Turkey, Sayreville, and Some Democrats Get It Wrong

DDI.

Turkey’s actions, however it thinks itself justified by its internal and regional politics, have been outrageous on the international front and strike the wrong balance for a country concerned about its security.

Turkey should have promised aid long ago when the international coalition against ISIL formed. Aid helps promote peace and opens new channels. Aiding the Kurds in the fight against ISIL might further the peace talks with its Kurdish opposition and win support for coexistence within Turkey among its Kurds, 20% of its population and long oppressed. One thing is sure: the act of denying support and access only hardened old tensions and angered the international community and the Kurds at home. Turkey is missing a unique opportunity to forge a new era of cooperation by failing to focus on a dangerous regional enemy and turn a new page.

That missed opportunity—which Turkey is now trying to regain—may prove to be a greater threat to Turkey’s future than the narrow concerns that drove it to launch air attacks early last week on the Kurdish rebels, taking advantage of the Kurdish forces’ engagement with ISIL.

After hitting the Kurds with F-16s, Turkey accused the Kurds of using Kobani support as a “blackmail” tactic for the peace process. In reality, Turkey is using Kobani to further its wrongheaded military aims and as blackmail to compel the US coalition to attack and engage the Assad regime in Syria.

Turkey’s change of direction may help in the fight over Kobani. But it may come too late to win brownie points internationally or further peace internally.

II.

Attitudes in response to the Sayreville hazing range from cavalier to laissez-faire to open anger and hostility—all which point to evidence that we have a larger problem: we are becoming a nation of bullies and victims who are to minimize their degradation and find the humor in their shame. It matters less the details of who did what; the crime here is the attitudes that are shaping the response of both the children and adults. It seems that few can see or realize the moral failing put on display by the hazing. Whether as a potential threat or a real one, physical restraint is not “bonding,” it is intimidation. It takes away a fundamental right to feel safe and secure physically among peers. It’s a social form of attack that violates every moral and legal practice, but few seem to get it. All have dismissed the homoerotica in the nature of the hazing which was planned and executed; the lights out symbolic of denial.

Evidence the young female student quoted in the New York Times as saying, “We sure as hell hate them now,” about the victims. She feels her righteous indignation is justified by her sacrifice—not being able to attend football games. She has not a single thought of empathy for those hazed and expressed no ambivalence about the misconduct. She simply wants to pile on. She does not see in her own anger cause for remorse.

In a sport in which individual behavior affects and penalizes the team, many seem to be denying this fundamental relationship and consequence of bad behavior. Too many are focusing on sport and competitive success. If not the hazing, it’s really about a massive failure of character and the community climate which enables, supports and justifies the debacle.

III.

Neither party nor policy is responsible for the shredding of the President’s leadership by Democratic candidates: with job growth unprecedented, GDP growth up, troops at home, uninsured numbers reduced, US oil production globally number one, the Dow doubled, consumer confidence tripled, and higher wages on his plate and several successful fixes for the bureaucracy in progress, his opposition is in name only. Largely without support or cause. Continue reading Turkey, Sayreville, and Some Democrats Get It Wrong

Democrats Getting My Goat

Grumpy2Grumpy: You know, Mouse, it is usually the Teapublicans that get my goat, but every now and then the Democrats get my grumpy old self going more than any Teapublican ever could. It seems to get worse just before the elections and this year is no different.

Mouse: I hear ya loud and clear, Grumpy. I haven’t been checking my e-mail as often as I should because of all the pleas for money. (BTW: sorry about not getting your e-mails for 3 days because of that… oops…)

Grumpy: The closer we get to this midterm (and very important) election, the more the Democrats seem to go a little bit insane. My e-mail inbox is getting flooded with fundraising pleas. The theme this year seems to be “The Sky is Falling!” We wonder why Democratic turnout is bad in these off-year elections but maybe the answer is in the mirror. Most of our mothers urged us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say then we should not say anything. Democrats should learn to put that rule into effect when talking about ourselves.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about from the doom and gloomers:

• “devastated…  (re: Michelle)”
• “6 points down”
• “utterly crushed”
• “devastating defeat”
• “most crushing failure in history:”
• “everything is falling apart, Friends”
• DOOM FOR DEMOCRATS?!?!

