Gremlins and glitches prevented earlier postings; all fixed now, thanks to the great IT team (a solid one man operation by member, “There Is No Spoon”) at Democrats for . . . → Read More: Flint, Freedom, and the State of the Union
Gremlins and glitches prevented earlier postings; all fixed now, thanks to the great IT team (a solid one man operation by member, “There Is No Spoon”) at Democrats for . . . → Read More: Flint, Freedom, and the State of the Union
Funeral services for Lowell Steward, a Tuskegee Airman, will be held Monday morning in Los Angeles. Steward earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Italy in 1944. He died of pneumonia last Wednesday, aged 95.
The World Health Organization reported last week that western Africa’s death toll from Ebola is approaching 7,400. Nearly half the deaths have occurred in Sierra Leone, where there are an estimated 8,800 active cases (6,900 confirmed). As an anti-contagion measure, Sierra Leone and Guinea have imposed bans on New Year’s Eve celebrations. In related medical news, those politicians who went into a frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy over the supposed threat of Ebola to Fortress America have apparently all been struck miraculously mute, though, sadly, only on this particular topic.
Friday, the Obama family arrived in Hawaii for a winter vacation, or, as the President characterized it, a “quiet time-out” before the fourth quarter of his tenure in office. The President is scheduled to return to Washington on January 4, two short days before Republican Congressional majorities start trying to legislate and deregulate the nation back to the 19th century.
Vacation notwithstanding, the President is expected to announce tomorrow that Sally Yates, US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, is his pick for next Deputy Attorney General, replacing James Cole.
The Satanic Temple’s “Snaketivity” holiday display went up yesterday outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, two days after state Senator Rick Jones erected a traditional nativity scene at the same venue. Jones boldly declared, “I’m not afraid of the snake people. I’m sure that Jesus Christ is not afraid.” Both displays have to be dismantled every night. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 12/22/14
After his invigorating Memorial Day weekend trip to Afghanistan, the President leaves the storied delights of Bagram Airfield behind for the shilling fields of DC. No wonder he’s planning to get out of town again by midweek, when he’ll head to West Point to deliver a commencement address focused on foreign policy, advocating what one Administration official calls “interventionism but not overreach.”
But before he gets that far, on Tuesday the President plays host to the fifth annual White House Science Fair. This year’s edition celebrates the achievements of women and girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competitions nationwide.
Speaking of the President, Senator Ted Cruz, intrepid Texan-Canadian-Cuban defender of all things he considers Constitutional, warned last Thursday that the wily Kenyan Usurper and his Senate henchmen are goiing to repeal the First Amendment. Will it happen this week? You never know. Stay vigilant, and keep a bag packed in case you have to flee the house ahead of the secret police coming to haul you off to that FEMA camp you heard tell was being built out there in the woods past Transit Road.
Tuesday, voters will decide whether veteran Congressman Ralph Hall – 91 years old and a lurid example of that weirdest of political creatures, a Democrat turned Republican – should get another kick at the can, or whether he has already done sufficient damage to the Republic and should be replaced by the even more odious John Ratcliffe. If you’re a voter in the Texas 4th, well, to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel, “any way you look at it, you lose.”
Edward Snowden’s first interview with US mainstream media appears Wednesday, when NBC airs a sit-down he taped with the oleaginous Brian Williams in Moscow last week. I reckon the odds of Williams eliciting anything probative are roughly the same as Snowden’s chances of returning home to a tickertape parade and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
With John Conyers’ name back on the primary ballot by order of US District Court Judge Matthew Leitman last Friday, all eyes are on Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who has until June 6 to appeal the reinstatement before the ballot is officially certified. With Conyers on the ballot or as a write-in candidate, the primary will be held on August 5. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 5/26/14
She might be an obscure political footnote waiting to happen, but Michele Bachmann will always be heroic to me. Even among her fellow House Republicans, few would even try to yearn to aspire to attempt to emulate her straight-up weirdness, seemingly involuntary lying, and relentless misunderstanding of pretty much everything about everything. Unlike wannabes such as the suspiciously non-contiguous Sarah Palin or the implosion-primed Nikki Haley, Bachmann is truly the GOP’s current It Girl.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, Bachmann kicked off the 113th Congress by unsuccessfully trying to repeal Obamacare. Yes, that’s something the House Majority does compulsively at this point, like meth or knuckle cracking, but Bachmann brought a whole new level of earnest sincerity to this nasty habit:
ThinkProgress managing editor Igor Volsky covered himself completely with dust and glory in his enviably nimble reporting on Bachmann’s speech:
Yes, she certainly has a unique way of going about all kinds of things, so unique that the Office of Congressional Ethics has apparently developed something of a fascination with it:
In a piece last weekend, Charles M. Blow of the New York Times insisted:
Sorry, but please speak for yourself, Mr. Blow. I expect no such thing, at least from Republicans.
