"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Culture Break: Puccini's Turandot: "Nessun dorma"

With a soloist who may be somewhat of a surprise. The description at YouTube:

Following Luciano Pavarotti's last-minute cancellation due to illness, with barely 20 minutes' notice, Aretha Franklin stuns Grammy audience with soulful interpretation of Puccini's aria from "Turandot".

I don't know if I love her singing it in English, but in this case, I'll make allowances.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In Memoriam: Gene Wilder

I can't admit to being a Gene Wilder fan -- I'm not really a fan type -- but I did enjoy everything I ever saw him in. He really was an offbeat comic genius.

Here's the NYT obit.

And here's the "greatest moments" from Young Frankenstein:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today's Must-Read

Because nobody does cranky like John Cole.

You may have run across this story, about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

His latest refusal to stand for the anthem -- he has done this in at least one other preseason game -- came before the 49ers' preseason loss to Green Bay at Levi's Stadium on Friday night.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

The reaction is as one might expect.

But Cole's reaction to the whole thing sums up my feelings perfectly. Here's his whole summation:

I’m not even going to get into whether or not his statement was right or appropriate, because whop fucking cares?

People don’t die every day defending our freedoms. The vast majority of our military exploits since World War II have been basically military adventurism and over-reactions, and/or attacking the wrong damned country. Our actual constitutional freedoms, with the exception of the 2nd amendment, have been under assault by lawmakers in the defense of the failed war on drugs and protecting Hollywood and software developers, but no foreign agent has been attacking them.
Soldiers and police do die every day defending the law and fighting the war on terror, but that hasn’t defended your freedoms. That’s kept you safe, maybe. The War on Terror itself has been used repeatedly to attack your actual Constitutional freedoms.

So if you want to thank someone for defending your freedoms, along with soldiers and police, thank the ALCU, the SPLC, the Innocence Project, and other folks who are waging a day to day unheralded battle to defend your freedoms.

And if soldiers were dying every day to defend your freedoms, they would be defending Kaepernick’s right to be a dickhead and not stand during the national anthem, for BLM to protest police, and for people and police union’s to say all live matters, and basically everything that someone says or does that pisses you off.

Because freedom means letting people do their own thing, and not sheltering you from things and get hurt feelings from things that offend you. And you know what? If the NFL and the 49ers want to do whatever they can to get rid of Kaepernick, so long as they honor their contractual obligations, fine.

That’s how things work when you are an adult.


Mustang Bobby has a good commentary on this one at Bark Bark Woof Woof and pretty much nails it:

Tell me which is more of a threat to our country: the refusal of a man to stand up during the playing of a song, or the willingness of a lot of citizens to restrict the rights of others because they don’t like what they’re saying or believing?

Read his whole post.

Words Fail Me

Almost. This is one of the more appalling stories I've run across recently:

A Chicago-area woman who showed up at her doctor’s office in pain and bleeding from a dislodged IUD was told that nothing could be done because his practice was affiliated with a Catholic hospital network which opposes birth control.

According to Rewire, Melanie Jones, 28, slipped in her bathroom causing her copper IUD to shift and stab her internally. After getting an appointment to see her doctor, she was told that his “hands were tied” and he couldn’t help her due to restrictions placed upon him and other providers in the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center system.

“I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones said in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”

Sorry Ms. Jones, but your health is not the priority for the Catholic Church -- institutional prerogatives are the priority. We all should have learned that after witnessing the Church's reaction to the child-molesting priests: deny, obstruct, and shuffle them off to greener pastures.

It gets worse:

What surprised Jones even more was when she was informed that no one in her health plan’s network would help because all of the providers were affiliated with the Catholic church which has strict policies when it comes to birth control.

The Church has been gobbling up hospitals in recent years -- I guess since the forced birthers haven't managed to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is their back-door approach to enforcing Church doctrine on the country.

And thanks to Hobby Lobby, they can probably get away with it. (Yes, I know that Alito's opinion stressed that the ruling was narrowly drawn. How long do you think that's going to hold up?)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's New at Green Man Review

A couple of interesting groupings, and of course, lots of reviews of all sorts of stuff. Check it out.

They Don't Give Up

There's a new "study" out that purports to debunk the "liberal" narratives on sexual orientation and gender identity. David Hart, at the Slowly Boiled Frog, points out some of the problems:

 Ryan T. Anderson writes at Heritage Foundation's blog:

A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Co-authored by two of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.

Back the fuck up.

There is nothing new about this and it is not a major report. Major reports are published to peer reviewed scholarly journals. The New Atlantis is not peer reviewed and it is a project of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. EPPC is a conservative Catholic organization headed by Ed Whelan with an assist from  George Weigel. The authors did not engage in an independent investigation of anything. Rather, this is a cherry picking of existing research to suit a predetermined ideological conclusion.

Those two “leading scholars” are Lawrence S. Mayer (who is out of his depth on sexuality — he is a biostatistician-epidemiologist) and Paul R. McHugh. McHugh insists that transgender people do not exist. Everyone involved in this, … paper is a Defender of the Faith™, as is Ryan Anderson.

Hart's points, although rather vehemently stated, are valid: The New Atlantis is not a scholarly journal -- it doesn't seem to publish origina research, it is not peer reviewed, there seems to be no mechanism for vetting submissions other than ideology: It is an organ of the Catholic Church, ultimately, through several layers. Just skimming through on my own, it appears that the authors have followed the path so beloved of anti-gay "Christian" voices -- cherry-picking data and using it to support their predetermined conclusions, while ignoring any data that doesn't. I call it "Faith-Based Science." It's the sort of thing that got Paul Cameron (remember him? He's the guy whose work is still being cited by the likes of Tony Perkins, although they no longer mention him by name -- he's that radioactive) kicked out of every professional organization he belonged to.

Anne Hilt has a more detailed rebuttal. She concludes:

In the end, we must ask why McHugh and Mayer went to such lengths to produce such a long and deeply flawed paper for a journal that isn’t even peer reviewed. First and foremost, it provides a scientific veneer for the public policy goals of their church. Ultimately this paper is about using cherry-picked science to justify religious views rather than an actual review of what the research suggests should be best practice. This public policy work was put in to practice when much of this same paper was used in a deposition in support of HB2. They have somehow contorted themselves to twist the commonly accepted answer of , “it’s complex” into “there’s no evidence.”

