October 4, 2015

Poland becomes 14th European country to ban GMOs

Nation of Change - Poland is the latest country, in a series of European countries, to reject all genetically modified organisms in their food production. Let’s hope other countries, including the U.S., follow in these footsteps and rid themselves of GMOs.

.... Poland joins the ranks of Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Scotland, Wales, Lithuania, Austria, Ireland, France, and Greece.

Secret Service doesn't like working with HRC

NY Post

Patrick Kennedy describes his family as dysfunctional

Boston Globe - In a new book that is strikingly raw and emotional, Patrick Kennedy paints a detailed portrait of the complex and fraught relationship he had with his father, Edward M. Kennedy, as well as some of the intense pressures of living in one of America’s most storied political families.

Kennedy ... provides an intimate picture of a dysfunctional family and some of its well-publicized struggles with alcoholism and mental health issues — and what he describes as a blanket of secrecy that papered over their problems.

Kennedy says he believes his father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after living through the assassinations of both of his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy.

His brother, Ted Kennedy Jr., released a statement early Sunday.

“I am proud of my brother Patrick for his tremendous work to make mental health parity part of our national conversation,” he wrote. “However, I am heartbroken that Patrick has chosen to write what is an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of our family. ... Mental illness and addiction are critically important issues that deserve a serious discussion, not a narrative that is misleading and hurtful.”

Patrick Kennedy, a former eight-term Democratic representative from Rhode Island, retired in 2010 and has since married and had two children. He says he has bipolar disorder and has dedicated his life to becoming an advocate for fighting, and speaking out about, mental health issues. He decided to write the book, with coauthor Stephen Fried, to highlight his personal journey.


Philly still working after pot decriminalization

PHILLY.COM -  On October 1, 2014 Mayor Nutter signed a bill to make marijuana possession a civil, non-criminal offense. Philadelphia became the largest city in America to make the shift on its own. 

The new policy of issuing citations of $25 for possession and $100 for smoking in public went into effect on October 20.

One year later the impact of decrim has been positive and far reaching. More than 300 cannabis consumers used to be hauled into jail every month. But now all of the friends of Mary Jane can breathe a little easier. So can the city's Public Safety Budget. 

There were 2,408 fewer adults and juveniles put into handcuffs and holding cells for having less than 30 grams of weed. This has has saved the city an estimated $2 million.

Mayor of Stockton, CA detained by DHS at SFO, forced to give up laptop password


Very few House Republicans face serious challenge

Ballot Access News

Tge GOP vs. the rest of us: Religion

Gren Whitman - Texas State Board of Education voted along party lines 10-5 to approve textbooks claiming that the Founding Fathers based the Constitution on the Bible, and the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses.

57% Of GOPers Support Making Christianity The National Religion

Department of Good Stuff: Peace and war


I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose. - Steven Wright

October 3, 2015

British young prefer smartphones to novels (which one in ten haven't read)

Daily Mail, UK - Young adults are more likely to read their smartphone screen than a book while on the beach, a study has found.

Only one in four plan on reading a book on holiday, compared to 75 per cent who will keep their phone constantly at their side.

One in ten of the 18 to 25-year-olds surveyed said they had never even read a novel, with a quarter saying books ‘take too long to read’.

Of those who do plan on reading a book this summer, 25 per cent admit they will struggle to finish it – with more than 70 per cent of participants saying they prefer short-form writing and that technology has given us shorter attention spans, according to the Samsung survey.

What it's like to give a standardized test to kindergartners

Phyliss Doerr is an experienced kindergarten teacher in Néw Jersey. This appeared in Diane Ravitch's Blog

Phyliss Doerr - As a kindergarten teacher, I find the trend to bring more testing into kindergarten not only alarming, but counter-productive and even harmful...

In order to paint a realistic picture of the stress, damaging effects and colossal waste of time caused by testing in kindergarten, allow me to bring you to my classroom for our first test prep session in late September for 5-year-old children.

The test for which I was preparing my students was vocabulary. I say a word that we had learned in our “nursery rhyme” unit. Then, I read a sentence containing that word. If the sentence made sense, using the word correctly, the student would circle the smiley face. If the word were used incorrectly, they would circle the frown. This task requires abstract thinking, a skill that kindergartners have not yet developed — a foundational problem for this type of test.