As for you, Michele Bachmann, long may you run, be it for office or from the law.
TWO: Pride and Prejudice and Piss and Vinegar
Bachmann isn’t the ’12 cycle’s only failed Republican hopeful still attracting headlines. Two of her primary rivals are at the center of a fascinating new story by Joshua Green of Businessweek:
Damn. As much as I loved seeing Barack Obama and Joe Biden beat Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I reckon I’d have loved seeing Obama and Biden beat Gingrich and Santorum just a little more. Or should that be Santorum and Gingrich?
Poor bastards should have called me; I could have told them the only one who would get to be President was the guy who already had been for four years.
Like Gingrich, Santorum has fallen back on public speaking gigs, continuously augmenting an already lengthy record demonstrating why he’s unfit to hold any elected office, of any kind, anywhere, ever. Santorum, essentially, is very hard to distinguish from a vile little bigot:
In a clear indication that Santorum slept through every stinking thing that happened in the world from his regrettable birth in 1958 right up until the moment he took the stage, his grubby little stem-winder included this astounding pseudo-observation:
Ironically, he would have been eloquently correct had he been talking about catastrophic climate change, but Santorum is on record as a stalwart climate change denialist, who once sneered on the campaign trail:
Vexing as you and I might find it, Santorum’s refusal to go away is a timely morale boost for the vile little bigot wing of the Republican Party (often referred to simply as “the Republican Party”) since said wing might soon have to adjust to the tragedy of life without vile little bigot Gary Bauer. Bauer might be irrelevant now to all but three or four other Republicans – who are probably related to him – and he quite possibly spends most of his time floating in a jar of formaldehyde on a shelf in a dark K Street basement, but he spoke Tuesday at a DC march organized by the National Organization for [some] Marriage, waving his stunted little saber valiantly at the Republican Party and the spring sky over the National Mall, and declaring the preservation of marriage inequality his personal line in the litmus:
I guess I’m a sentimental fool, but somehow I find it touching that Gary Bauer is still out there on the front lines of the 21st century, fighting to keep a Republican Party recklessly flirting with the 20th stuck firmly in the 19th. And the Unhappy Warrior has company, such as the equally post-relevant Mike Huckabee:
As someone who’s been suggesting they take a walk for years now, I for one can’t wait.
THREE: Neighborhood Watch
Speaking of raging bigots, the festering sore on the body politic known as the Westboro Baptist Church is still widely acknowledged as an on-point answer to the question: What’s the matter with Kansas? But Fred Phelps’ hatemongering Topeka “church” couldn’t deter a decorative new neighbor from settling in right across 12th Street, a gay-rights center, complete with rainbow-painted clapboard and a conspicuous Pride flag:
While Planting Peace works for a worm-free Guatemala, the folks across the street will be equally busy. Currently, they’re gearing up to picket not only the Final Four at the Georgia Dome, but Kansas City concerts by Bon Jovi (who apparently “stood by silently” while gay people “took over this nation”), Itzhak Perlman (for killing Jesus), Carrie Underwood (for “promoting sin and shame”) and Fleetwood Mac (because “singer Stevie Nicks proudly joins fellow sodomitical harlots Lady Gaga, Cher and Madonna as a well known ‘gay icon'”).
Is it just me or is Sodomitical Harlots the greatest band name ever? Oh, and call me petty, but why, when I simply want to know what the Westbores are up to, do I have to wander around 10 of their deeply hideous websites? Why can’t they just put everything together under one convenient URL, like GodHatesEveryoneButUs.com? Continue reading Take Five (Zero Worship edition)
Summer began yesterday, and with both the weather and election campaigns heating up, intelligent public discourse and basic civility continue to decline at alarming rates.