In this they have gone against all current medical wisdom, standards of care, and practice. There does not appear to be any awareness or concern that such a contrarian position which could cause so much harm to so many people requires an extraordinary level of proof.

This paper does not suffice as such when it cuts so many corners, resorts to logical fallacies, and claims without either evidence or citation. A solution of “more reparative therapy” is far less supportable than their claims about the biological origins of gender identity. In the end, they have forgotten their vow to “do no harm,” while advocating against both civil and human rights for highly vulnerable minorities.

I have to confess, I simply don't understand the motivations of people who do things like this. I really can't find a point of entry on that. I can understand it better on the part of the Church: it's a matter of power and influence, and the Church has been losing ground steadily over the past few decades, as more and more people come to see that reality and Church doctrine have very little to do with each other. And the Church's behavior during the sexual abuse scandals did nothing to help: it's hard to take seriously as a moral arbiter an institution that is so obviously morally bankrupt.

I am, as it happens, deeply offended by anyone calling this sort of garbage "science." I big portion of my education has been in science, specifically psychology, and this kind of thing is one of the worst perversions there can be, in my book. Not to mention the complete lack of ethics involved.

At any rate, this "study" is now being touted everywhere by the right wing, and as Hilt notes, has already been used in an amicus brief. One only hopes that the opposing counsel can lay hands on someone who knows what they're talking about to rebut it.

Today's Must-Read: The GOP vs. Obama Redux

Well, if Clinton wins (which I think will happen but I'm very superstitious about making predictions like that -- and I can't believe Trump is polling as high as he is), unless we flip the Senate and make inroads in the House, it's going to be more of the Republicans trying to make Obama a one-term president From Charles P. Pierce:

Not that anybody will remember this little thing from Tiger Beat On The Potomac in March of 2017, when everybody will be writing about how Hillary Rodham Clinton's strident rhetoric during the campaign has crippled her ability to govern effectively, or to "reach across the aisle," or to "create bipartisan solutions." But I thought it ought to be noted for the record that the Republican commitment to institutional vandalism will not be going anywhere any time soon, and that there are Republicans—and a few Democrats and faux independents—who see an inert executive to be a political opportunity.

That means the bipartisan show of support she has now—thanks to Donald Trump and the "alt-right," conspiracy-driven campaign Clinton attacked Thursday in Reno—is likely to evaporate as soon as the race is called. If she wins the presidency, Clinton would likely enjoy the shortest honeymoon period of any incoming commander-in-chief in recent history, according to Washington strategists, confronting major roadblocks to enacting her ambitious agenda, as well as Republican attacks that have been muted courtesy of the GOP nominee. "It will be the defining fact of her presidency," Jonathan Cowan, president of the moderate think tank Third Way, said of Clinton's problem of entering office with a divided Congress. "It's unprecedented."

 Good Lord, not these people again. They represent nobody. There is no viable constituency for anything they represent. The Republicans are going to be bad enough, but all HRC is going to need is to be heckled from the Joe Lieberman Memorial Peanut Gallery, especially with Zombie Evan Bayh on the verge of reappearing in the Senate, after his sabbatical during which he helped save representative democracy by being a lobbyist.

I sort of disagree with Pierce about one thing: they do represent somebody, but it ain't us. If you want to find out who, just look up the financial disclosures from their election campaigns to find out who their big donors are.

This is, I think, one of the real indications of what the Republican party has become -- aside from the isolationism, jingoism, racism, etc., etc., it's the absolute refusal to govern the country unless they get their way. I'm convinced that it's one of the effects of incorporating the "Christian" right into their base: these are people who have a hammerlock on what's right (in their own minds) and they are diametrically opposed to everything this country is about. It wouldn't matter who was president, if he or she were a Democrat we'd get the same reaction from the GOP.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today in Disgusting People

Remember Phyllis Schlafly? Staunch opponent of equal rights for women, gays, or just about anyone who's not her? Well, she's showing off her credentials as a general, all-purpose bigot:

With only five months left in the White House, Obama is still hard at work “fundamentally transforming” our country into something much different from the nation we all grew up in. Here are recent examples of how he is determined to transform America by undermining our common culture and language. . . .

On August 16, five federal agencies issued an incredible 16-page, single-spaced “Guidance” warning relief agencies not to discriminate in the use of disaster funds. Agencies receiving funds must “post a statement of nondiscrimination” on all public notices and “should also identify a point of contact for the public to submit complaints of discrimination.”

The Guidance refers to “unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin” which is prohibited by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but it doesn’t stop there. It also tries to ban discrimination on account of “limited English proficiency,” which Congress has never prohibited.

Mind you, this is in the wake of the disastrous flooding in Louisiana that's left something like 30,000 people homeless.

It occurs to me that some of the people I've run into with the most "limited English proficiency" are good old white-bread Americans. You know, the kind that don't believe in education. People who think like Phyllis Schlafly.

Oh, and of course, it's all Obama's fault.

Schlafly would probably consider Chicago beyond the Pale -- after all, this is a city where the county hospital posts notices in English, Spanish and Polish, and has translators available in any number of other languages, and the Board of Election Commissioners sends out notices in English, Spanish, Chinese and Hindi.

It's called dealing with reality. Of course, it's well known that reality has a liberal bias, which I guess is what has Schlafly so upset.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Another Reason Not to Shop at Walmart

I don't shop at Walmart. I never have, and won't until they start shouldering their share of their own costs -- like paying their employees a living wage and providing benefits like insurance and sick leave, rather than have us paying for their food stamps and Medicare.

And it turns out that Walmart has found yet another way to stick it to us:

Now the company has found another way to keep profits up: by externalizing the cost of theft prevention. As a result, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and other Walmarts across the country stores are experiencing a crime wave. Shannon Pettypiece and David Voreacos write at Bloomberg Businessweek: Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy. Tulsa PD's Darrell Ross spends so much time there he's known as Officer Walmart:

It’s not unusual for the department to send a van to transport all the criminals Ross arrests at this Walmart. The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s four Target stores about 300 times.

The police should start charging them -- Chicago charges for ambulances, and it's not cheap.

There was a Walmart Express over on Broadway. (Chicago won't allow retailers like Walmart and Target to put in big-box stores; they have to occupy existing retail spaces or be part of a new development.) I'm happy to report that after a couple of years, it's closed. I'm sorry for the people who are out of work now, but Target is expanding in the city.