These are just the subject lines. You should see what is in the e-mails themselves!

Mouse: I’ve heard these e-mails describe as sounding like desperate ransom notes. Ya know, the “bad guys” are raising tons of money and if you don’t send me some small bills (but large bills would be better) right f’ing now I’m gonna be a goner!

Hmmm… I wonder would that work for me if I sent out e-mails pleading for cheese?

Grumpy: I shouldn’t get too down on the Democrats’ e-mail campaigning, since I did manage to find some positive ones.

• “STUNNING loss for Mitch: Long-ignored red state race could destroy GOP Senate takeover”
• “S-U-P-E-R-W-O-M-A-N” (Referencing Michelle Obama)
• “We’re winning again!”

Sometimes the e-mails just sound pathetic and pleading:

• “Absolutely urgent”
• “Please, don’t click delete”
• “check, check … missing”

Sometimes they are just confusing:

• “counting on you {{CF:Digital-FirstNameSpecial,DefaultTo=}”

How about trying just a little honesty? We don’t need to be scared by predictions of doom. We don’t need rosy scenarios to pump us up. We shouldn’t ever do pathetic. We certainly don’t need to be confused. We’re Democrats for God’s sake! We do confused and disorganized naturally. Just be honest with us. Give us the facts and figures and tell us what you need done; we can take it from there. Continue reading Democrats Getting My Goat

Sunday Talks, 10/19/14

On ABC’s This Week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins will be discussing Ebola. Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan will . . . → Read More: Sunday Talks, 10/19/14

Friday Talking Points [324] -- Don't Panic

FTP3That headline, of course, quotes the cover to the fictional Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: “Don’t Panic.” This week, it seems like timely advice, as the news media and American politicians go into full-blown panic mode over one death and two illnesses within the United States.

We’ll get to all that in a bit, since we will be pre-empting our talking points this week for my own “Don’t panic!” rant (which, for science-fiction fans who were already thrilled with this week’s title, will also quote the learned philosopher Ellen Ripley). But first let’s quickly run through some other political news, before we get to the idiocy of the “travel ban fever” running rampant among American politicians.

The biggest news from any of the myriad state-level candidate debates held in the past week came out of Florida, where Governor Rick Scott refused to appear (for seven agonizingly long minutes) on stage with Charlie Crist’s fan. No, really. “Fangate” became a thing this week.

Late-night comic Craig Ferguson, tried to helpfully explain the political theater to his audience by quipping (this is from memory, I should mention, and not a transcript): “There’s a difference, of course, between a politician and a fan. One oscillates back and forth and blows a steady stream of hot air in your face… and the other is a fan.”

Late-night humor aside, the ad wars are getting fierce, in the home stretch of the 2014 campaign, including one Republican virtual clone of the infamous Willie Horton ad, now running in Nebraska. Outside of the ad wars, Republicans are showing they know how to charm the lady voters, once again, as state lawmaker Steve Vaillancourt of New Hampshire offered his thoughts on a House race in his state: “Let’s be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.” He also compared her to a “drag queen.” This provoked one of the best responses I’ve ever heard in politics, from Jess McIntosh of EMILY’s List: “This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings.” Well said!

In other crazy and offensive things said by Republicans (always a fertile field, it seems), President Obama is either secretly leading Africa instead of the United States, or just plain crazy (according to that noted expert on sanity, Donald Trump). And an elected Republican official in Missouri is trying to talk the American military into launching a coup against Obama. No, really. She responded to the uproar her comments caused by stating: “Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it’s an election.” Um, no. In fact, a disaster got elected to an innocent and simple job because of a previous election. She’s up for re-election this year, too (so get out and vote, non-seditious people of Jefferson County, Missouri!).

Federal judge and wife-beater Mark Fuller has still inexplicably not been impeached.

