07/29/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Back To The Drawing Board

Literally. I’m finally back drawing again. I’ve finished two small pieces and working on a third. Nothing worth framing, but I’m pretty happy with them for the most part. I’m working with watercolor pencils, that’s new for me, so it’s a little slow going, but I like it. I keep stopping to play with them on scratch paper to see what they’ll do in any given circumstance. Now, that’s not time efficient, but it sure is fun.

The thing is, I have about 40 of these Derwent Inktense pencils, and they have different properties than regular watercolor pencils, they get wet once and then they set permanently. Regular watercolor pencils can be reworked, so not only can I play back and forth with these things almost endlessly in different combinations; I have to plan out how I need to use them in a picture. My regular pencils are only student quality, so that means more binder than pigment, and it sometimes seems like no matter how much of them I lay down the water wants to pick it right back up, so yeah, I’m playing around on scratch paper…a lot.

But I did finish something, finally!

Not museum quality, but I’m okay with that. More than okay, I’m happy, and I’m on to the next picture~

Getting the Facts Straight About the Clintons

For the last twenty years the mainstream media and the Clinton’s political adversaries have tried to discredit and criminalize them. In the process it has not only failed but done a disservice to the public just to get a “scoop” or score political points. The latest fiasco at The New York Times involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server for her correspondence, has exposed the use of unreliable anonymous sources to create a story that was blatantly false. It exposed a pattern of toxic reporting on the Clinton’s, as Jonathan Allen at Vox called the “Clinton Rules

The reporter’s job is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” – a credo that, humorously, was originally written as a smear of the self-righteous nature of journalists. And so the justification for going after a public figure increases in proportion to his or her stature. The bigger the figure, the looser the restraints.

After a quarter of a century on the national stage, there’s no more comfortable political figure to afflict than Hillary Clinton. And she’s in for a lot of affliction over the next year and half.

That’s generally a good way for reporters to go about their business. After all, the more power a person wants in our republic, the more voters should know about her or him. But it’s also an essential frame for thinking about the long-toxic relationship between the Clintons and the media, why the coverage of Hillary Clinton differs from coverage of other candidates for the presidency, and whether that difference encourages distortions that will ultimately affect the presidential race.

The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.

As Eric Boehler at Media Matters points out, if you’re surprised by this that you haven’t been paying attention. From Whitewater to Benghazi the pattern has been very clear:

(T)he Times remains the country’s most influential news outlet and the daily has been carrying around an unmistakable Clinton grudge for nearly 20 years. And it’s a collective disdain for the Clintons that stretches from the opinion pages to the newsroom that arguably leads to spectacular blunders like the one we saw last week.

There seems to be a world view within the Times that taking cheap shots at the Clintons is not only allowed, it’s preferred; it’s a way for Times journalists to raise their profiles and generate buzz. But not only is the practice unfair and unethical, it carries with it profound political implications.

Apparently making no effort to check with the lead Democrat on the panel about the anonymous claims of a criminal referral — Rep. Elijah Cummings would have demolished the entire premise of the gotcha story — the Times essentially acted as stenographer for sources who either manufactured the claim about a criminal referral or unknowingly botched the facts.

The Times‘ oddly personal crusade against Hillary Clinton is also a crusade against the Democratic frontrunner for president, so the Republican Party benefits. The stakes really could not be higher, which makes the Times‘ behavior all the more disturbing.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow weighed in on the misreporting and clumsy handling of the story and makes note of the similar excuses the Times used about Judith Miller’s sources on her bad Iraq WMD reporting.

Kurk Eichenwald at Newsweek puts it bluntly in his analysis of the Times debacle:

Democracy is not a game. It is not a means of getting our names on the front page or setting the world abuzz about our latest scoop. It is about providing information so that an electorate can make decisions based on reality. It is about being fair and being accurate. This despicable Times story was neither.

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”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why I’m Going to Miss Jon Stewart

And how will we watch the GOP debates without him?