My first sample vocabulary challenge as we began our practice test was the word “market,” from the nursery rhyme “To Market, To Market.” After explaining the setup of the test, I begin. “The word is market,” I announced. “Who can tell me what a market is?” One boy answered, “I like oranges.” “Okay, Luke is on the right track. Who can add to that?” “I like apples. I get them at the store.” We’re moving in, closer and closer. A third child says, “It’s where you go and get lots of things.” Yes! What kinds of things? “Different stuff.” Another student chimes in: “We can get oranges and apples and lots of other types of food at the market.” “Excellent! Everyone understands market?” A few nod.

“Now, I will give you a sentence with the word ‘market’ in it. If the sentence makes sense, you will circle the smiley face, but if it is a silly sentence and doesn’t make sense, you circle the frown.” A hand goes up. “Mrs. Doerr, what’s a frown?” I explain what a frown is.

Next, I read the sentence: “‘I like to play basketball at the market.’ Now, does that sentence make sense?”

The students who are not twisting around backward in their chairs or staring at a thread they’ve picked off their uniforms nod their heads. “Please, class, listen carefully. I’ll tell you the sentence again: ‘I like to play basketball at the market.’ That makes sense? Remember we said a market is where we shop for food.”

A hand goes up. Terrell says, “I like soccer.” “Okay, Terrell, that’s great! But did I use the word ‘market’ correctly in that sentence?” “I don’t know.”

Another hand. “Yes? Ariana? What do you think?” “My dad took me to a soccer game! He plays soccer!” “Thank you for sharing that, Ariana.” The students picked up on something from the sentence and made what seems to be, but is not, a random connection. “Girls and boys, look at me and listen. I want you to really think about this. Would you go to a market and play basketball?” At this point everyone seemed to wake up. Finally! I was getting somewhere! “YES!” they cried out in unison.

Of course! It would be a total blast to play basketball in the market!

So here we find another huge problem with this vocabulary test: a 5-year-old’s imagination. A statement that uses a word incorrectly sounds OK to a child whose imagination is not limited by reality. It is the same reason Santa and the Tooth Fairy are so real to kindergartners — unencumbered imagination.

After explaining why we might not play basketball in the market, I called on a volunteer to come up and circle the frowning face. She went straight to number 3 on my giant test replica, skipping 1 and 2, and circled the frown. Why? She’s 5 and has never seen anything like this. Give the same student a floor puzzle of ocean life and she and her friend will knock it out in 10 minutes, strategizing, problem-solving and taking turns with intense concentration.

The rest of my “test prep” for the 5-year-olds went about the same.

Then came the real thing. As testing must be done in small groups since the children cannot read instructions and need assistance every step of way, I split the class into two or more groups to test....

During testing, I walked around to see that a few students had nothing written on their papers, one had circled every face — regardless of expression — on the whole page, another just circled all the smileys and one, a very bright little girl, had her head down on her arms. I tapped her and said, “Come on, you need to circle one of the faces for number 5.” She lifted her head and looked up at me. Tears streamed down her face. I crouched down next to her. “What’s wrong, honey?” “Mrs. Doerr, I’m tired,” she cried. “I want my mommy.” It was a moment I will never forget. I took her test and said, “Would you like a nice comfy pillow so you can take a rest?” She nodded. I exchanged her paper for a pillow.

So this is kindergarten.

We force children to take tests that their brains cannot grasp.

We ignore research that proves that children who are 5-6 learn best experientially.

We rob them of precious free play that teaches them how to be good citizens, good friends and good thinkers.

We waste precious teaching and learning time that could be spent experientially learning the foundations of math, reading and writing, as well as valuable lessons in social studies, science and health.

I support and enjoy teaching much of our math and language arts curriculum. Teaching vocabulary is a valuable practice. However, I contend that testing in these areas at this age is not only meaningless, since it does not accurately measure a child’s academic ability, but it is actually counter-productive and even damaging.

Further, I contend that my students are no further along at the end of the year than they would be if we eliminated most of the testing. In fact, they might be further along if we eliminated testing because of the time we could spend engaging in meaningful teaching and learning. Finally, I believe that a child’s first experience with formal education should be fun and exciting, and give them confidence to look forward to their education, not full of stress and fear because they did not measure up.

Parents and educators must speak out against harmful trends in education so that they can be reversed immediately

Small business a victim of hypergentrification

Governing - In New York City, and especially in Manhattan, 2015 may be remembered as the year the neighborhood store suffered a mass extinction.