Dearborn’s 17th Arab International Festival last weekend drew thousands of Arab Americans and a dozen bigoted morons. The “Bible Believers” are a group of so-called Christians who staged a missionary event on Friday evening near the festival site. One of them carried a pig’s head on a pole. Others carried signs with sentiments like “Muhammad… is a… liar, false prophet, murderer, child molesting pervert.”
The goal was to convert Muslims in attendance to Christianity. Now, I’m no psychic, but my guess would be that the effort was pretty much one-hundred-percent unsuccessful. The thuggish spectacle was not repeated on Saturday, but only because the “Bible Believers” evidently had other fish to fry:
So much hate, so little time.
Speaking of pigs, the Montana GOP convention was also held last weekend, featuring the dubious delights of an appearance by Newt Gingrich and a raffle for a shotgun, a shovel and a roll of duct tape. Also on display was a splendid example of the right wing’s idea of humor:
Actually, sir, it’s your entire party that is the sideshow, and I hope someday soon American voters in the millions will finally decide that they’re sick of the damned circus. Speaking of circuses, some dull-witted clown named Barbara Espinosa recently had a few things to say about President Obama:
Espinosa later doubled down on her remarks:
Strangely enough, I just went over to the sewer that Ms. Free Speech calls her blog and there’s not a trace of the post. Did I miss “a takeover of America” or is it possible that Espinosa actually found a shame reflex somewhere in the murky shallows of her reptile brain?
TWO: “If we appear to seek the unattainable…”
Last Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement, the foundational manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society. After half a century, what’s most striking about the Port Huron Statement is its undiminished immediacy, and while that is partly attributable to the timelessness of its themes, it is also because so many of its goals are as dauntingly beyond reach now as they were then.
The document’s main author, Tom Hayden, was 22 at the time. Looking back, he notes that 1962 was not at all representative of the Sixties as they are generally remembered:
In another reminiscence, Hayden links the Port Huron Statement directly to current activism:
Hayden also sounds a cautionary note:
THREE: V for Vagina
I can’t imagine what the SDS founders would have thought about the “vagina” controversy unfolding 50 years and 100 miles away in Lansing. For starters, they would might shocked to see the word “vagina” appearing in print outside a medical textbook, but of course a lot of things have changed in half a century. Or have they?
It began Wednesday of last week with Democratic legislator Lisa Brown’s now-famous comments about Michigan Republicans’ newest scheme to rob women of their reproductive rights:
For the temerity of speaking her mind as a woman and a legislator on an issue affecting all women in Michigan, Brown was barred from participating in floor debates, on any topic, for a day. A fellow Democrat, Barb Byrum, was given a similar penalty for “shout[ing] at the presiding officer after she was not recognized to speak”:
Last Saturday, Brown penned an eloquent op-ed for the Detroit News, noting:
Vowing “I am going to speak out anyway,” Brown did just that on Monday, appearing in a reading of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues outside the Capitol building alongside other state legislators and the playwright herself. The event was a great success:
For all the poker-faced denials, all the smokescreens, all the misleading doubletalk and all the sanctimony, the War on Women is real, it’s dangerous and it’s getting worse by the day, and despite the magnificent fighting spirit of Lisa Brown and her allies, they need to watch their backs. There are 64 Republicans in the Michigan House, but the first of the three anti-choice bills passed by a vote of 70-39. Continue reading Take Five (Summer of Shove edition)
Not that there had been much suspense about it beforehand, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made her loyalties in the Republican Party’s War on Women abundantly clear when she suffered mild friction burns in her haste to sign the Women’s Health and Safety Act into law.
The bill has nothing to do with women’s health and safety, of course. It’s just another iteration of the standard Republican end-run around women’s reproductive rights, comparable to those already implemented in various other states:
Brewer’s stance on another issue, however, was a little more surprising. She vetoed for a second time a bill that would have allowed firearms to be carried on public property, although the veto was motivated by fiscal and consensus concerns rather than ideological ones:
Hey, scoff if you must, but if you want smart policy from an administration like Brewer’s, it’s invariably going to be unintentional.
