07/22/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Can’t Catch A Break

Cleetus is sick. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does I feel confident in stating that he is, in fact, the sickest man on earth. He needs lots and lots of TLC, I don’t shirk from this, it’s my job. It’s not so much the moaning and groaning, that’s a given in this situation, it’s not the “rub this” or “fetch me a cold compress” either. It’s the pissy ungratefulness that bellows out of the man in response to my prompt and tender fucking administering of care. I mean I expect him to be a big baby, he doesn’t need to be a wanker on top of it. I keep trying to tell myself that he can’t help it, but a little voice inside me keeps whispering, “He could, he doesn’t want to.”

That’s really not fair of me, I know. He takes care of me 95% of the time, and he’s good to me in more ways than I can count. Plus the poor bugger has no paid sick time, so that’s a damn good reason to be cranky, I’m down with that. No pay for two days so far and now the question of another no pay day or go in still feeling like shit. I am not down with being on the receiving end of said crankiness. Still, it comes with the job. What does gastritis last? A week? Two? Oh, fuck it, shoot me now.

But–seriously, when he is miserable like this it is contagious. I have a computer chair that has been inadequate since the day I bought it months ago. The tilt lever lets go on it’s own whenever it damn well pleases, and even though I carefully checked the weight limit on the damn thing and I’m well under, it let’s me down in small increments with a little bump/hiss like a whispering insult. Yesterday the tilt let go and I jammed my toe on a chair leg so hard that it turned purple. When I got done cussing I readjusted the height up and sat back down. I don’t think it was an hour before it started-bump/hiss: you’re fat-bump/hiss-you’re fat-bump/hiss-you’re fatdammitalltohell!!!!

I’m not generally a cranky person. Cynical and sarcastic, yes, dry, even, but not cranky. I need this shit to be over. I need Cleetus to get well yesterday, but that’s not going to happen. What’s going to happen is he’s going to go in to work tonight because the doctor wrote: able to return to work Wednesday, even though he clearly isn’t, and because we need the money and the job. And I realize I’d feel a whole lot better about this whole deal if he could just lay down and be sick until he’s better without worrying about this bullshit. But…no.

Economic Activism

Why Progressives Must Stay United

Robert Reich

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It’s impossible to overcome widening economic inequality in America without also dealing with the legacy of racial inequality.

And it is impossible to overcome racial inequality without also reversing widening economic inequality.

They are not the same but they are intimately related.

Racial inequalities are baked into our political and economic system. Police brutality against black men and women, mass incarceration disproportionately of blacks and Latinos, housing discrimination that has resulted in racial apartheid across the nation, and voter suppression in the forms of gerrymandered districts, voter identification requirements, purges of names from voter registration lists, and understaffed voting stations in black neighborhoods – all reveal deep structures of discrimination that undermine economic (in)equality.

For decades Republicans have exploited the economic frustrations of the white working and middle class to drive a wedge between races, channeling those frustrations into bigotry and resentment.

The Republican strategy has been to divide-and-conquer. They want to prevent the majority of Americans – poor, working class, and middle-class, blacks, Latinos, and whites – from uniting in common cause against the moneyed interests.

We must not let them.

Our only hope for genuine change is if poor, working class, middle class, black, Latino, and white come together in a powerful movement to take back our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests that now control both.

Without addressing widening economic inequality, the legacy of racism and social injustice cannot be corrected.  Why, you may ask, were LGBTQ issues advanced during this Administration after languishing for decades and in the face of vociferous and concerted opposition?

It’s not that I begrudge my otherly oriented comerades their victories, they were hard fought and well deserved, but they came at the point of a privileged gun.  The LGBTQ demographic is politically active, has disposable income for contributions, and looks just like me- white and upper middle-class.  1%ers if not .001%ers.

Women (not a minority) and minorities (not for much longer) face the additional problems of being distinguishable in their physical characteristics.  They’re women or their skin is browner.  To argue that these are not the basis of discrimination is to ignore Italian/Irish/Jewish assimilation (separate culture/language?  Check!  African-Americans are native English speakers.).

What we can learn from the LGBTQ victories is that economic pressure works!  Not just in terms of direct contributions though those are a very visible aspect, but also in shaping markets.  The reason Bus Lines were such a vulnerable target during the Civil Rights movement is that their ridership was overwhelmingly African-American and boycotts cut deep.

As citizens we must use the levers of the market to punish the traitors and reward the patriots if we wish to promote our agenda.

The Ugly Truth About the US Criminal Justice System

With the latest incident in Waller County, Texas that ended in the suspicious death of Chicago civil rights activist Sandra Bland three days after she was arrested for a minor traffic infraction, the discussion of racism and brutality by officers in police departments across the United States has again been raised. The account of Ms. Bland’s arrest and death are being questioned by the family, civil rights groups and the media.