Small retail businesses have been closing their doors in New York this year at a rate that longtime students of the city’s commercial life say has no precedent in their memory. At the beginning of the year, in a much publicized departure, Café Edison, a Times Square institution, gave up after 34 years at the same spot. Since then, every few days has seemed to bring news of another small business closing -- a shoe store, a diner or a hole-in-the-wall cheese shop. Multiply those closings by a few hundred, and you’ll have an idea of what is happening these days on the New York commercial front.

It seems curious, at first glance, that a majority of the retail extinctions seem to be taking place in fashionable or increasingly popular parts of the city, such as Tribeca and the East Village in Lower Manhattan, and Williamsburg and Park Slope in Brooklyn. It seems curious, but it’s merely ironic. The attractiveness of New York’s gentrified neighborhoods has lifted commercial rents to the point where many small-scale tenants -- even those operating at a profit -- can no longer afford to pay them. Prosperous residents who were drawn to these neighborhoods in part because of the quaint mom-and-pop stores are finding that their own presence helps drive the stores away. In recent months, says Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, “the mom-and-pop crisis has intensified with a fury.”

Morning Line

In our moving average of recent polls, Trump is at 24, leading Carson by 4 points. Rubio is in third place with 12, followed by Fiorona with 10.Bush with 8 and Cruz with 6

Clinton has 22 point lead over Sanders. Biden is 23 points behind

TPP already thumbing nose at American law

Popular Resistance - Drafts of the “vast, sweeping” trade agreement that the United States is secretly negotiating with 11 other world powers are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed trade agreement between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Rim setting international standards over labor, the environment, agriculture, medicine, labor, the Internet, human rights, intellectual property rights and many other issues.

Though first announced to Congress in 2009, a confidentiality agreement that the participating countries reached protects their proposals from public disclosure until there is a final agreement. Most information about the deal has come to light through leaks to the press. WikiLeaks, which has already disclosed multiple chapters, offered a $100,000 bounty this past summer for the full text of the draft chapters.

Thee GOP vs. the rest of us: Public lands

Republicans on public lands

Think Progress - Angered by the Obama administration’s work to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said that administration “is willing to negotiate with Iran, but they won’t negotiate with Alaska.” 
... According to the Salt Lake Tribune: Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said he was told by a terrorism expert that forests are now a terrorist target and argued that the fire risk would be reduced if they were managed by the states instead of the federal government.... Rep. Don Young (R-AK)... “mocked” 78 members of Congress who asked the Secretary of the Interior to protect gray wolves. Young — who has long fought protections for land and wildlife — claimed that their districts would benefit from releasing wolves in urban areas because “you wouldn’t have a homeless problem anymore.”

American Eagle stops photoshopping models and sales rise


Race to the bottom: Policies

  • Mid East policies
  • NSA spying
  • Common Core
  • Corporate personhood
  • War on drugs
  • Austerity budgeting
  • Anti-eco policies
  • Zero tolerance
  • Keystone XL
  • Broken window policing
  • Electoral system
  • Militarization of police


WORLD CLASS - A phrase used by provincial cities and second-rate entertainment and sports events, as well as a wide variety of insecure individuals, to assert that they are not provincial or second-rate, thereby confirming that they are. - John Ralston Saul

Study: Pot doesn't impair driving

Alternet - The first study to analyze the effects of cannabis on driving performance found that it caused almost no impairment. The impairment that it did cause was similar to that observed under the influence of a legal alcohol limit.

October 2, 2015

A farewell Arne Duncan story

Onion —Expressing their desire to provide American students with a well-rounded education, officials from the Department of Education announced they had hired 26-year-old art teacher Kelsey Alexander to be spread evenly across all U.S. public schools. “Ms. Alexander is a well-qualified teacher, and we have the utmost confidence that she will provide quality art instruction to our nation’s students as she rotates through each of the 98,000 public schools in this country,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who explained that Alexander will teach a 40-minute studio art course to each of the grade levels at a different school each day, beginning with Colby High School in Denver on Wednesday, until she eventually visits every school in the nation, at which point she will cycle back to the beginning and start again. “An education in the visual arts is a vital part of every child’s education, and with Ms. Alexander’s hiring, we can now guarantee that each student in America will have an art class at some point during their K-through-12 years. We know she will make a wonderful addition to every single school district in the country.” As of press time, Alexander had spent an estimated $3.2 million out of pocket on the art supplies needed for her lessons.

Pope met intentionally with gay couple

Salon - Pope Francis met with a gay couple the day before he met with same-sex marriage opponent Kim Davis, CNN’s Daniel Burke reports.

