Daily Archive: 02/11/2015

Feb 11 2015

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Things Like This

Last Saturday night, Cleetus and I took Dan to see Baboo in his play. Baboo had a supporting role, and I was a little worried, as Dan has been known to get a tad restless during a play, even when Baboo had a lead. This time was different, Dan was actually looking forward to it, he said. Baboo had come to see him play Lorenzo the previous spring in his school’s production of Pinnochio, and he now understood the allure of the stage. I told him that this would be pretty cool then, because it’s a big stage, and we had front row seats.

This time was different for me too, because for the first time since they were born, I was going to attend a performance with no headache. That’s right, no pain in my head. No turning a grimace into a smile, no wincing through any sound system glitches, nothing. Just a tiny bit of nervous waiting for the other shoe to drop…but it never did. I enjoyed the play. But wait, it gets better.

Not only did I enjoy the play, Dan enjoyed it immensely!As we sat in our padded theater seats he kept asking, how long until they turn the lights out? I told him that when I was in shows they would blink the lights, then he would know that it would be about five minutes until the lights went down, that I was pretty sure they would do that, and that the crowd would get quiet. Sure enough, just as I finished speaking, the lights flashed, and he grinned up at me. As the lights went down, he rubbed his hands together like a cartoon villian and said, “Oh, boy, here we go!”

Now, the play was Annie Jr, which is just like Annie, but a truncated version, perfect length for Dan. Baboo was playing the small, but key part of FDR, which doesn’t come in until twenty minutes before the end. This being middle school, there aren’t a lot of boys, so we played spot Baboo throughout the first hour of the play as he made appearances as a New Yorker and a Servant, and did a voice over as a radio announcer. When we saw him, Dan and I would nudge each other. But I needn’t have worried that Dan would get fidgety not seeing his brother on stage.

From the opening number he was in heaven, and I have to say those kids did a pretty good job up there. Dan was leaning over to tell me, “This is awesome!” He pointed out what he liked in the scenery, he was was moving his legs along with the dance moves, doing a few chorus line kicks–good thing I got front row, huh? And in the scene where Miss Hanigan screams? Dan turned to me and quite audibly asked, “What the hell was that?” Cleetus and I cracked up, thankfully so did the surrounding audience. I was not only able to enjoy the show, I was enjoying Dan enjoying the show.

Sitting there in that dark theater my eyes filled, thinking about how this was the first time I had ever been able to fully experience something like this. I’ve been to performances, ceremonies, IEP meetings, but always, always, part of me was fighting pain, and until this moment, I didn’t realize how much that took away. It was just the way it was. Even when I have pain pills to get me through, it’s not the same as no pain. Because the headache is still there when I take the pain pills, it’s just not as bad. So, I feel like I don’t have adequate words to describe what it was like, it’s been over 25 years since I’ve had a pain free day.

After the play we took the boys home and got Chinese take out for a late supper. Cleetus bought Baboo roses and we gave them to him then. We ate and read our fortunes and let the kids stay up too late and all in all had a fabulous evening. Throughout the whole night I just remember looking around at my little family and feeling happy, and intensely grateful.

So far the headaches are down by about a third. The only bad thing I can think of is that when they come ripping back after a pain free day they do so with an intensity that is nauseating, and I had had that pretty much under control, but so what. It’s so worth it. No, I might not be completely pain free for every event or occasion, but to have that experience for any, to see one boy perform and the other enjoy it?

To me, was priceless.

Feb 11 2015

Jon Stewart Is Leaving The Daily Show

After 16 years hosting Comedy Central’s “The Daily ShowJon Stewart announced that he will be leaving the show this year. It has left many of us stunned and saddened. That news, and the news that NBC’s Brian Williams, host of “The Nightly New,” had been suspended for 6 months without pay, dominated the nightly cable shows, especially MSNBC. It was very apparent that Jon’s departure was more important than anything else.

After announcing Williams suspension, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow devoted the next two segments of her show to Jon’s retirement and the impact that his style of humor has had on the news and the news media for a generation:

The tributes are still pouring in:

Jon Stewart: comedian, satirist, newsman

By Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian

He insists he’s a comedian, but the outgoing Daily Show host has treated us to more than a decade of influential, and often devastating, political speeches

He’s been called the “most trusted news source in America” – but Jon Stewart has repeatedly insisted that he is a comedian first, and has played down the influence of The Daily Show on American political life.