A candidate for Senate died, and the mainstream media largely yawned and ignored it. Doug Butzier was the Libertarian candidate in a race that could be decided by a razor-thin margin in Iowa, so you’d think more people would be analyzing the possible effect, but sadly, this has not happened.

It’s a new week, so Marco Rubio has a brand-new ISIS-fighting strategy! Which completely contradicts all his other positions on the issue, but hey, who’s counting?

John McCain called for Obama to appoint a “Ebola czar,” which he promptly did. Wonder how long it’ll be before McCain and other Republicans start complaining about all of Obama’s czars again? Here’s McCain, tweeting from 2009: “Obama has more czars than the Romanovs – who ruled Russia for 3 centuries. Romanovs 18, cyberczar makes 20.” How quickly we all forget, eh?

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has been doing an exemplary job reporting on how we got to where we are now on public health and Ebola, first getting a stunning interview with the head of the National Institutes of Health. You’d think a statement like: “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine [for Ebola] in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” would have raised some interest in other parts of the media, but not so much. Stein followed this scoop up with a deeper dive into why we were so unprepared for Ebola, which is also a heck of a lot better journalism than anything you see on television these days.

And finally, just to end on a light note (don’t panic!), President Obama’s credit card just got declined. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week, for focusing in on actually doing something productive which might wind up doing some good in the midst of the Ebola panic. Rather than beating the “travel ban” drums, Casey instead called for more money for the “Hospital Preparedness Program,” which as you can see (from the chart) has had its budget slashed in recent years. Bravo to Senator Casey for being just about the only person in Washington who has proposed something useful that might actually be quite proactive in the future, instead of demagoguing and scapegoating along with the rest of the political world.

But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to Charlie Crist and his campaign team. After “Fangate,” the Florida Democratic Party wasted not a second of time in getting a hilarious ad up on the air. The ad ends with quite possibly the funniest thing we’ve yet heard in the 2014 election cycle: “Next debate airs Tuesday. It’s going to be cool.” Crist’s campaign is also now going to send donors a hand-held fan if they donate at least five bucks. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [324] — Don’t Panic

Teapublicans Scarier Than Ebola

Grumpy2Grumpy: I suppose a word of warning is appropriate, and by that I mean let me tell you a little about my grumpy old self. If you end up not liking me or what you read here, at least you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Since Democrats For Progress is a political website, let’s get the politics out of the way first. I am a Socialist. If you think that means I believe in gulags and forced indoctrination of children then you are really in the wrong place. I suggest you check out your local library or, at the very least, use Google to find out about Socialism.

I believe that certain essentials to living should be community endeavors. Our infrastructure, our safety, our health system(s) are too important to be left to the whims of a capitalist’s bottom line.

That’s enough about politics for now; that talk always makes me grumpy. Other things that make me grumpy include hypocrisy (other people’s, not my own), greed (see previous disclaimer), racism, inequality, poverty and willful ignorance. Hardly a complete list, of course. I didn’t include things like my trick knee that likes to give out halfway up the steps from the basement.

Something that doesn’t make me grumpy is the fact that I was raised by two strong women. If we last long enough with each other in this mythic blogosphere place, you’ll probably hear a lot more about them. Each trod a very rough road and I am sure that I made them very grumpy at times. I just hope I didn’t disappoint them too badly.

Another thing that doesn’t make me grumpy is that when things go very badly with this blog, I have a co-conspirator to blame it on. That’s her, my muse mouse, peaking over my left shoulder (of course it would be to my left… duh) in my very bad selfie above. That little mouse will be responsible for anything I say that makes any sense at all, and the best part is that she works cheap. A little cheese is all it takes. If she is particularly lenient with her criticisms I will even shred the cheese for her so she doesn’t have to chew so hard.

Mouse: Hi. You can call me Mouse. Most people do. Supposedly it’s because I can be a bit mischievous and I really like cheese. I hope it’s not because they think I have big ears. That would be mortifying.

I’m a liberal Democrat. I can’t imagine being anything else.

Anyway, I’ve known Grumpy as an on-line friend for many years, and just between you and me, he’s not as cantankerous as he says he is… but I’m not gonna put that to a test just now. If he says he’s in a bad mood and he’s got some cheese, good enough for me.