(Side note: I hadn't been to the Loop in a number of years until I started going to the Cultural Center on a regular basis. Carson Pirie & Scott on State Street, in the landmark Louis Sullivan building, is now a Target. Sheesh.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Today's Must-Read: Privatize Everything, Redux

Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo examines the charter school movement, taking off from this segment of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight:

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight back-to-school segment on charter schools Sunday was a welcome window into the world of education "reform" grifters. (I just found time to watch it last night.) Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi defined it:
There really are two Americas, one for the grifter class and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land, the world of small businesses and wage-earning employees, the government is something to be avoided, an overwhelming, all-powerful entity whose attentions usually presage some kind of financial setback, if not complete ruin. In the grifter world, however, government is a slavish lapdog that the financial companies that will be the major players in this book use as a tool for making money.

Sullivan details a few of the abuses and scams. I found this particularly interesting:

Aside from the happy talk about experimentation and free-market competition (you may genuflect now), the smokescreen that obscures some of the worst results of lax oversight is the notion that these schools run as non-profits. But nonprofit doesn't mean no cash flow. Oliver points out (and this is not unique) how the president of the Richard Allen charter chain in Ohio contracted oversight of its schools to a nonprofit she founded and who contracted $1 million in management and consulting firms she also founded.

Even in non-profits, someone's making money.

And of course, the real victims here are the kids, who are not getting the education we're paying for.

Today in Disgusting People

Julian Assange.

I've been holding this a couple of days, because the latest news on this front has me totally outraged. CBS News has a good report:

WikiLeaks’ global crusade to expose government secrets is causing collateral damage to the privacy of hundreds of innocent people, including survivors of sexual abuse, sick children and the mentally ill, The Associated Press has found.

In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.

Jim Burroway leads off his post on this with the following:

WikiLeaks has always bragged that it was on a mission to expose government secrets in the quest for open government. It’s [sic] own operations and agendas aren’t nearly so transparent, especially with its recent cooperation with Russian hackers to influence the U.S. presidential elections in favor of Donald Trump. Now Wikileaks is releasing private medical and other files affecting ordinary citizens which have nothing to do with government secrecy[.]

Their record is pretty awful:

“We have a harm minimization policy,” the Australian told an audience in Oxford, England in July of 2010. “There are legitimate secrets. Your records with your doctor, that’s a legitimate secret.”

Assange initially leaned on cooperating journalists, who flagged sensitive material to WikiLeaks which then held them back for closer scrutiny. But Assange was impatient with the process, describing it as time-consuming and expensive.

“We can’t sit on material like this for three years with one person to go through the whole lot, line-by-line, to redact,” he told London’s Frontline Club the month after his talk in Oxford. “We have to take the best road that we can.”

Assange’s attitude has hardened since. A brief experiment with automatic redactions was aborted. The journalist-led redactions were abandoned too after Assange’s relationship with the London press corps turned toxic. By 2013 WikiLeaks had written off the redaction efforts as a wrong move.

Withholding any data at all “legitimizes the false propaganda of ‘information is dangerous,’” the group argued on Twitter.

How about "Some information is nobody's damned business"?

Five years in the Ecuadoran embassy in London doesn't seem to have done Assange's mental state any good. It's obvious that his judgment is impaired.

And tonight he's due to be interviewed by Megyn Kelly. I wonder how far the powers that be will let her go -- I'd love to know more about his relationship with the Russians, considering that he's promising an "October Surprise" for our election. (I was looking for a link for that bit, but Google is showing almost all the stories originating on wingnut sites. We'll see.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Culture Break: Qntal: Name der Rose

Qntal is another of those medieval pop groups that were taking the Berlin club scene by storm a few years ago. It's a group on the order of Eurhythmics or Dead Can Dance -- a knock-out singer and a guy -- or in this case, two guys -- who do everything else. This is one of my favorite cuts of theirs, from their 2004 album Qntal III: Tristan und Isolde. It starts off a little slow, but be patient. It's worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Privatize Everything!

John Cole highlights this story about the new preferred medium of exchange in prisons -- ramen noodles:

The study paints a bleak picture of the state of food available at the prison. Gibson-Light found that black-market food became more valuable after control over food preparation switched from one private firm to another in the early 2000s.
US justice department announces it will end use of private prisons
Read more

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said. “With that change that resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the food the inmates were receiving.”

Inmates at the prison Gibson-Light studied went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend.

The phenomenon is described by Gibson-Light as “punitive frugality”. Spending on corrections has not kept pace with the number of inmates in prisons since 1982, the report found.

This is the logical outcome of the privatization trend I discussed a few days ago -- once things like prisons, schools, roads become subject to profit-taking, the profit-takers' first impulse is to cut costs. We all know what that means.

The little food that is available is usually of extremely poor quality. Correctional officers warned Gibson-Light not to eat it, as it might result in food poisoning. One corrections officer recalled that he once examined the food in the kitchen and found a box that contained “nasty looking full chickens” that was boldly marked several times with the words “not for human consumption”.

Cole has a couple of conclusions of his own:

1.) Instead of creating good jobs in cafeterias in prison for both civilians and give the prisoners an opportunity to learn a skill, we’re happier to heap profits on the investor class who have found prisons can be a gold mine with little oversight.

2.) Because most people, when told this, will shrug and basically say “fuck them, they’re prisoners.” These same people will then bitch about repeat offenders who, after being treated like an animal for ten years are released and commit another crime, because we didn’t spend any time or money educating them, dealing with their mental illnesses, teach them a trade, and generally just shit on them for a decade. So now they are worse than what they were when they went in.

There's a connection there with certain political and religious points of view, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Today's Must-Read: The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Digby nails it again. Considering the stress on Hillary Clinton's "ill health" coming from the right, this is more than relevant:

Back in the 1990s the political establishment made fun of Hillary Clinton for her comment that the press was missing the real story of "the vast right wing conspiracy" that had been dogging her family throughout her husband's presidency. Any mention of it provoked eye-rolls and knowing smirks among the cognoscenti who were all absolutely sure that it was just more evidence of Clinton's guilty conscience over something.

But she was right. And there was some real reporting on it even at the time although as it was revealed, the Republicans would throw out another shiny object and the press pack would go running in the opposite direction like a herd of gazelles so it was very difficult to get a handle on the whole story.