When I appeared on The Daily Show in late 2002, host Jon Stewart wanted to know why conservatives seemed to have a more effective message than progressives. “Are they better at selling their ideas, or they just have better ideas?” he asked. Although I disputed his premise, the Bush administration and its allies clearly had marginalized progressive opposition to the impending war in Iraq, and Stewart still thought of himself as an impartial observer. “Join us in the center,” he said as the interview concluded. “That’s my movement.”

But it wouldn’t be long before Stewart, whose 16-year run on “The Daily Show” comes to an end next week, became one of the most important and influential voices on the progressive left-an improbable icon who cut through right-wing talking points with satire while making progressive ideas sound like common sense. Stewart’s show provided valuable airtime to views that were often neglected, even denigrated, in mainstream media, and made them sound appealing. And by reviving political humor on a nightly basis, he helped turn on young (and old) people to politics and broaden the progressive base.

Chelsea E. Manning: Transgender people’s inclusion in the military is a key first step – but not the last

When I wanted to serve my country, I was forced to hide the most basic and human aspect of my life and my identity from the people to whom I was supposed to be the closest – and with whom I had to trust my life. I also had to hide from myself.

Every morning, I had to put on a uniform, and a disguise, because I was transgender, and I am a soldier. [..]

Forcing us to keep our identities to a secret in order to serve our country harmed all of us in some way, and it harms the unity and cohesion on which the military and the men and women who serve in it require. It forces thousands to live in secrecy and fear, and the pain of hiding my truth continues to haunt me to this day. Plus, I felt distant and disconnected from the others in my unit because I was trans and couldn’t serve openly, and that distance separated me from the rest of the “team”.

But while inclusion is an important first step, it is far from the last. Trans people who serve in secret also face systematic hostility, from identification requirements that may not reflect their lived genders to uniform restrictions that make it difficult to effectively transition. The policy changes Carter is planning to study must to ensure trans service members and veterans can access medical care they need, as well as identification and clothing that reflects who they are. Without those changes, lifting the ban on trans service members would be a predominantly hollow victory.

Mary Bottari: “Saucy Suffragettes” Party as Voting Rights Are Rolled Back

Voting rights around the country have been under serious assault in recent years. In 2008, President Obama was elected with the outsized support of African Americans, students and women. After the 2010 mid-term elections, new Republican majorities in state houses across the country began to pursue an aggressive voter restriction strategy, not seen since the undoing of post-Civil War Reconstruction. From early 2011 through the 2012 election, state lawmakers introduced at least 180 bills to make voting more difficult in 41 states. By 2014, voter rights had been significantly impaired in 21 states, say the expert attorneys at the Brennan Center for Justice.

The attack has been particularly relentless in Wisconsin. Since being sworn into office, Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch have ushered into law one of the strictest “voter ID” requirements in the nation, even worse than the original American Legislative Exchange Council “model” bill. Although voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the state, experts say that some 300,000 people lack the form of ID required to vote under the new law. If historic voting patterns are any indication, the majority of them are women.

Sandra Fulton: Cyber Bill Gives Companies Perfect Cover to Gut Your Privacy

Following several high-profile data breaches – such as those at Sony and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Congress is once again feeling the pressure to push “cybersecurity” legislation.

The problem is, the bill they’re laser-focused on is misguided, wouldn’t protect us – and is a huge gift to companies wanting legal cover if and when they choose to violate Americans’ privacy rights. [..]

If CISA passes, companies would be permitted to monitor and then report to the government on vaguely defined “cyber-threat indicators” – a term so broad that it covers actual threats hackers pose to computer systems but also sweeps in information on crimes like carjacking and burglaries. Those are serious offenses to be sure, but they have nothing to do with cybersecurity.

While current law allows companies to monitor their own systems for cyber threats, CISA would take this to the next level. The bill would allow companies that hold huge swaths of our personal data – like health insurers and credit-card companies – to monitor and report online activity “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

This means that CISA would undermine the strong protections embedded in laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and the Privacy Act of 1964 – laws designed to keep the government from spying on our communications.

Ruth Coniff: The Battle Over Education and Civil Rights

“This is a historic moment to end 13 years of legislative malpractice” NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia says of the federal K12 education law that Congress is currently hashing out.