Grumpy: So let’s get on with it, Mouse. Here is what is making me grumpy today.

I read this week that a person — make that an idiot — thought it was a good idea to joke about having Ebola while sitting on an airplane. Why would anyone think this was either funny, at best, or only mildly irritating, at worst? That is gallows humor at its worst. It should be no surprise to anyone that this idiot got taken off the plane by people who aren’t idiots in hazmat suits. Wouldn’t you have loved to have seen the look on his face as those “suits” came up the aisle?

If I was on that plane I’d certainly be grumpy. Probably grumpy enough to punch the guy in the nose, but then he’d start bleeding on me and we’d both be carted off by the “suits.” That would make me as idiotic as that guy.

Well, what’s one idiot, right? There’s always one in every crowd, right? But what if you have a whole crowd of guys like that idiot? Well, unfortunately we have just such a group right here in the good old US of A. I like to call them the Teapublican Party (aka the GOP).

Actually, I do the idiot on the plane a disservice comparing him to the Teapublicans. He only thought he was making a lame joke. The Teapublicans, on the other hand, are taking what is already a scary disease and trying to make political hay out of it. With the midterm elections just around the corner, it looks like they are trying to turn Ebola into this cycle’s October Surprise!

Don’t take my word for it; just do a quick Google search for “GOP Ebola quotes.” I just did that and here are the first two headlines that pop up: “8 Conservative Ebola Freakouts That Blamed Obama” from Talking Points Memo, and “Why conservatives blame Obama for Ebola” from CNN.

This Talking Points Memo article gives a good rundown that includes Teapublican faves like Mike Huckabee, “The Donald,” Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh. Competition like that is hard to beat, but I think a former GOP executive from South Carolina beats that crew handily for outrageous, idiotic and possibly dangerous rhetoric. His name is Todd Kincannon and if I had my way his mug would grace the page of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary next to the entry for “Stupid.” Here is how Kincannon expounded on Ebola, 140 characters at a time, via Twitter:

“People with Ebola in the US need to be humanely put down immediately.”

“There’s just no other way with Ebola. We need to be napalming villages from the air right now.”

“We elected a Kenyan as president. Now nobody has a job and there’s an Ebola outbreak in Dallas. These things are not coincidental.”

“There’s nothing wrong with compassion. But there’s also nothing wrong with survival. Sometimes you gotta put Old Yeller down.”

Those are bad enough, but Kincannon doesn’t hold back about his contempt for an entire continent or at least the inhabitants of it. Here are a few gems from this idiot about Africa, or, more accurately, Africans: Continue reading Teapublicans Scarier Than Ebola

Police Bullets Kill People and Truth

DDA cop’s strongest weapon is the truth. Honesty is more powerful than his or her bullets. I can sense doubts, objections and disclaimers rushing forward. Honesty won’t save you from physical threats, from people armed with guns! True, but is the prime strength of policing the biggest capacity for violence? It’s a dangerous world! True, but is strength measured by who’s quicker to the trigger?

An irony of violence is it loses its strength when it is applied for the wrong reasons or when it serves the wrong purpose. When state violence steps outside of the law, or only serves itself, it is illegal. It violates the social order it cunningly claims it protects.

More and more, violence is embraced by individual police officers, who cite a person’s actions as “threatening” to their own safety and welfare. This assertion is not made on behalf of public safety, but officer safety: the state is making the claim on behalf of its right of enforcement that officer safety, no matter the degree of doubt about the claims of “threat,” is paramount, above all public good and order. It asserts the police decision is supreme. This is a meta-legal process. It argues I have to kill to protect my right to kill and to protect my person, and my judgement is sufficient alone to determine the threat.

The last group of renegades who acted on these self-granted claims of violence and power were the Confederate Cavalry under “Fightin’” Major General Joe Wheeler, who pillaged and sacked Southern plantations, looted their treasures and supplies, and raped their women (to maintain morale), in support of the cause.