One of the key players is Larry Klayman, whom you may know as "the dumbest lawyer in America no named Mat Staver" (with full credit to Ed Brayton). Klayman specializes in filing frivolous lawsuits, but to give him his due, he's not after winning -- he's after character assassination and causing major headaches for his targets. Digby goes into some detail on his tactics.

The sad part is, it doesn't matter whether any of it is true or not. Digby cites "Cokie's Law" in another article that's worth a look:

Cokie's Law is "it doesn't matter if it's true or not --- it's out there."

The press, of course, eats it up, because it hasn't been about journalism for a long time -- it's all click bait.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What's New at Green Man Review

It's Sunday, and you know what that means. I had hoped to have a couple of new music reviews ready, but the heat, the over-cooled working space, and other distractions just wouldn't allow it.

However, there is some music, and a couple more graphic novels -- and of course, a bunch of other reviews on books, music, film, even ale, so dig in.


The daytime temperatures in Chicago have dropped down to more or less nofmal levels, which is to say upper 70s to low 80s -- at least for the next week or so.

July was the hottest month on record, world-wide.

In 136 years of modern record-keeping, July 2016 was the warmest July according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Because the seasonal temperature cycle peaks in July, that means July 2016 also was warmer than any other month on record. July 2016 was a statistically small 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous record Julys in 2015, 2011, and 2009.

“It wasn’t by the widest of margins, but July 2016 was the warmest month since modern record-keeping began in 1880,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “It appears almost a certainty that 2016 also will be the warmest year on record.”

The map above depicts global temperature anomalies for July 2016. It does not represent absolute temperatures; instead it shows how much warmer or cooler the Earth was compared to the baseline average from 1951 to 1980. Note that the strongest reds are as much as 7 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) above the monthly mean.

Just remember -- climate change is a hoax perpetrated by liberals/Obama/the Chinese, or something.

Today in Disgusting People

In this case, a "charity" that has never really been one of my favorite organizations, especially after reports started surfacing of them trying to wangle a free pass on anti-discrimination laws from the Dubyah administration. (At the time, I also happened to have an online friend who was involved in an employment discrimination lawsuit against them.) This organization being the Salvation Army, which embodies all the worst aspects of evangelical Protestantism and seem to have no limit on how low it can sink:

Normally when we hear about people who use drugs being sent to forced labor camps as so-called “addiction treatment,” we think of places like Vietnam, China or the former Soviet Union. Surely nothing like this could happen in America?

But the civil rights of people who use drugs are not protected in this country. They are often unconstitutionally sentenced to religious programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Many others, as Influence columnist Maia Szalavitz has documented, may be incarcerated indefinitely in so-called “tough love” programs.

Another sinister example is the unpaid “work therapy” which constitutes addiction treatment at the Salvation Army’s drug rehabilitation centers, known as the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) programs.

The programs are pretty much fit the typical "Christian" therapy programs we've run across in, say, the "ex-gay" movement, but even more exploitive:

What does therapy in ARC consist of? The primary form is “work therapy.” In exchange for three hots and a cot, the Salvation Army’s rehab clients are expected to labor for 40 hours a week, without pay, for the profit of the Salvation Army stores.

“Work is used as a therapy to assist persons in learning how to be of service to GOD and others…” Coombs wrote. “[clients] receive no financial wage or other compensation.”

Sorry, but people who have addictions don't need to learn to be of service to "GOD and others." They need professional counseling to help them overcome their addiction.

The article goes into some detail on what the clients receive for their unpaid labor, which is pretty much nothing of any value. It's indicative that 1) the Salvation Army does not keep records of success rates, and 2) has a completion rate of 17%, which by any standard is pathetic.

And of course, since legally the Salvation Army is a church, we're already subsidizing them, and they're not required to report on much of anything.

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is forced labor for the greater glory of the Salvation Army.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today's Must-Read: Swiftboating Clinton

Digny has a good, thoughtful post on the Trump campaign's efforts (with the willing cooperation of the GOP establishment and the usual suspects in the media) to get the whole "brain damage" mantra out there:

I wrote about the latest smear that Hillary Clinton has brain damage for Salon today

How do we know it's the dog days of August in a presidential election year? Swimmers and swiftboats, that's how. Actually until August of 2004, we used to call swiftboating by other names: whisper campaigns and smear jobs. But after the success of the slick, pre-packaged set of lies about Senator John Kerry's war record this tactic will always be known for the boat that first made Kerry a hero and later destroyed his reputation.

This year, we're treated to an especially ugly form of swiftboating.  The right wing smear machine is working at warp speed to convince the nation that Hillary Clinton has brain damage. That is not hyperbole or some kind of a joke. They are literally claiming that she is hiding a physical and mental disability that renders her unfit for office. And they are, as usual, being helped by members of the mainstream media who are simply unable to resist "reporting" such a juicy tale even knowing that it is absurd. And so it becomes part of the narrative, true or not, that will color the rest of the campaign and Clinton's presidency should she win. 

It's really hard to fathom how much the right hates the Clintons. Probably because, first, they were "outsiders" in the White House; second, because try as hard as they might, they weren't able to bring them down.

The sad thing is, it's going to have an effect. We've seen it work again and again, going all the way back to Willie Horton.

I guess the only appropriate response, if someone should bring this up in your hearing, is "Says who?"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Some Good News

And long overdue, as far as I'm concerned: the feds are easing out of contracting with private prisons. From WaPo:

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

The article links to this report, which is worth reading: it details a lack of oversight on the part of the Bureau of Prisons and a lack of attention to procedures (not to mention basic common sense) on the part of contract prisons,

Sadly, the shift doesn't really affect all that many prisons or inmates:

While experts said the directive is significant, privately run federal prisons house only a fraction of the overall population of inmates. The vast majority of the incarcerated in America are housed in state prisons — rather than federal ones — and Yates’ memo does not apply to any of those, even the ones that are privately run. Nor does it apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service detainees, who are technically in the federal system but not under the purview of the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The directive is instead limited to the 13 privately run facilities, housing a little more than 22,000 inmates, in the federal Bureau of Prisons system.

I think one of the most damaging things that the conservative movement has inserted into the public perception is the idea that private businesses are, by definition, more efficient and better run that any government agency. Sounds good on its face, except that it's not true. Private companies are slaves to the profit motive, which means they will cut corners and slide past rules in order to increase the bottom line. I've never understood the rationale for inserting an additional layer of administration into what is properly a function of government, particularly if that extra layer is all about making money.

