2013 al-Shabab attack on a Nairobi shopping mall fell outside of the date range studied in the analysis, the Islamic motivated terrorist attack highlights a steady increase of religion-related terrorism in Kenya, which ignited when more than a dozen Christians were killed by Islamists near the Kenya-Somalia border in November 2012."


Saturday, January 18, 2014



"...Hank talks about why it's cold, why extreme weather makes us talk about global warming, and why this is precisely the wrong way to think about "Average Global Atmospheric Energy."   (Which is a more accurate description of worldwide climate changes.)

Go Hank!


Three arguments about climate change that should never be used 

Please, can we try to make sure that these stop appearing in our discussions? 

 "The warming is just part of a natural cycle." 

"We've been warming up since the last ice age." 

"To think humanity can influence the climate is pure arrogance." 

 Read the answers to these absurd statements.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shitty, Shitty, Bang! Bang!

A moviegoer lost his life inside a Pasco County [Florida] theater Monday afternoon after a dispute over texting with a retired police officer. 

According to the sheriff's office, the dispute happened before the 1:20 showing of 'Lone Survivor' had even gotten underway at the Cobb CineBistro at Grove 16 complex on Wesley Grove Blvd. Investigators say two couples had gotten into an argument over noise. 

 "The victim was on his cell phone; he was texting. We believe he was making some kind of noise. This noise led to an altercation between the suspect and the victim," Sheriff Chris Nocco explained. A witness recalled seeing the agitated man -- later identified by deputies as Curtis Reeves -- get up and leave in an apparent attempt to find a manager. 

When he came back alone, the argument escalated. Charles Cummings told FOX 13 he heard the victim say he was texting his 3-year-old daughter before Reeves pulled out a pistol. "Their voices start going up, there seems to be a confrontation, somebody throws popcorn, then bang, he was shot," said Cummings, who was there to celebrate his birthday. 

"I heard the victim say, 'I can't believe...,' then he fell on us." "I asked if the guy was OK, and he started gurgling blood and then fell," recalled Cummings' son, who said he ran to call 911. 

 Both the man, identified by deputies as Chad Oulson, and his wife Nicole, were struck by the single shot. Oulson, 43, was hit in the chest and died, while Nicole was hit in the hand when she put her hand up in front of her husband. She suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

An off-duty Sumter County deputy inside the theater was able to grab the gun and detain Reeves until deputies arrived, the sheriff added. Reeves, a 71-year-old retired Tampa police officer, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. 

A 2005 Tampa Bay Times article also described him as a former director of security for Busch Gardens. Moments after he was named as the suspect, Tampa police issued a statement saying Reeves had retired back in 1993 as a captain. "He was instrumental in establishing the department's first Tactical Response Team," the statement explained. "We are not aware of any contact with the department since his departure more than 20 years ago." 

 Nocco said his detectives considered if this could be a 'stand your ground' case but decided the criteria did not apply. [Well, it IS Flori-DUH, isn't it? And hey, it worked for George "These assholes always get away with it" Zimmerman.]

 "It's absolutely crazy it would rise to this level over somebody just texting in a movie theater," he offered. "I can't believe people would bring a gun to a movie," added Cummings, a Marine who served in Vietnam. "I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn or even a cell phone."

I can believe it because it happened.  

And they didn't "shoot one another."  Only one guy had a gun, and he killed the guy with the popcorn.  No doubt he deserved it.  

What a country.

Tempers flared, and the guy with the gun killed a young husband and father because he was texting [his 3-year old daughter, it was reported].

And no one's even talking about another school shooting.  It's all so boringly common and not anything to bother with anymore.  Ho-Hum.  

"Shit Happens."

Kids get shot, wounded, or killed in school shootings. Guy gets shot in a movie theater.

Oh, look!  Over there!  Sarah Palin said something!


And, in the past couple of days, we've had a school shooting in New Mexico, the killing of a man in a movie theater for the crime of texting his daughter, and a Republican group in Oregon which thought the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln was to raffle off a rifle. 

I mean, why not? Only one of those two guys was murdered with one. There is one thing all of these three events have in common, in addition to tragic stupidity. There is in all three of them a fundamental undercurrent of contempt by the gun lobby and its financiers and the politicians that they sublet at every level of government for anyone who is revolted by the damage they have done to society. 

The power of the arms industry in our politics is brute and unyielding. Its lack of compassion is made of iron and its ability to make itself the victim nearly inexhaustible. Witness, for example, the Republicans of Multinomah County...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

About that chemical spill in West Virginia...

involving the ironically named "Freedom Industries," (freedom to pollute a region's water supply?) here's some reporting on the story:

Lax Regulation, Shady Owners Probed in W. Virginia SpillCorporate malfeasance may have a played a central role in generating disaster

 A New York Times report points the finger for a chemical spill last week on the Elk River in West Virginia at a state government well-known for "lax" environmental and public safety regulations.