Footage has emerged of police allegedly slamming the head of a woman to the ground as she was arrested just days before she committed suicide in jail.

Sandra Bland, a Chicago civil rights activist, was found dead in her cell at Waller County Jail in Texas.

She had been booked three days earlier on grounds of assaulting a public servant after the fraught arrest by the side of a highway, during which she angrily accused officers of harming her.

An autopsy performed a day later classified her death as suicide by hanging – though friends and family have said there is no way Bland would have killed herself.

Bland was part of the ‪#‎BlackLiveMatter movement and posted videos about civil rights and racism on social media.

In an effort to quell the public outcries for more thorough investigation, Texas authorities released the police car dash-cam video. However, this raised even more questions since the video not only contradicts arresting officer Brian Encina’s written account of the traffic stop and the events that led up to Ms. Bland’s arrest, the video also appears to have been edited which the Texas Department of Public Safety is denying.

In the video, which is more than 52 minutes long, there are several spots in which cars and people disappear and reappear. When it released the video, the Public Safety Department did not mention any editing. The audio ends more than a minute before the video images do.

One of the more conspicuous anomalies comes 25 minutes and five seconds into the video, when a man walks from a truck off screen and then reappears suddenly at the spot where he began walking. The image flutters for a moment before resuming.

There are no breaks in the audio during this time. People are heard talking through the video gaps.

In another spot at 32 minutes and 37 seconds, a white car appears on the right side of the screen and then disappears. A moment later, what appears to be the same car comes back into the frame and turns left. During this time, Encinia is talking about what occurred during the arrest. There are no breaks in his speech.

What look like the same cars keep appearing in the same locations, following their same paths, beginning at 33 minutes and 4 seconds.

Again, the audio continues uninterrupted.

The glitches in the video sparked a wave of skepticism and questions in social media, with many critics arguing that the evidence had been edited.

Ed. Note: The original video in the article was disabled by the user, presumably the Texas Department of Public Safety, who said that a new video would be posted later. This a full, unedited copy of the one that was originally posted.

One of those critics is “Selma” director Ava DuVernay who said in a tweet

Racism and brutality are ingrained and systemic in many police departments. Worst of all it is condoned and covered-up by those who are charged with oversight of these departments. The host of MSNBC’s “All In” Chris Hayes discussed the problems encountered by former Chicago Independent Police Review Authority Investigator Lorenzo Davis, who was fired from his job for refusing orders to reverse his findings of unjustified shootings by Chicago police officers.

After being confronted on stage at NetRoots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona by “BlackLivesMatters protestors, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for major police reforms after he watched the dash-cam video. While much racism is rooted in economic issues, it is also systemic in our society and the heritage of white supremacy. The battle for equality for blacks and other oppressed minorities is far from over in this country. “BlackLivesMatter. Let’s start making it matter to the criminal justice system and hold these officers of the law accountable for the laws they break.

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: John Kerry’s Next Challenge

Confronting the war party on Ukraine

The nuclear agreement with Iran provides ample proof of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s remarkable commitment and skill in waging diplomacy. In an era when the Pentagon dominates our foreign policy and military options are too often trotted out as first responses, he has resuscitated the United States’ power to lead, pressure, and negotiate-a capacity too often denigrated as “soft power.”

No good deed goes unpunished. His reward for this is not only a pitched battle at home with hawks in both parties intent on torpedoing the Iran deal, but also what will be an even fiercer struggle with higher stakes: fending off those intent on escalating a face-off with Russia over Ukraine into a new Cold War. Once more, Kerry must preserve our real security interests from those recklessly brandishing America’s military prowess.

Michelle Goldberg: Why Planned Parenthood Shouldn’t Be on the Defensive

Fetal-tissue donation has helped produce treatments for Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, and diseases that affect infants.

Well, we knew this was coming. Today, the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group waging a guerrilla media war against Planned Parenthood, released its second undercover video. Once again, activists posing as representatives of Biomax, a fictitious biomedical procurement company, met with a senior Planned Parenthood official-in this case, Dr. Mary Gatter, medical director of the Pasadena affiliate and president of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council. Once again, the recording does not support the Center for Medical Progress’s central claim, which is that Planned Parenthood “sells” fetal body parts. Even in the heavily edited version of the recording that the Center for Medical Progress initially put out, Gatter repeatedly makes it clear that she’s not interested in profiting. “[W]e’re not in it for the money, and we don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue, and stuff like that,” she says. “On the other hand, there are costs associated with the use of our space, and that kind of stuff.” [..]