And there are just some things that shouldn't be subject to profit-taking -- like schools, roads and bridges, and, yes, prisons. We already know that school privatization -- in which school districts contract out to private companies to run schools -- is, while not a disaster, not all that great a solution. And there's no reason to think that privatizing prisons is working out any better.

At any rate, one hopes that state prison systems, which house most of our glut of inmates, will get the hint. I'm not going to hold my breath, though.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Karma's a Bitch

Via Joe.My.God.:

As we are repeatedly instructed, God uses hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and lethal diseases to punish people for sinning. This week the Lord Almighty aimed his Holy Wrath at Louisiana, where among the thousands of people made homeless by flooding is hate group leader Tony Perkins, who reports that he had to escape his destroyed home by canoe.

Perkins is on vacation this month, but today he called into his own radio show to lament the “biblical proportion” disaster that will allegedly force his family to live in a camper for the six months it will take to rebuild his home.

So, can we assume that Perkins will get the message?


Maybe they can find a nice double-wide for rent nearby.

The photo was posted to Facebook by Perkins. Via New Civil Rights Movement. There's also this little tidbit:

Perkins, who was on vacation when the flood hit, is currently serving as interim pastor at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. He said the flood damaged the church and has affected 80 percent of its members.

There's a lesson there.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Today In Pathetic Losers

Take your pick:

House Republicans:

A pair of leading House Republicans on Monday laid out detailed instructions for the Justice Department to file perjury charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. More than a month after first requesting the department open a criminal probe into Clinton for alleged misstatements she made under oath, the GOP heads of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees told a federal prosecutor specifically where they believed Clinton had lied to Congress about her email setup at the Department of State.

Somebody is really terrified about the election.

Pat McCrory:

Gov. Pat McCrory wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law for the November election. The law, which requires voters to bring a photo ID to the polls, was thrown out by a federal appeals court ruling. Late Monday, McCrory announced that he has sent a formal request to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to stay the ruling while state leaders appeal the decision.

Somebody is really terrified about the election.

Rudy Giuliani:

Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the US. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.

Somebody is really terrified about the election. Plus, he's after Katrina Pierson's job.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's "What's New" Day at GMR

Again. And mostly graphic lit (again), with one Glen Cook review.

It's all here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Science: Earth: A Biography: Eukaryotes, or How I Developed a Nucleus and Changed the World

We still in the Precambian era, but we've progressed to about three billion years ago, the earth's tectonic plates have formed and have started moving around, cyanobacteria have started releasing oxygen, which is going to take a while to have an effect on the types of life found on earth (like about a billion years), but it will, and we have archea, bacteria, and eukaryotes.

There's a fair amount of controversy about the relationships between these three groups. The article on the Archea at Wikipedia is fairly detailed and quite informative (and heavily referenced, so I'm taking it as fairly accurate -- it's not like it's the entry on Donald Trump or something), and has this to say about the relationships among the archea, bacteria, and eukaryotes:

The evolutionary relationship between archaea and eukaryotes remains unclear. Aside from the similarities in cell structure and function that are discussed below, many genetic trees group the two.

Complicating factors include claims that the relationship between eukaryotes and the archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota is closer than the relationship between the Euryarchaeota and the phylum Crenarchaeota[69] and the presence of archaea-like genes in certain bacteria, such as Thermotoga maritima, from horizontal gene transfer. The standard hypothesis states that the ancestor of the eukaryotes diverged early from the Archaea, and that eukaryotes arose through fusion of an archaean and eubacterium, which became the nucleus and cytoplasm; this explains various genetic similarities but runs into difficulties explaining cell structure.[73] An alternative hypothesis, the eocyte hypothesis, posits that Eukaryota emerged relatively late from the Archaea.

A recently discovered lineage of archaea, Lokiarchaeum, named for a hydrothermal vent called Loki's Castle in the Arctic Ocean, has been found to be most closely related to eukaryotes. It has been called a transitional organism between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
(Citations removed.)

Phylogenetic tree showing the relationship between the Archaea and other domains of life. Eukaryotes are colored red, archaea green and bacteria blue. Adapted from Ciccarelli et al. (2006)

Now, this all comes with a big "but" -- whatever the eukaryotes developed from, we still don't know how it happened. Given that we're dealing with single-celled organisms, fossil remains are unlikely. Remember, the evidence that we do have for early life forms isn't comprised of actual fossils of the organisms themselves, but of "tracers" that they left behind -- graphite in zircons and fossilized stromatolites. So we can't point to a fossil of something and say "See? That's the missing link between the archea and the eukarya." So we have to infer a lot.

This article is a little dense in places, but gives a good idea of some of the important differences between prokaryotes (archea and bacteria) and eukaryotes:
There is a sharp divide in the organizational complexity of the cell between eukaryotes, which have complex intracellular compartmentalization, and even the most sophisticated prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria), which do not. A typical eukaryotic cell is about 1,000-fold bigger by volume than a typical bacterium or archaeon, and functions under different physical principles: free diffusion has little role in eukaryotic cells, but is crucial in prokaryotes. The compartmentalization of eukaryotic cells is supported by an elaborate endomembrane system and by the actin-tubulin-based cytoskeleton. There are no direct counterparts of these organelles in archaea or bacteria. The other hallmark of the eukaryotic cell is the presence of mitochondria, which have a central role in energy transformation and perform many additional roles in eukaryotic cells, such as in signaling and cell death.

The conservation of the major features of cellular organization and the existence of a large set of genes that are conserved across eukaryotes leave no doubt that all extant eukaryotic forms evolved from a last eukaryote common ancestor (LECA; see below). All eukaryotes that have been studied in sufficient detail possess either mitochondria or organelles derived from mitochondria, so it is thought that LECA already possessed mitochondria (see below). Plants and many unicellular eukaryotes also have another type of organelle, plastids.
(Citations removed.)

So you can see that we're dealing with a quantum leap in complexity and functionality. And note also that mitochodria, which play such an essential role in cell metabolism, also, according to some theories, represent what we can only describe as a symbiotic relationship:

The endosymbiotic hypothesis for the origin of mitochondria (and chloroplasts) suggests that mitochondria are descended from specialized bacteria (probably purple nonsulfur bacteria) that somehow survived endocytosis by another species of prokaryote or some other cell type, and became incorporated into the cytoplasm. The ability of symbiont bacteria to conduct cellular respiration in host cells that relied on glycosis and fermentation would have provided a considerable evolutionary advantage. Similarly, host cells with symbiont bacteria capable of photosynthesis would also have an advantage. In both cases, the number of environments in which the cells could survive would have been greatly expanded.