Police violence is no longer serving the public; it is acting out personal ends. With the rubber stamp of the state. Protest and the police show up with armored personnel carriers, military rifles, and snipers aimed and ready.

Once the threat that entitled force was “resistance,” violence was justified when the subject was resisting arrest or apprehension. During slavery, Frederick Douglass reported the most common offense for whipping was “impudence;” it was charged whenever it pleased the propertyholder. Today, the police buzz word is the ubiquitous “threat.”

Is violence justified by the feeling of a threat without a real perception? Is the mere idea of a “threat” enabling police to get away with murder?

In some analyses, anger is a threat. An angry officer, “threatened” by a subject, fires and kills.

Are there elements within police culture that tacitly support violence—or vigilantism, the taking of the law into their own hands?

The strongest weapon of policing is the one that meets the goals of policing: to protect and serve, to reduce crime and threats. That weapon is truth. But let’s look at the law.

Violence, which used to be the last resort for police, is now becoming the first choice. The legends of the Wild West, of Dodge City and the OK Corral, haunt certain neighborhoods, where police training standards are disappearing and their fade is supported by administrators who argue the justifications for the wanton and obvious misuse of force, deferring to excuses and denials, and more often, just plain lies.

Trust is based on truth. Trust is the collective virtue that is the basis for the unnamed rights implied and protected by the seldom mentioned Ninth Amendment, that addresses a host of the natural rights of people and communities, including the right to associate and travel freely, without state interference, suspicion or monitoring.

Strangely, no court cases have ever been decided under the Ninth Amendment. It has been alluded to only once, as the basis of the legal protection of privacy within marriage. It does, however, provide constitutional protection that citizens have the right and expectation to be free from state violence—and police shootings—during the normal enjoyment of their lives and their duties and leisure. Further protection is provided by the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects citizens against the denial of those natural rights without due process—which includes snap decisions made by police under duress. Continue reading Police Bullets Kill People and Truth

Stormy Monday, 10/13/14

StormyMondayLiberian nurses and physician’s assistants intend to go on strike Monday over insufficient hazard pay, an action that could deal a terrible setback to the country’s efforts to get on top of the Ebola epidemic. During a weekend tour of treatment facilities in Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf personally appealed to health care workers to stay on the job.

Now that a Texas health care worker, despite wearing protective gear, has tested positive for Ebola after “extensive contact” with victim Thomas Duncan before his death last Wednesday, the mainstream media can really get to work fanning the doomsday hysteria with even less regard for scientific accuracy or pesky fact-based caveats such as CDC Director Tom Frieden’s insistence that the new case resulted from “a breach in protocol.”

And if End Times Ebolamania doesn’t gain traction with the audience, at least the media has ISILW (Islamic State in, Like, Wherever) to fall back on. Sunday’s announcement by Defense Department officials that Turkey will make bases available to US and coalition forces conducting air strikes against Islamic State forces is sure to set off another wave of talking heads eager to explain how this move is a complete vindication of the President’s surefooted IS policy, or how it’s sad confirmation of a flailing, rudderless White House.

John McCain, meanwhile, is getting increasingly shrill in his calls for ground troops to be deployed against IS. Scoff if you must, but after destroying five planes himself, the Senator is at least something of an expert on aircraft vulnerability.

You’ll be happy (or maybe not) to hear that Dr. Brian Monahan, attending physician of Congress, posted a reassuring eight-minute video on an internal website last week, explaining special protocols developed to ensure that even in the event of a catastrophic epidemic affecting huge numbers of Americans, Congress will be able, disease-free, to continue doing not much of anything. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 10/13/14

Friday Talking Points [323] -- Is There Anybody Out There?

FTP3I address this desperate attempt at communication to any remaining survivors in America of the apocalyptic scourge that is Ebola. Is there anybody still out there? Because, according to my television for the past few weeks, the death rates have been climbing so high that hundreds of millions of Americans should be pushing up the daisies by now. So, with full sorrow for the uncounted lives lost over the past few weeks, I humbly wonder whether anyone is left on the internet to read this lonely missive.

What’s that? There’s only been one death? No… wait, that can’t be right….