Elsewhere on the gun (out-of-) control front, an Oklahoma legislator recently offered up a novel rationale for the open-carry bill that recently passed out of committee and is headed for a legislative vote. Ralph Shortey, a – surprise! – Republican, treated fellow members of the Senate Committee on Public Safety to this harrowing anecdote:
Maybe I’m naïve, but it seems to me that all this proves is that Oklahoma should consider an open-carry law for clubs. If they’re good enough for Shortey, they should be good enough for everyone else.
TWO: “… one of these massive, nuclear submarine-type sturgeon.”
It’s a pleasure to report that, despite Scott Walker’s worst intentions, at least one part of Wisconsin’s government is still functional, the Department of Natural Resources.
Near Shawano, DNR wardens recently discovered a sturgeon reckoned to be 125 years old. The fish was laying eggs in the Wolf River, over 30 pounds’ worth. The sturgeon’s length was measured at seven feet, three inches, and its weight at 240 pounds.
The wardens kindly tagged and released the fish before Wisconsin Republicans could take a cleaver to it like they have everything else in the state.
THREE: Do you know the way to San Jose? And could someone please turn up the heat in here?
Two recent incidents indicate that the TSA might finally have succeeded in its apparent mission to drive air travelers completely bonkers.
On April 10, a woman lit up a cigarette in a nonsmoking area of the B Concourse at Denver International. Asked to extinguish the cigarette, she complied. Then she removed her clothing. Whatever the relevance may be to the smoking and/or the stripping, the woman told Denver police officers that she hadn’t slept the night before (the incident occurred at about 8:45 in the morning). She was later taken to an area hospital for a medical assessment.
You’re probably thinking this was just a weird, one-off occurrence, worthy of a smile but not a second thought. Not so fast, gentle reader. Consider a question recently posed by Gothamist:
Well, maybe. A week after the Denver incident, one John Brennan, bound for San Jose, California, was going through security screening at Portland International. At some point in the process, Brennan decided to – whoops! – take his clothes off, too:
Which, for the latter group mentioned, at least, put a little fun back into the reliably crappy experience of modern air travel.
Gothamist didn’t venture into woo territory searching for a connection between the two incidents, but there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. Who’s to say that there isn’t something nefarious afoot here? Some plot to destabilize America via inconvenient nudity? Some weird George A. Romero scenario, but instead of becoming zombies, the infected attack an unsuspecting world by jiggling their jiggly bits at them in inopportune settings? Or maybe Brennan was just on something?
Until further data is available, I guess I’ll just go with the Romero scenario, then. I hope at least the judge remembers to thank Brennan for not smoking. Continue reading Take Five (Wild, Wild Life edition)
This is the 43rd edition of Take Five, which celebrates its first anniversary next Monday – or would, were the world not perched perilously on the precipice of a moral abyss unprecedented in the majestic sweep of the last, say, six and a half months.
Back in May, I commented on a decision by Dwight Probasco, principal of Wasilla High School, to drop Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the school’s graduation ceremonies repertoire following a parent’s complaint that the song was inappropriate due to its composer’s sexual orientation. An abridged version of the song ended up being performed by the school’s “symphonic jazz” choir, though, and so legendary Wasilla – proud crystal meth capital of Alaska and the place where Sarah Palin reads, oh, pretty much all the newspapers and magazines that have been in front of her over all these years – forfeited its claim to being the Last Bulwark against the Gay AgendaTM.
That daunting mantle had to be picked up 2,756 miles southeast, in Traverse City, Michigan, where Cherry Knoll Elementary School has been gearing up for this year’s Christmas concert. As the program came together, the school’s music teacher boldly decided to alter the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” to avoid having the children sing about “gay apparel,” as the term purportedly caused the kids to giggle.
Following widespread criticism, school principal Chris Parker has since decreed that the young warblers revert back to the original lyrics. America’s desperate search for the Last Bulwark against the Gay AgendaTM continues.