Here's a nice comparison of your basic, generic prokaryotic cell and your basic, generic eukaryotic cell:

You can see that eukaryotes, even the single-celled variety, are much more complex than their forebears. They also, in evolutionary terms, have a huge advantage, being able to adapt to a greater range of environments. Granted, there aren't nearly as many environments on Earth as there will be later, but eukaryotes were able to adapt to more of them -- a trait that will continue.

We're going to take a leap in time for next time because for the next couple billion years, not much was happening. Except sex. Brace yourself.

On That "Reporter" From the Daily Beast

The one who thought it was cute to see who was hooking up on Grindr. (He's straight, of course. He's also a dipshit.)

Matt Baume has a few things to say about it, and he's much nicer than I can be:

Daily Beast has pulled the article, but the damage is done. I can't for the life of me imagine why they thought it was fit to publish to begin with.

Well, that's the state of "journalism" these days.

Friday, August 12, 2016

OK, I Admit It

I am completely burned out on Donald Trump. And I'm completely fed up with the massive press coverage of every stupid thing he says. My own take is that the press is so completely focused on Trump because they created him. I mean, come on: he was a flamboyant real estate developer from New York who used to show up in the gossip columns, when he showed up at all. Now suddenly he's the Republican nominee for President -- because he knows how to work the press. That's the only reason: he has no more in the way of policy proposals than the rest of the clown car, and mostly hasn't even bothered to pretend that he does. Mistermix at Balloon Juice has an interesting observation on the effect of this incestuous relationship:

I’m guessing you all would agree that if the Republican nominee was a little more presentable numbskull, we’d be treated to weekly nontroversies centered around some Clinton email, some minor DNC staffing move, or something Bill said. That’s not happening this year because Trump is feeding information into the election communication system with a goddam firehose. He occupies the entire bandwidth of that system, and then some. And, like any well-engineered communication system, this one is scaling to handle the load by ignoring the fainter signals (namely, everything about the Clinton campaign.) He’s even drowning out the Olympics.

It's all Trump, all the time -- which I think probably suits Trump just fine, thank you.

And about those "Second Amendment people" remarks: Somebody brought up this article from Rolling Stone in the comments somewhere, I think Joe.My.God., and it's very instructive:

But it's really irrelevant what Trump actually meant, because enough people will hear Trump's comments and think he's calling for people to take up arms against Clinton, her judges or both. Though most of the people hearing that call may claim he was joking, given what we know about people taking up arms in this country, there will undoubtedly be some people who think he was serious and consider the possibility.

In other words, what Trump just did is engage in so-called stochastic terrorism. This is an obscure and non-legal term that has been occasionally discussed in the academic world for the past decade and a half, and it applies with precision here. Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication "to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."

Remember Sarah Palin's map with targets over selected congressional districts? And Gabby Giffords got shot; she, fortunately, survived -- others around her did not. Think about that. Think about Tony Perkins' whole career, and the windrows of dead queer kids that have resulted. (I think Dan Savage was way too easy on Perkins.) Think about the teabaggers, the Bundys, and mass murderers who shoot up schoolrooms.

They've all been given permission by people like Donald Trump.

There. I've gotten that off my chest. Now I'm going to pray for rain to cool things down a bit -- it's been brutal here the past few days.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Digby on Trump's "Rigged" Election

Probably the best analysis of the whole "rigged election" bullshit that the Proven Loser is throwing around, with some good background:

Back in the early 1980s Republicans convinced themselves that the Reagan Revolution had ushered in a thousand year reign. It was unimaginable that any Democrat could possibly be president now that the glory of Ronald had been bestowed upon America.  So when Bill Clinton won in 1992 they simply refused to believe it. Republican leader Dick Armey openly declared that Clinton was not his President. In his 2003 book "The Natural" Joe Klein wrote:

From the beginning of his presidency, there was indeed the sense – radiating from the Gingrich wing of the Republican Party . . . that the new President was a usurper who had managed to hoodwink the American public.  He was to be opposed at every turn, by any means necessary, and, if possible, destroyed.

She goes on from there. Read it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

It's Been Hot

Just because.

Today in Disgusting People

Florida's has-been-but-doesn't-know-it-yet do-nothing Senator (who at one point considered the Senate beneath him, until he got trumped in the primaries):

Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right to an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly.

"I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one," Rubio told POLITICO.

"But if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life."

"Life" in this case meaning the ability to breath, even if you need help with that.

"Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, it’s a lifetime of difficulties," he said. "So I get it. I’m not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me. But I’m prolife. And I’m strongly prolife. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life."

What did I just say?

One question I'd like to ask the Senator: How many microcephalic babies are you willing to take care of?

Headline du Jour

From Crooks and Liars:

Darrell Issa To Open Hearings On Why He Might Lose Election

That says it all.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Today's Must-Read: "Trade Deals"

From Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo. The meat:

Something I read somewhere the other day highlighted that in a way that stuck with me. Essentially, these are deals written solely from the perspective of corporations. They are treaties of, by, and for corporations. The needs, concerns, and fate of the average citizen in the global economy are not even an afterthought. Politicians and business magnates sell the deals to voters simmering like frogs in increasingly weakened democracies as a kind of transnational trickle-down. In the long run, this deal will be great for you. Trust us. "You're gonna love it. Believe me."

He's got back-up, too. Basically, corporations and their henchmen are sitting at the negotiating table writing these treaties, with the acquiescence, if not active agreement, of our so-called representatives. One of the key factors is that they give the corporations the right to sue countries through a special court:

In one critique of the TPP, Johnson wrote:
Corporations get a special channel of their own for enforcement of rules written by their representatives at the negotiating table. Labor, environment and other stakeholders don’t get that in TPP. This is how TPP will increase corporate power over governments and working people.

In effect, these "trade deals" subordinate nations to corporations.

I might note that it is not only Republicans pushing for this. The Obama administration has been leading the charge.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Yes, I Know

I didn't post for two days. Busy coming down with a really nasty intestinal bug and then sleeping off the effects once it was gone.