The American news media, already a shadow of its former self, has discovered once again that there is simply no reason not to operate in full-blown panic mode, all the time. Instead of “the apocalyptic scourge that is Ebola,” we have “the scourge that is media hyperventilating over Ebola in apocalyptic tones.” Panic draws eyeballs to the screen. Panic sells. This spills over into the world of politics on an even more primitive level, one that harkens back to Machiavelli: “fear works.” It is easier for politicians to get the populace to fear than it is to love. ‘Twas always thus.

In a week filled with pearl-clutching, there will always be one Republican who stands above the pack in fear-mongering. This week, that dubious prize goes to the executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, who tweeted the following suggestions for a rational response to Ebola:

People with Ebola in the US need to be humanely put down immediately.

The protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate humane execution and sanitization of the whole area. That will save lives.

Ready for the delicious irony? This is a guy who calls himself pro-life. This is one small step away from Monty Python’s famous “Bring out your dead” sketch, in fact. Nothing like “compassionate conservatism,” is there?

Phyllis Schlafly, who is apparently still around, was quick to identify the real problem:

Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional. He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.

Other Republicans were quick to jump on board a conspiracy theory making the rounds in Rightwingistan: that ISIS fighters are already streaming across America’s southern border. Haven’t heard this one? Here’s Tom Cotton, Republican running for the Senate in Arkansas:

The problem is with Mark Pryor and Barack Obama refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and refusing to secure our border. I’ll change that when I’m in the United States Senate. And I would add, it’s not just an immigration problem. We now know that it’s a security problem. Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.

Here’s Duncan Hunter, House member from California, who has a list right there in his hand of ten ISIS fighters who have already been detained at the border:

If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border — it’s that simple. They caught them at the border, therefore we know that ISIS is coming across the border. If they catch five or ten of them then you know there’s going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the border patrol. ISIS doesn’t have a navy, they don’t have an air force, they don’t have nuclear weapons. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming through the southern border — which they already have.

This led the Department of Homeland Security to try to interject some reality into this dark world of paranoid Republican fantasy, by issuing a complete denial:

The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground. DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.

But, you know, that doesn’t mean Republicans can’t go out and campaign on the non-existent threat. Hey, it’s a free country, right? Salon had some fun with this, plus the three other “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” themes that seem to be the sum total of the Republican Party’s campaign playbook:

You don’t have to use all four. It’s more like ordering a combo platter at a restaurant: mix-and-match a plate of two or three different items out of a possible total of four.

You can say that ISIS is trying to infiltrate the country through its porous border; that Ebola-stricken Africans are trying to infiltrate the country through its porous border; that Ebola-stricken ISIS members are trying to infiltrate the country through its porous border; that ISIS is trying to infiltrate the White House and its vulnerable security perimeter; that Ebola-stricken Africans are trying to infiltrate the White House and its vulnerable security perimeter, etc. All of these things are happening, or they’re not, but they could.

President Obama, most generously, is too incompetent to stop any of these things from happening; more likely, he wants them to happen and is abetting their happening, since his end-game is and has always been destruction of the country from the inside.

We don’t think that any Republican Senate candidate has threaded the needle between all four yet — as in, “Ebola-stricken Africans are teaming up with ISIS in Mexico, crossing the porous border, and marching to Washington to infiltrate the White House and its vulnerable security perimeter.” Has any candidate said this yet? If not, first one one [sic] wins a combo platter at Sizzler.

You know what might help in this crisis-to-end-all-crises? Having a Surgeon General in office. President Obama nominated someone for the job last November, but his confirmation has been blocked ever since. For purely ideological reasons. This needs a little more attention from the media, especially considering their absolute obsession with Ebola right now. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [323] — Is There Anybody Out There?