TWO: Panic in Detroit
Elsewhere in Michigan, another city seems poised to fall under the fiscal control of the state government. Michigan’s Emergency Financial Manager Act of 1990 was updated last March, a change which:
That this legislation occurred under Governor Rick Snyder is reason enough to think it’s a bad thing. “Arbitrary and capricious” pretty much sums up Snyder’s entire approach to governing. It’s not much of a stretch to believe that it’s simply another way to erode public sector workers’ rights and subvert municipal self-determination. Of course, there are alternative views:
Although they too smell just a little off:
In April, Benton Harbor became the first municipality in Michigan affected by the revised act, later joined by Flint and Pontiac. This week, Snyder’s government began a review of Detroit’s financial situation. Depending on the outcome, Detroit might be next.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a Democrat, has already incurred the wrath of public employees by proposing to lay off 1,000 city employees and negotiating 10 percent pay cuts with those who would keep their jobs. AFSCME has declared its willingness to cooperate with the city government, but reaching a compromise is bound to be difficult and painful. Without one, though, it’s a safe bet that Lansing will step in.
So how might state control of Detroit work? If Pontiac and Benton Harbor are any indication, it wouldn’t be pretty:
Legal challenges against the revised act on grounds of unconstitutionality are pending. I hope they get expedited. Any day now, Snyder might decide that Michigan can no longer afford courts. Continue reading Take Five (Dejection Year edition)
Back in 1942, the University of California at Berkeley awarded a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering to Harold Egbert Camping. That wouldn’t be unusual, except that Camping seems to have no mathematical aptitude whatsoever. And/or he’s just a liar.
Camping, a self-taught Bible instructor, runs Family Radio International, which broadcasts on 66 stations, but he’s become much more famous for recurrent predictions about Armageddon. Most recently, he claimed May 21 was the drop-dead date. It was not:
Which is sort of an odd reaction, since he’s had egg on his face before:
This go-round, however, Camping was sure he had it sussed, and when it became clear that he didn’t, he embarked on a brief spiritual retreat:
Sufficiently cheered by a couple of days at the motel, he returned to the spotlight to announce that the correct, can’t-miss, this-time-for-sure date is October 21. He also managed to spin his May 21 prediction thus:
Ah, well, that must be it.
Camping’s problem with numbers was demonstrated once again when the topic shifted to money:
But of course this isn’t about money. It’s about faith:
I have no proof, but I suspect the motel already has a room reserved for two for October 22. Continue reading Take Five (Rapture-Almost-Ready edition)
What is happening in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is a prime example of land-grabbing and people-kicking. Thanks to Governor Rick Snyder’s actions, Joseph Harris, the Emergency Manager there, has “seized control over the duties and responsibilities held by Benton Harbor’s elected officials, its commissions, and its financial resources.” One of the specific things Harris has done is take an area on the lakefront, part of which is a public park that was deeded to the city “in perpetuity”, and handed it over to a group called Harbor Shores, which plans to turn it into a high-end golf resort with annual dues of $5,000. This in a city with an average annual income of $10,000.
Oh, and did I mention that the majority of the population of Benton Harbor is black? I’m sure that’s no coincidence.
Enough with giving more and more tax breaks to corporations and their rich buddies, while the rest of us have to carry the majority of the burden of those tax breaks on our backs. I think you believe we all live in Wonderland, where down is up, back is forward, and the Tea Party is running things. Most of us, except those who drink the swill you serve them daily, live in the real world. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck. Most of us don’t have lobbyists to fight for us (hat-tip to the President). Enough!
To the “news” outlets: ENOUGH! Enough with the infotainment you serve up daily as “news.” It’s not news. It’s scandal-mongering. It’s misleading headlines and stories full of lies. It’s paying a whole lot of attention to a gathering of a few hundred Tea Baggers and mostly or completely ignoring large protests against the Great Over-reachers of 2011. Enough with giving the Republicans and Teapublicans significantly more time on the air than you give Democrats and other sane people.
Don’t believe me? Check out the line-ups for most of the Sunday talk shows (This Week, Meet the Press, and Face the Nation). On February 13, 2011 alone, there were 7 Republicans spread among those three shows, and zero Democrats. Harry Reid was supposed to be on Face the Nation, but was bumped for the umpteenth appearance by John McCain (a Republican, in case you weren’t aware). I won’t even bother with Fox; they are blatantly anti-Democratic. Continue reading ENOUGH!