His work has toed the line of political action, and has sometimes abandoned comedy altogether to provide the serious, though short, dose of reality absent from almost all American broadcast journalism.

A Dear Jon Letter: A TV Writer’s TV Marriage Suddenly Ends

By David S. Simon, The Huffington Post

I got dumped last night.

A 17-year relationship ended just like that and I have no idea how I will go on. Okay, it was with a married man and I knew that sooner or later that son of a bitch would go back to his family. But the thing is I just cannot imagine life without my TV life partner Jon Stewart.

Here’s the thing. Like most relationships the most significant, intimate part of our life together is at bedtime. During the day he went his way and I went mine, but at the end of the day we were there together in the bed zone to discuss not only the day’s events but the state of our lives on a level that would be incomprehensible with anyone else.

Jon Stewart Leaving His Fake News Desk Is A Loss To Real News

By Frazier Moore, The Huffington Post

Jon Stewart’s fans were gobsmacked by the sad news he delivered on Tuesday’s edition of “The Daily Show”: He’s leaving his phony anchor desk and ending his reign as phony newsman, and the loss is to real news.

“This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you,” he told his audience. He said he might depart in July, September or maybe December. He didn’t say what he means to do next.

To appreciate the impact of his 16-year Comedy Central reign, and the loss his impending exit represents, the distraught viewer need only consider Monday’s broadcast. [..]

Stewart didn’t invent satire, but he modernized it and tailored it for an information age ruled by TV and the Internet. In compact “Daily Show” segments, he struck a blow against the flabby boundlessness of cable-news and talk-network fare.

No wonder political leaders, authors, scholars and others with useful things to say flocked to his show right along with celebs who came to pitch their latest projects. Stewart, playing his designated role as court jester, goaded them with humor to get them to say what they meant in ways “serious” interviewers can’t or won’t. In the process, he usually displayed them to their best advantage.

And on those rare occasions when the news was too awful to abide the usual sassiness and Stewart’s passion burned through, viewers knew to take special note. On “The Daily Show,” unlike so many “real” news dispensers, everything that happens ISN’T “Breaking News.”

This was Jon very first appearance as host of “The Daily Show”

Below the fold are the videos from “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” which devoted the majority of the show to Jon Stewart. Lawrence O’Donnell was joined by Rachel Maddow, Hunter Walker, Kevin Avery, Beth Fouhy, Lizz Winstead and Harry Enten.

Feb 11 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: An Arms Race Won’t Help Ukraine

Nearly 70 years ago, a group of Manhattan Project scientists, having seen the power of nuclear destruction, created what they called the “Doomsday Clock.” It was a mechanism designed to warn the world of how imminent the threat of global catastrophe was becoming – the closer the clock moved to midnight, the closer we were to doomsday. Last month, the group of Nobel laureates charged with maintaining the clock changed its time to 11:57 p.m., denoting the closest we’ve been to doomsday in more than 30 years. Their reasoning is based not just on the world’s inaction on issues like climate change, but its provocative march toward a new Cold War.

Indeed, as catastrophe engulfs eastern Ukraine, the United States continues to stoke tensions with Russia, most recently by considering providing lethal weapons assistance to the government in Kiev. [..]

But arming the Ukrainian military is not in the best interest of the United States, nor is it in the best interest of Ukraine. It will only worsen a bloody crisis that has already claimed thousands of victims. As I have argued in the past, there is no military solution to this conflict, only a political one; and a new supply of U.S. arms will provide ammunition for Russian leaders who believe, fairly or not, that America is attempting to turn Ukraine into a military base near Russia’s borders. Indeed, as Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution writes, “If U.S.-provided weapons fail to induce a Russian retreat in Ukraine and instead cause an escalation of the war” – which they almost certainly will – “the net result will not be peace and compromise.”

Zoë Carpenter : Scientists: We Cannot Geoengineer Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, the volcano shot 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Those particles reflected enough sunlight to cool the earth by about one degree Fahrenheight-a temporary phenomenon, but one whose implications are still very much debated. Why not, some scientists have asked in the decades since, counter climate change by reproducing the effects of Mount Pinatubo-for example, by flying a plane into the stratosphere and spraying enough sulfate aerosols to turn down the sun?