The Times describes the state's weak regulations as pervasive: 

Critics say the problems are widespread in a state where the coal and chemical industries, which drive much of West Virginia’s economy and are powerful forces in the state’s politics, have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls. 

 “West Virginia has a pattern of resisting federal oversight and what they consider E.P.A. interference, and that really puts workers and the population at risk,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a lecturer in environmental health at George Washington University. 

And investigative journalist David Gutman, reporting for the West Virginia Gazette, explores the troubling behavior of Freedom Industries executives and their history of illegal behavior, political manuevers, and past associations with other environmentally damaging industrial failures. According to Gutman: 

Freedom Industries, the company responsible for contaminating the water of 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents, was founded by a two-time convicted felon, benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus and at least two of its executives have longstanding ties to the Charleston business community. 

Since the chemical spill on Thursday, Freedom Industries executives have entirely avoided media requests, except for a brief news conference Friday night. 
On Sunday morning, Charles Ryan Associates, a prominent Charleston public relations firm hired by Freedom, abruptly dropped the chemical distributor as a client. "I made the decision not to represent them," said Susan Lavenski, who was handling Freedom for Charles Ryan. She would not give any details as to why she would no longer represent the company. 

Freedom Industries was founded in 1992 by Gary Southern and Carl Lemley Kennedy II, according to filings with the West Virginia secretary of state. The company's website, however, says it was founded in 1986.  

"Our friends and our neighbors, this incident is extremely unfortunate, unanticipated and we are very, very sorry for the disruption to everybody's daily life that this incident has caused," Southern, the company's president, said at the news conference Friday night. "It has been an extremely long day, I'm having trouble talking at the moment. I would appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up."

I wonder if Gary Southern, the head of the laughably named Freedom Industries has whined to the media that he'd "like his life back."

More HERE.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mens sana in corpore sano

How healthy is your state and how much does your state invest in education?  For communities to thrive, IMO, their populations must be healthy and educated.  All other factors for success follow in an upward trajectory when those two indicators are doing well.

Here is some information on how the various states are doing in those areas:

New York Times Report from September 2013

BRAINTREE, Mass. — Conventional wisdom and popular perception hold that American students are falling further and further behind in science and math achievement.

The statistics from this state tell a different story. If Massachusetts were a country, its eighth graders would rank second in the world in science, behind only Singapore, according to Timss — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which surveys knowledge and skills of fourth and eighth graders around the world. (The most recent version, in 2011, tested more than 600,000 students in 63 nations.)

 Massachusetts eighth graders also did well in mathematics, coming in sixth, behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

The United States as a whole came in 10th in science and 9th in math, with scores that were above the international average.

 Of course, Timss is only one test, and achievement tests are incomplete indicators of educational prowess. But behind Massachusetts’ raw numbers are two decades of sustained efforts to lift science and mathematics education. Educators and officials chose a course and held to it, even when the early results were deeply disappointing.

 While Massachusetts has a richer and better-educated population than most states, it is not uniformly wealthy. The gains reflected improvement across the state, including poorer districts.

Report: American Education Isn't Mediocre—It's Deeply Unequal 

Students in Massachusetts are doing great compared to their international peers, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Students in Alabama, Mississippi, and D.C., however, are languishing.

Massachusetts was the highest-scoring state in math, coming in behind four educational systems—Republic of Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong—and outranking 42 education systems. The lowest-ranking state, Alabama, outperformed only 19 educational systems.

 Massachusetts and Vermont outperformed 43 educational systems, while the District of Columbia ranked above only 14 educational systems. Singapore was the only education system to outrank all U.S. states.

Health Care

As of 2012, according to the United States Census Bureau, here are the states with the top five highest and lowest estimated percentage of uninsured citizens (scroll down the page for the chart):


1) Texas
2) Nevada
3) New Mexico
4) Florida
5) Georgia 


1) Massachusetts
2) Vermont
3) Hawaii
4) Washington, D.C.
5) Connecticut

Report, December 2013:

Hawaii the nation's healthiest state and Mississippi the least healthy.  

Overall, Hawaii was the most healthy state in the country, while Mississippi ranked lowest for health. 

Last year, Vermont topped the list for healthiest state, and came in second this year. To understand the health of communities across the country, various factors were measured, including smoking, obesity, air pollution, high school graduation rates, infant mortality and crime rates. 

America's healthiest states, top 5:

1) Hawaii
2) Vermont
3) Minnesota
4) Massachusetts
5) New Hampshire

America's unhealthiest states, top 5:

1) Mississippi
2) Arkansas
3) Louisiana
4) Alabama
5) West Virginia