That, and I'm really, really sick of Donald Trump.

What's New at Green Man Review

All Graphic Literature this week, specifically, the rest of Matt Wagner's Grendel series.

Go for it.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

About That "Rigged" Election We're Going to Have

I wrote a bit on this the other day and did do a follow-up, but I think this could become a serious enough problem that it needs to be kept front and center. I don't think Trump consciously wants to take down the system, but he's so far stuffed up his own butt that he doesn't seem to comprehend that there are consequences to everything (a common failing on the right, as well as the extreme left).

At any rate, Digby brings us some much-needed perspective, relevant not only to this but to the concerted effort by Republican-controlled state legislatures to restrict access to voting over the past several years:

Her comment is worth noting:

From what I gather on cable news and social media it's considered a matter of fact among some number of people that the primaries were rigged and the general election will also be rigged. In other words, many people have become convinced that they cannot legitimately lose an election.
(Emphasis in original.)

We're dealing with a mindset that we've seen in any number of contexts over the past few decades, starting with the Moral Majority: they have Truth™ on their side, so any setback is due to a conspiracy among their enemies. Or the Devil. Same difference.

She also provides a link to this analysis of voter fraud -- from the real world.

And tristero has some sobering information on just how the election could be manipulated -- and it's not from people voting ten times.

Even Homeland Security is concerned.

Worst-Case Scenario

Trump on foreign policy. The man has no clue. Via TPM:

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough reported on the air Wednesday morning that when Donald Trump met for a briefing with an unnamed foreign policy expert, the GOP nominee allegedly asked, “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” several times.

Scarborough made the claim during an interview with retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who expressed concern about how Trump would be an “erratic” and “inconsistent” commander-in-chief.

When Hayden curtly said he’s not aware a single one of his colleagues advising Trump on foreign policy, Scarborough spoke up.

“I have to follow up with that, but I’ll be very careful here. Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked, at one point, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Scarborough said.
(Video at link.)

What? Does Trump think no one's going to shoot back? We're not the only ones with nuclear weapons, and it's generally recognized that nuclear war is not something anyone wants to get involved in. Just try tossing a couple of nukes into the Middle East and see what happens.

And if you think things like this don't get heard overseas, see this post from Digby:

I've been writing for a while that if Trump wins, the morning after the election we will wake up to a world that is far more unstable than it's been in over half a century. The system we have, for better or worse, will no longer be operative and what replaces it will be an unknown and frightening. And the man in charge of changing it is a cretinous demagogue. In fact, it's already happening:

Phillip Lohaus, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says that in his personal experience, as he has traveled abroad over the last year, "every conversation begins and ends with Trump."

"A lot of these people don't understand why a candidate would seek to change an international system that was designed by America and benefits America," Lohaus said. "They don't understand why we would undermine that when it is in our interest to keep things together."

The idiot is not only giving people here with two brain cells to rub together the heebie-jeebies, he's scaring the hell out of our allies. Vladimir Putin (who, according to Trump, will not invade the Ukraine -- mostly, I guess because he doesn't have to: that's a done deal) is licking his chops.

There was a thing that I ran across when I was studying European diplomatic history, way back when, called the Pax Britannica. Essentially, the British Navy was, for the period after the Napoleonic Wars and up to World War I, the pre-eminent military force in the world. So, while there were conflicts, they remained localized because no one wanted to deal with Her Majesty's Navy. Theodore Roosevelt sort of encapsulated the concept in his famous dictum, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Since the end of World War II, we've been the ones with the big stick, and, except for some boneheaded decisions by our leaders (Vietnam and Iraq spring immediately to mind), have managed to avoid major conflicts.

The point is, You don't use the stick. You don't ever use the stick. We spent decades negotiating with the USSR and others to put the biggest stick on ice. Everyone was well aware of the consequences of nuclear war after seeing what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

And Trump doesn't understand why we can't use them if we have them? We already know that he's completely lacking any connection to the world outside his head, but this is beyond belief. Given Digby's post, even if Trump is not elected, we've got a lot of patching to do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Culture Break: Sharon Isbin Plays "Andecy"

I first ran across this piece on one of Sharon Isbin's albums (Journey to the New World, which features, among other things, Joan Baez in an amazing performance). As near as I can make out, the piece was actually composed by Andrew York.

Birds of a Feather

I've finally figured it out: Katrina Pierson is just as disconnected from reality as her boss is:

Specifically, Pierson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that Capt. Humayun Khan “probably” died because Obama and Clinton crippled our military’s ability to fight by changing the rules of engagement.

“But surely you can understand the confusion, considering how Donald Trump never voted for the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton did,” Pierson said. “Then she didn’t support the troops to have what they need. It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagements that probably cost his life! So I don’t understand why it’s so hard to understand why Donald Trump was confused.”

There is a very obvious problem with this, of course: Khan was killed by a car bomb all the way back in 2004. During that time, Clinton was a senator for New York and Obama wasn’t even a senator yet.

The reaction has been swift and merciless:

Obama decided that too many lifeboats would offend radical Islamic terrorists abord the Titanic.

That's just the beginning. Click through -- it gets very rich and strange.

Today's Must-Read: "The Election's Gonna Be Rigged"

I've been thinking that Trump is pushing this one because he's sure he's going to lose, but I maybe haven't taken it far enough:

Josh Marshall (correctly, in my opinion) surmises that Trump the narcissistic con man is setting the table for a claim that the election was stolen from him:

It may not seem terribly important right now with all the stories roiling the campaign. But I think there's a good chance it's the most important. Over the last 48 hours Trump's allies, surrogates and now Trump himself have forcibly injected the topic of voter fraud or 'election rigging' into the election. Longtime TPM Readers know this topic has probably been the publication's single greatest and most consistent focus over fifteen years. The subject has been investigated countless times. And it is clear that voter fraud and especially voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare - rare almost to the point of non-existence, though there have been a handful of isolated cases.

Via Digby, whose own comment is germane:

But the big problem is that we seem to be in a period of inane conspiracy theorizing and paranoia in the system at large, with anyone who disagrees being assumed to be corrupt or dishonest and the assumption being that the entire system is "rigged." It's not a partisan problem. It's a logic problem and it's getting worse with social media.

As Marshall points out in his piece, this could lead to something very dangerous in terms of Trump since many of his followers are already gun-toting extremists with a very thin grasp of democratic norms. It could be ugly.