That question was held up for scrutiny on Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences, which released a study (funded, in part, by the CIA) of two ideas for staving off the worst effects of climate change via technological manipulation of the climate: to remove carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it elsewhere, or to reflect sunlight away from the planet by what’s known as albedo modification, à la Mount Pinatubo. The unequivocal message from the committee was that the world cannot expect to geoengineer its way out of the climate crisis

Rebecca Gordon: Saying No to Torture: A Gallery of American Heroes

Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too scared to imagine doing anything else. We honor and revere them. [..]

Though you’d never know it here, no level of fear in public officials makes acts of torture (or the support of such acts) any less criminal or more defensible before the law. It’s remarkably uncomplicated, actually. Torture violates U.S. and international law, and those responsible deserve to be prosecuted both for what they did and to prevent the same thing from happening the next time people in power are afraid.

Some of those who rejected torture, like CIA official John Kiriakou and an as-yet-unnamed Navy nurse, directly refused to practice it. Some risked reputations and careers to let the people of this country know what their government was doing. Sometimes an entire agency, like the FBI, refused to be involved in torture.

Eleanor Smeal: Trade Must Not Trump Women’s Human Rights

Any deal that forces women and human rights to take a backseat to profit and trade should be a non-starter. But right now, the United States is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with 11 nations including Brunei, a country that recently adopted a vicious new penal code threatening the rights and lives of women, lesbians, and gay men.

Just recently in his State of the Union, President Barack Obama reiterated one of our core American values: respect for human dignity. It is our commitment to this principle, said the President, which has led the U.S. to “condemn the persecution of women” as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

So, why are we conducting business as usual with Brunei?

Daphne Eviatar: 9/11 Defendants Claim Military Commission Translator Assisted CIA Torture

It didn’t take long for the Guantanamo military commission in the 9/11 case to stumble again — this time when two of the accused co-conspirators said they recognized a translator in the courtroom from their time in a CIA black site.

This is the first time since August that the commission at Guantanamo has met in this case of the five accused masterminds of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The case has repeatedly stalled over concerns that the government is spying on defense counsel, most recently by trying to turn a defense team member into an FBI informant. Previously, defense lawyers claimed their computers were being monitored and they discovered that the supposedly private rooms where they meet with their clients were all wired for audio and video surveillance.

Now, unbeknownst to their own lawyers, two defendants — Ramzi bin al Shibh and Walid bin Attash — claim they recognize a new translator assigned to the commissions as someone who was also a translator at a CIA black site where they were tortured. They say they can’t trust him.

Ellen Brown: Why Public Banks Outperform Private Banks: Unfair Competition or a Better Mousetrap?

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here, North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of 2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank’s stellar record either.

Then what does explain it? The BND turns a tidy profit year after year because it has substantially lower costs and risks then private commercial banks. It has no exorbitantly-paid executives; pays no bonuses, fees, or commissions; has no private shareholders; and has low borrowing costs. It does not need to advertise for depositors (it has a captive deposit base in the state itself) or for borrowers (it is a wholesome wholesale bank that partners with local banks that have located borrowers). The BND also has no losses from derivative trades gone wrong. It engages in old-fashioned conservative banking and does not speculate in derivatives.

Feb 11 2015

The Breakfast Club (Charade)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

South Africa frees Nelson Mandela; Allied leaders in the last months of World War II sign the Yalta accords; Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers seize power in Iran; inventor Thomas Edison born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.

Audrey Hepburn

Feb 11 2015

On This Day In History February 11

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 11 is the 42nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 323 days remaining until the end of the year (324 in leap years).

On this day in 1990, Nelson Mandela is released from prison

Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released from prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990.

In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, where he became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid–South Africa’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. However, after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Nelson helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.

In 1961, he was arrested for treason, and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country. Convicted and sentenced to five years at Robben Island Prison, he was put on trial again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison.

Imprisonment

Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison. While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known as the most significant black leader in South Africa. On the island, he and others performed hard labour in a lime quarry. Prison conditions were very basic. Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.

Whilst in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was subsequently nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of London in the 1981 election, but lost to Princess Anne.

In his 1981 memoir Inside BOSS secret agent Gordon Winter describes his involvement in a plot to rescue Mandela from prison in 1969: this plot was infiltrated by Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot was foiled by British Intelligence.