What’s needed is a forthright defense of fetal-tissue donation, which has been used to develop vaccines, to search for treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cystic fibrosis, and, crucially, to protect infants. “Fetal tissue is often used in research on diseases and disorders that affect babies,” Danielle Paqette writes in The Washington Post. “Scientists use it to better understand fetal anatomy and how it may react to certain treatments. Liver is particularly helpful when assessing whether a medicine may be toxic.” Refusing to use fetal remains for research would do nothing to curb abortion. It would only make sure that nothing positive could come from abortions that will happen regardless.

More people should be out there saying that-not just Planned Parenthood, but researchers, patient advocates, and neonatologists. We should be having the same debate we had about stem cells. The anti-abortion movement can’t expose something that isn’t kept in the dark.

Amanda Marcotte: How The Reddit Debacle Proves Libertarians Wrong

While most of the major players are making their lawyers happy by being purposefully vague in public, Ellen Pao’s resignation as CEO of Reddit has reignited the debate over how to handle the squirming underbelly of the internet. This underbelly consists mainly, but not exclusively, of angry white dudes who want to spew as much hate as possible at women, people of color, and LGBT people. While most of them hide behind the auspices of “free speech,” it’s increasingly clear that these trolls are motivated mainly by a deep desire to silence: to use harassment as a tool to run off anyone who values meaningful discourse or wants an environment that is inclusive to all sorts of people. This silencing campaign has harmed Pao and, as she fears, the “trolls are winning.”

While the new CEO of Reddit has promised to keep with Pao’s program to clean up Reddit and make it safe for non-toxic people to use, it immediately became clear that the white male-heavy leadership of Reddit has zero intention of actually doing anything about it. [..]

Businesses aren’t run by a bunch of computers making rational decisions based strictly on the bottom line or else this debate would have been settled, with the bigots and the haters banished from Reddit years ago. Instead, businesses are run by flawed, blinkered human beings who do foolish things like reflexively defend the “free speech” rights of a bunch of childish bigots over the free speech needs of a more diverse group of people.

Nor is the “free market” a solution that will weed out those making such poor decisions. On the contrary, as this debacle has shown, the “free market”-run by a bunch of white guys who don’t understand the toll of internet harassment on women and people of color-ran off a CEO who was taking steps to preserve Reddit’s business future by making it a more welcoming place to a variety of people. The only thing libertarianism is good at, it appears, is running protection for the bigots of the world, but it doesn’t do anything to improve freedom-or markets-for the rest of us.

Bryce Covert: Is There Room for Women Workers Under Capitalism?

A 1971 Nation article says no. The author is both very wrong, and very right.

Women and their role in the workplace are set to be a constant drumbeat in this presidential campaign. In Hillary Clinton’s first major policy speech on the economy, she called for the need to “break…down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce, especially women.” Leaving “talent on the sidelines,” and in particular female talent, she argued, is a drag on the economy. This represents, in Clinton’s parlance, “unused potential” in our capitalist society.

But feminists and capitalism sometimes have an uneasy relationship. In 1971, Betty MacMorran Gray wrote in the pages of this magazine that capitalism makes an odd bedfellow for those seeking women’s liberation. Under capitalism, she says, women will regularly get kicked out of the workforce as unnecessary, constituting an always-contingent pool of labor. “Capitalism, which rarely requires full employment, cannot use increasing numbers of women workers,” she wrote.

Laura Carasik: The World Bank has an accountability problem

Bank fails to protect critics but safeguards its impunity

In April members of impoverished fishing and farming communities near the Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India, filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., against the World Bank Group’s private lending arm, the International Financial Corp. (IFC), which funded the project, seeking remedies for harms to their environment, livelihood and health. The IFC is asking the district court to dismiss the suit, claiming absolute immunity for harms caused by the project, which would leave the plaintiffs without an effective avenue of redress. [..]

The World Bank’s resistance to accountability undercuts its anti-poverty mission. Its latest insistence on insulating itself from liability follows recent damning revelations about the organization’s failure to protect critics. On June 29 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a leaked World Bank internal survey, which detailed a climate of intimidation at the bank, where nearly 60 percent of staffers said they could not report unethical behavior for fear of repercussions.

On June 22 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a scathing report that denounced the bank for failing to ensure that critics of bank-funded projects can operate safely. HRW cited numerous examples of repression against human rights defenders, journalists and nongovernmental organizations in Cambodia, India, Uganda, Uzbekistan and other countries.

Michelle Chen: How Can Greece Break Out of the Austerity Trap?

Whether it leaves or stays under the yoke of the German-led technocracy, Athens will need to find an alternative path to recovery.