I can see this getting to the point where the whole system just implodes -- and I don't mean our system of elections, but our whole system. Start with neo-fascist Trump and his supporters, add in the "sovereign citizens" a la the Bundys and their pocket constitutions that they don't read and don't understand, the "religious" right aiming for a theocracy, and you have a pretty poisonous mixture.


Via Hullabaloo.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Another Demagogue -- with an M.D.

Just what we needed:

Tech site Gizmodo, which notes, "wi-fi has not been shown to harm humans in any way," on Monday posted this transcript:

Person from crowd: My school district is rapidly moving towards one-to-one computers. Can you speak to the health issues? [inaudible with clapping]

Jill Stein: Wonderful, health issues... social issues... you name it. But to be staring at screens... we already know that kids who get put in front of TVs instead of interacting, this is not good in all kinds of ways. And it’s just not good for their cognitive, it’s not good for their social development, I mean, that is incredible that kids in kindergarten... We should be moving away from screens at all levels of education, not moving into them. 

And this is another corporate ruse. This is another gimmick to try to make a buck. To make big bucks in fact. And education, and teachers, and communities suffer. So we need to stand up to that.

Person from crowd: What about the wireless?

Jill Stein: We should not be subjecting kids’ brains especially to that. And we don’t follow that issue in this country, but in Europe where they do, they have good precautions around wireless—maybe not good enough, because it’s very hard to study this stuff. We make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die. And this is like the paradigm for how public health works in this country and it’s outrageous, you know.

OK -- we do know that it's not good for kids' social development to park them in front of the TV. To go from there to "it's harmful to their brains to expose them to WiFi" is quite a leap.

The answer is not to get rid of computers (as if that were possible at this point). The answer is, Talk to your kids. Interact. Send them out to play with their friends.

It's hard to know whether this woman is an idiot or just pandering in the hope of -- what? She's sure not a viable candidate for President. (And all you pouting Sanders supporters, are you listening? This is better than Hillary Clinton?)

Stop Me If You've Heard This One

The election's going to be rigged:

Donald Trump on Monday night repeated his earlier assertion that the 2016 general election will be “rigged” against him.

As the Republican presidential nominee slipped in the first polls to be released after the Democratic National Convention, he took to questioning the integrity of the nation’s election system, first at an afternoon rally in Ohio and then during an interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel.

“I’m telling you, Nov. 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” Mr. Trump said in the Fox News interview. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump warned supporters in Columbus, Ohio, that the deck may already be stacked against him for November.

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” Mr. Trump said then.

In Trump's world, everything's rigged.

My first reaction is that he's sure Clinton will mop the floor with him and he's setting up the "I wuz robbed!" scenario. And of course, it's none other than Roger Stone pushing this for all it's worth.

What it boils down to is that the GOP are not going to be able to rig the elections because their voter suppression laws are being slapped down by the courts.

Via Joe.My.God.

Round Four

The anti-Khan campaign is ramping up, and it appears to be a concerted effort, if not coordinated by the Trump campaign. (But then, what has been coordinated by the Trump campaign? Anything?) Renowned dirtbag Roger Stone has jumped into the fray, relying on the Shoebats, who are disgusting but at least have the excuse that they're insane. Here's a good summary of the whole thing to date from Amanda Terkel at HuffPo:

Khizr Khan delivered one of the most moving speeches at the Democratic National Convention, captivating viewers with his story about losing his son, a U.S. service member who died in the Iraq War saving his fellow soldiers.

Khan, who is Muslim American, said that if it were up to Donald Trump, he and his family wouldn’t even be allowed in the country.

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America,” Khan said. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

And now, despite his family’s sacrifice to the country, Khan is facing accusations that so many other high-profile Muslim Americans face: that he is unpatriotic and a terrorist.

As far as I can tell, the Khans are a hell of a lot more patriotic than anyone who's criticizing them.

This had to happen eventually: Trump, being completely unable to deal with any sort of criticism without lashing out, finally managed, I think, to crystallize his bigotry and bombast into one easily perceived shot to the foot. Lots of people took swings at him during the Democratic convention, but this one went viral because the right-wing nutjobs jumped on it, taking their cue from The Hairpiece himself.

And let's face it, when you've lost the congressional leadership, you're not doing to well. Yes, McConnell and Ryan are doing a fast dance to try to distance themselves from Trump while continuing to support his candidacy, but what choice do they have? They have to support their candidate, but if they tie themselves to0 closely to him, their own political futures are in jeopardy. They, at least, are in enough contact with reality to realize that attacking the parents of a war hero is just not going to fly.


John Aravosis has a somewhat lengthy (and a little dry) post on how this sort of thing becomes viral that's worth reading just to understand the whole process that's going on here.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Point, Counter-point: Khan vs. Trump, Round Three

I was thinking of doing a post on what has turned out to be a huge blow-up after Khizr Khan's speech at the DNC and The Hairpiece's response, but there is just too much, so I'm giving you what's pretty much a link dump.

The Khans are not backing down. Here's a short video of Khizr Khan (which I'm not able to embed), responding to this:

"If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say," Trump said, adding that "maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama [Did you doubt it?]) has decided to get into the act:

Senator Jeff Sessions was the chosen voice to appear on CNN's State of the Union for some damage control after Donald Trump hammered Gold Star parents Khzir and Ghazala Khan twice yesterday.

When asked about Khizr Khan's condemnation of Trump as a "man with a black heart," Sessions emphatically said, "I reject that and I'm disappointed that he said that."

Sessions then went on to justify Trump's hateful attitude with more spin about how Trump "praised" Khan. Actually, he didn't praise him at all. This is what Trump said, and what Khan reacted to.
(Click through for the quotes.)

Brian Stelter at CNN actually committed journalism on TV. Video and transcript at the link, and watch Trump's spokesman dodges and weaves and keeps trying to change the subject. (Which itself is a favorite ploy of the right.)

And just in case you missed the dog whistle that Miller was blowing on, long-time Trump buddy Roger Stone makes it plain:

Screen capture of Roger Stone tweet July 7, 2016.

And it really looks like Trump has finally done it: he's getting shit from major Republicans, including John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and even Wunderkind Paul Ryan.

You can imagine what the left is saying.

That's enough on this for now. All I can say is that I hope this story follows Trump around for the rest of his campaign.