In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Raymond Mhlaba. It was speculated that this was to remove the influence of these senior leaders on the new generation of young black activists imprisoned on Robben Island, the so-called “Mandela University”. However, National Party minister Kobie Coetsee says that the move was to enable discreet contact between them and the South African government.

In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he ‘unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon’. Coetsee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom. Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying “What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.”

The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985 when Kobie Coetsee met Mandela in Volks Hospital in Cape Town where Mandela was recovering from prostate surgery. Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made.

In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release. Various restrictions were lifted and people such as Harry Schwarz were able to visit him. Schwarz, a friend of Mandela, had known him since university when they were in the same law class. He was also a defence barrister at the Rivonia Trial and would become Mandela’s ambassador to Washington during his presidency.

Throughout Mandela’s imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! In 1989, South Africa reached a crossroads when Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced as president by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk announced Mandela’s release in February 1990.

Mandela was visited several times by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross, while at Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor prison. Mandela had this to say about the visits: “to me personally, and those who shared the experience of being political prisoners, the Red Cross was a beacon of humanity within the dark inhumane world of political imprisonment.”

Feb 11 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Without Jon Stewart)

Today we get the news that Jon will be leaving The Daily Show at the end of the year.  His contract is up which is why the speculation about his taking over Meet the Press had a certain amount of reasonance.

What will he do?  It won’t be The Daily Show.

Will The Daily Show continue?  There are some indicators that it will, they’ve changed hosts before, in the beginning as often as they changed socks; but it might be replaced by something else.

What would that be?  Some people think that Larry Wilmore deserves an hour which his format probably needs though I think it’s just too soon to tell after 3 weeks.  I also hear that it strikes some people as Meet the Press with more minorities which is also true and what troubles me most.  If he’s just going to be peddling the same Beltway BS instead of Keeping it 100 (which he already shows unfortunate signs of) I might as well be watching Hayes or Maddow (which I don’t, they’re better than most but not that good in the bigger picture because they’re too tied to the Institutional Democratic Party).

What I can tell you is that it’s not funny.  So far.  Larry is way too earnest.

Now I think the topics are interesting (some people disagree) but I don’t exactly see the value of other’s opinions of them (unless of course they agree with mine) and short of throwing a brick at my TV (which is much less satisfying without that big CRT implosion) I can’t get them to shut up and listen to ME!

I won’t try to encapsulate tonight the importance of “fake” news in the current culture where everything is a blatant lie relying on you ignorance and faulty short term memory to skate by.  In this environment Jon Stewart is Walter Cronkite.

Tangentially, Brian Williams is done.  Suspended for 6 months without pay which will cost him $5 Million but don’t delude yourself, he will never anchor again.  Instead the job is Lester Holt’s to lose.

Sigh.  Culture is important.  Our perceptions of what is news and what is propaganda are important.  That’s what made The Daily Show and The Colbert Report pivotal touchstones of reality during a time when objective or even subjective truth is under constant assault.

I may be pleasantly surprised by change, but I rarely am.

You, dear readers, may rest assured that I will keep doing what I do (what is that exactly anyway?) until I can’t do it any more.  Quality is a crapshoot and a bonus when it happens, the threshold of dignity is slightly better than absolutely horrible.

The U.S. Relationship with War

Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost, and will never lose a war… because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Tonight’s topic?  You’ve got me.  The site is all focused on Wednesday’s Ask Me Anything.

Continuity

Maybe this guy is available.

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

Ok, everything about David Axelrod is evil.  He’s a soulless ghoul feasting on the decaying flesh of the Democratic Party.  He’s whoring his book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.  Make no mistake, David Axelrod doesn’t believe in anything except winning (oh, and cushy jobs for David Axelrod).

We don’t want to go back to the same policies and the same practices that drove our economy into a ditch, that punished the middle class, and that led us to this catastrophe. We have to keep moving forward.

How’s that working out for you?

The real news below.

Feb 11 2015

Good Bye, RadioShack

The 94 year old company known to all as RadioShack, where many found the cables to hook up their Nintendo to the TV, has filed for bankruptcy. In his farewell to the company, HBO’s “This Week Tonight” host John Oliver wondered what RadioShack would say to its customers, so John and his crew created a farewell massage for them. The segment may not be safe for viewing in the work place or around young children due to strong language.