Greek banks have reopened this week, but Greece’s economy remains trapped in a tragic financial standoff-ironically, an economic war orchestrated by the monetary system originally designed to promote peaceful cooperation. So as the protests, financial panic, and political brinksmanship run their course, can anyone envision Greece actually rebuilding from this mess? Whether it leaves or stays under the yoke of the German-led technocracy, Athens will need to find an alternative path to recovery.

With Syriza’s current government in turmoil, there’s no clear Plan B. But one report by the progressive think tank Just Jobs Network (JJN), based in Washington and New Delhi, laid out some practical hypotheticals on what might happen in the event of stage-left Grexit or continued eurozone membership.


If they exit now from this financial “theater of the absurd,” maybe the Greeks will get the last laugh-cutting the troika loose, keeping their dignity intact, and watching the rest of the continent sink under the tragic weight of its delusions of grandeur.


The Breakfast Club (Limits)

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

Wiley Post completes first solo flight around the world; Robber John Dillinger shot dead; Saddam Hussein’s sons killed in Iraq; The September 11th Commission releases its report; Birth of the Frisbee.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

E. L. Doctorow

On This Day In History July 22

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.

Click on images to enlarge

July 22 is the 203rd day of the year (204th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 162 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1933, Wiley Post becomes the first person to fly solo around the world traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.

Like many pilots at the time, Post disliked the fact that the speed record for flying around the world was not held by a fixed-wing aircraft, but by the Graf Zeppelin, piloted by Hugo Eckener in 1929 with a time of 21 days. On June 23, 1931, Post and his navigator, Harold Gatty, left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York in the Winnie Mae with a flight plan that would take them around the world, stopping at Harbour Grace, Flintshire, Hanover twice, Berlin, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Nome where his airscrew had to be repaired, Fairbanks where the airscrew was replaced, Edmonton, and Cleveland before returning to Roosevelt Field. They arrived back on July 1, after traveling 15,474 miles in the record time of 8 days and 15 hours and 51 minutes. The reception they received rivaled Lindbergh’s everywhere they went. They had lunch at the White House on July 6, rode in a ticker-tape parade the next day in New York City, and were honored at a banquet given by the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America at the Hotel Astor. After the flight, Post acquired the Winnie Mae from F.C. Hall, and he and Gatty published an account of their journey titled, Around the World in Eight Days, with an introduction by Will Rogers.

His Lockheed Vega aircraft, the Winnie Mae is on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, and his pressure suit is being prepared for display at the same location. On August 15, 1935, Post and American  humorist Will Rogers were killed when Post’s aircraft crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow, in Alaska.

The Daily/Nightly Show (The Big Get)

You can watch it if you can stand it.  My position is that at least it’s out of the way and we can concentrate on what makes Jon good and not on what makes him suck.  My activist brother was worried that it will be just another one of these love fests where Jon decides not to burn his Rolodex by asking only softball questions, big and fat and right over the heart of the plate (oh, and he’s bi-partisany about it too, anyone remember John McCain?).

My brother was exactly right.

Obama on The Daily Show: ‘Executive order: Jon Stewart cannot leave’

by Rory Carroll, The Guardian

Tuesday 21 July 2015 19.54 EDT

With Obama approaching his final year in the White House and Stewart nearing the end of his 16-year-run as host of the Comedy Central flagship, the encounter had a valedictory air.

The Iran nuclear deal, as expected, featured prominently. Obama joked that critics of the deal seemed to think that “if you had brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations everything would be fine”.

Stewart noted his guest’s recent run of victories: “It appears that you’re feeling it a little bit right now. Do you feel like seven years in ≥”

“I know what I’m doing,” Obama interrupted. “A lot of the work that we did early starts bearing fruit late. The way I’m feeling right now is, I’ve got 18 months.” He vowed to tackle climate change and fuel-efficiency standards before leaving power.

Obama said he felt strongly that “stuff gets better if we work at it and we stay focused on where we are going”. He said the “Hope” posters from his 2008 election run gave some the impression that everything would be fixed right away.

“We didn’t make those. You made those,” Stewart noted.

The president conceded many goals will remain unmet when he leaves office in 2017. “You’re always going to fall short, because if you’re hitting your marks, that means you didn’t set them high enough. We don’t score a touchdown every time, but we move the ball forward.”

Hmm… what would Dr. King have to say about that?

As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides–and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history.

I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

In a democratic system our representatives are not without agency and power, to pretend otherwise is a lie.

And the Party Platform?  A broken promise.

It’s not about the morality of the victim, it’s about the motivation of the rapist and consent

Tonightly we’ll be talking about the Ashley Madison hack and, of course, the Cos.  Our panel will be 50 Cent, Judd Apatow, and Rachel Feinstein.


Not just a step, a giant leap for ass kind

This week’s guests-

Paul Rudd’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.