Congress has failed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ever since George Bush rewrote the law and renamed it No Child Left Behind in 2002.

The original Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, was part of a civil-rights-era drive to rectify glaring inequality.

It dealt with disproportionate funding within and among the states. It created grants to help low-income students, built libraries and provided text books to schools in poor areas.

All of that changed with No Child Left Behind.

Peggy cooper Davis: The legal erasure of black families

In his new book “Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates recounts taking his four-year-old son, Samori, to a movie theater in Manhattan’s reputedly progressive Upper West Side. Coates and Samori are riding an escalator to exit the theater. Samori, who is doe-eyed beautiful, moves too slowly to suit a white woman on the escalator; the woman pushes him and says, “Come on.” Her tone is not described, but Coates reports his furious response in vivid detail. His rage leads to a loud argument with the woman and then with bystanders who come to her defense. Coates pushes one of the defenders, to which the defender responds, “I could have you arrested!”

Coates is a black man, a member of a socially constructed people who, he points out, have existed in America longer as slaves than as free citizens. And while it might be tempting to interpret the woman’s push and her words as ambivalent, or perhaps even as benevolent, for Coates they must have been stunningly resonant with the social disregard and legal erasure that black parents endured in slavery and in post-slavery apprentice systems – in which black children were apprenticed to former masters, sometimes against their parents’ wishes – and that they continue to endure in the racially disproportionate surveillance of clumsy child welfare systems.

The Breakfast Club (Starry, Starry Nights)

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

Britain’s Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer; Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini born; President Dwight Eisenhower signs an act creating NASA; Artist Vincent Van Gogh dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Vincent Van Gogh

On This Day In History July 29

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 29 is the 210th day of the year (211th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 155 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1858, the Harris Treaty was signed between the United States and Japan was signed at the Ryosen-ji in Shimoda.  Also known as the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, it opened the ports of  Edo and four other Japanese cities to American trade and granted extraterritoriality to foreigners, among other stipulations.

The treaty followed the 1854 Convention of Kanagawa, which granted coaling rights for U.S. ships and allowed for a U.S. Consul in Shimoda. Although Commodore Matthew Perry secured fuel for U.S. ships and protection, he left the important matter of trading rights to Townsend Harris, another U.S. envoy who negotiated with the Tokugawa Shogunate; the treaty is therefore often referred to as the Harris Treaty. It took two years to break down Japanese resistance, but with the threat of looming British demands for similar privileges, the Tokugawa government eventually capitulated.

Treaties of Amity and Commerce between Japan and Holland, England, France, Russia and the United States, 1858.

The most important points were:

   * exchange of diplomatic agents

   * Edo, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata, and Yokohama‘s opening to foreign trade as ports

   * ability of United States citizens to live and trade in those ports

   * a system of phttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraterritoriality extraterritoriality] that provided for the subjugation of foreign residents to the laws of their own consular courts instead of the Japanese law system

   * fixed low import-export duties, subject to international control

The agreement served as a model for similar treaties signed by Japan with other foreign countries in the ensuing weeks. These Unequal Treaties curtailed Japanese sovereignty for the first time in its history; more importantly, it revealed Japan’s growing weakness, and was seen by the West as a pretext for possible colonisation of Japan. The recovery of national status and strength became an overarching priority for the Japanese, with the treaty’s domestic consequences being the end of Bakufu (Shogun) control and the establishment of a new imperial government.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Xenu)



This week’s guests-

Tom will be on to whore Mission Impossible Whatever which is fine I guess.

The Church of Scientology says that a human is an immortal, spiritual being (thetan) that is resident in a physical body. The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is observed in advanced Scientology texts that lives preceding the thetan’s arrival on Earth were lived in extraterrestrial cultures.

At least Tom doesn’t believe in any wierd culty things like, oh, say, Mormonism.

Word Blerd

Tonightly the topic is Trump, another fellow with very strange ideas about what does and does not constitute ‘consent’.  The panel is Penn Jillette, Brina Milikowsky, and Ricky Velez.

The real news below.