What Is Happening to the Children

DDWhat’s happening to the children? I bet your first thought is which children? The kidnapped girls in Nigeria who captured the interest of the world, gaining commitments from international governments to send troops to pursue their return—but suddenly vanished from our imaginations, or at least our television screens and social media accounts?  Or the 40,000 children massed along the US southern border with Mexico, whose 1,000-mile pilgrimages were met with protests, demanding their immediate return to countries and communities where they would be met by death and rape, the violence of  promised threats from criminal gangs? Or maybe the uncounted and silent thousands of children who suffer from hunger because food assistance was cut by the Congress to “help” the balance sheet of federal deficits driven by Wall Street and tax giveaways to corporations, who are leaving the country in a huff because they want more even as we give the children less.

The Lost Boys of the Sudan. Duane Romanell photo.

The Lost Boys of the Sudan. Duane Romanell photo.

Thousands of children are refugees, displaced by conflict violence, whose only hope is to abandon their homes with their families and flee into the unknown. They live on the edge of civilization, marginalized as temporaries, their lives suspended from education and the security of a society rooting for them to find a future of success. As refugees, they live in a world in which hope is denied.

What’s happening to the education of US children? Why are states and communities resisting a national standard that allows any methodology and curriculum to meet the new standard?

Why is there a virus that suddenly emerges in 47 states that is sending hundreds of children to hospitals and has registered more US deaths than Ebola, with only miniscule public outcry?

Why are teachers engaging in sex with students, according to reports from Louisiana where two female teachers are alleged to have had a threesome with a male high school student; in Virginia where a married female teacher admits to having sex with four high school students; in Red Bank, NJ where a male substitute teacher is accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a student; in Bucks County, PA where a female middle school band teacher is accused of having sex with a student inside her vehicle; in Maplewood, NJ where a female teacher is charged with having oral sex with 15-year-olds on school property; in Brooklyn, NY where a male math and science teacher at one of the city’s elite high schools is charged with having sex with at least six female students, supported by evidence from videos and texts; in New Hampshire, where a male teacher is accused of having sex with a student in his classroom and encouraged the student to cover it up in an e-mail; in El Paso, TX which has reported four incidents so far in 2014; in South Carolina, where among multiple incidents involving multiple students, a female Berkeley County teacher is alleged to have had sex with a three students during a house party? Continue reading What Is Happening to the Children

Stormy Monday, 10/6/14

StormyMondayExisting inventories of Styrofoam food and beverage containers are now being exhausted as the House of Representatives begins transitioning to paper containers following last week’s official announcement. Rest assured that despite this modest green initiative, the House will continue to be a hotbed of climate change deniers, science-averse throwbacks and assorted bullet-headed regressive Tea Party know-nothings. Fun fact: under Nancy Pelosi’s speakership, the House had already switched to “compostable, corn-based products” as part of the “Green the Capitol Initiative,” before Republicans regained the majority and un-greened everything.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will, I suppose, wow ‘em at the American Enterprise Institute Monday morning, when he’ll take the podium for an hour to “[present] a plan to rebuild America’s military strength and reaffirm the United States as a force for freedom and stability around the world.” Meaning he’ll be mouthing a raft of stale clichés about the crying need to reverse every sensible foreign policy direction the Obama Administration has pursued and double down on those that weren’t very sensible. Emboldened by the worthlessness of his possible 2016 primary rivals, the worthless Jindal will repeat his speech the next day at the Citadel in South Carolina, something Republican presidential hopefuls do before moving on to obscurity.

Gregory Holt, a Muslim incarcerated in an Arkansas prison, might be allowed to grow a beard if the Supreme Court finds in his favor. Had Holt thought to commit his offenses (which included stabbing his girlfriend in the chest and cutting her throat) in any of 44 other state jurisdictions, or federally, he could already have grown one. Argument in the case begins Monday.

Has Thomas Duncan infected anyone else in the United States with the Ebola virus? Whether he has or not, US mainstream media will continue a torrent of poorly informed, embarrassingly hyperbolic, offensively America-centric coverage this week, even as it mostly ignores the situation in western Africa, where urgent efforts to staunch the epidemic continue. Among other recent developments, successful containment strategies in Nigeria and Senegal are now being studied for application in other countries.

Duncan ‘s condition was downgraded from serious to critical on Saturday, while further names were added to the list of those being monitored for possible infection after contact with him. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 10/6/14