Yayo Grassi and his partner, Iwan — old friends of the pope from Argentina — visited the pontiff and were greeted with warm hugs. In an interview with CNN, Grassi said that “three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug.”

Unlike the publicity stunt manufactured by Kim Davis, her lawyers, and elements within the church hostile to Francis’ agenda, this meeting was both deliberate and purposive.

Referring to the Vatican’s statement about Davis, in which Reverend Federico Lombardi said that “the only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family,” Grassi said “that was me.” Pope Francis taught him at Inmaculada Concepcion high school in Flores, Argentina, from 1964-1965.


How I made $1000 a week delivering weed and why I quit the business

College student resilience declining

Peter Gray, Psychology Today

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.

Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices. Many students, they said, now view a C, or sometimes even a B, as failure, and they interpret such “failure” as the end of the world.

Vatican distances the Pope from Davis

NY Times - Pope Francis’ encounter with Kim Davis last week in Washington, which was interpreted by many as a subtle intervention in the United States’ same-sex marriage debate, was part of a series of meetings with doze on Fridays of guests and did not amount to an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said.

Ms. Davis — the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who defied a judge’s order and refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples — was among the guests ushered into the Vatican’s embassy for a brief meeting with him, the Vatican said.

“The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a statement released on Friday morning. Continue reading the main story Related Coverage

Father Lombardi, in his statement, played down the meeting and said it had been arranged by the Nunciature — the Vatican Embassy — in Washington.  “Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City,” Father Lombardi said.

He added: “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”


Andy Borowitz - By meeting both Congress and Kim Davis, the Pope showed compassion for people who refuse to do their jobs.

Efficacy of spent blewit on pythium damping-off

Improbable Research - “What,” you may be asked, “is the efficacy of spent blewit mushroom compost and Bacillus aryabhattai combination on control of Pythium damping-off in cucumber?” If pressed for time, you can simply direct the curious person to this study:
Efficacy of spent blewit mushroom compost and Bacillus aryabhattai combination on control of Pythium damping-off in cucumber,” J. T. Chen, M.J. Lin, and J.W. Huang, The Journal of Agricultural Science, vol. 153, no. 07, September 2015, pp. 1257-1266.

Recycling good for the environment, lousy for recycling workers

Nation - The industries that pride themselves on being friends of the earth are often hostile to workers, according to new research on the safety conditions in recycling plants. Published by the Massachusetts Council for Occupational Safety and Health, National COSH, and other advocacy groups, the analysis of the industry shows that, despite the green sector’s clean, progressive image, workers remain imperiled by old-school industrial hazards. Workers face intense stress, dangerous machinery, and inadequate safeguards, while toiling in strenuous positions amid constant toxic exposures.

Often the sorting of recyclables requires directly handling hazardous materials and improperly disposed waste, such as plastic bags that accumulate and cause potentially deadly clogs in machines. Some cities allow dumping of “mixed” trash, leaving workers to separate metal cans from organic waste, or battery fluid from old meatloaf (cities could prevent such dangers through the slight inconvenience of simply requiring people to separate garbage beforehand).

Though they might lack proper safety training or protective gear, workers might routinely encounter used syringes, glass shards, noxious oil residue, or the odd squirrel.

The GOP vs. the rest of us:Poverty

Republicans cut unemployment insurance

Wisconsin GOP state legislator Jess Kremer wrote in his "term paper" about an idea he'd raised during his campaign: limiting the use of QUEST [food stamp] cards to privately-run food pantries overseen by the government. "Yes, it may be humbling to go into the pantry to purchase 'needed items,' but as I mentioned earlier, most people understand that this is meant to be a crutch and not a lifestyle."

Jindal to poor Louisianans: drop dead

87% of House Republicans voted against assistance to jobless

Paul Ryan - "The best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned hopelessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love.That's how you fight poverty,"

Jeb Bush - A loving family taking care of their children in a traditional marriage will create the chance to break out of poverty far better, far better than any of the government programs that we can create.

GOP votes to starve four million Americans

The GOP's civil war will cut 21 meals a month from food stamp recipients

House Republicans voted to throw 300,000 kids off of food stamps

House GOP prefers funding military bands to feeding the hungry

Florida governor Rick Scott is about to sign a bill that would require welfare recipients to undergo routine drug testing. Better still, this new legislation makes the poor people pay for their own drug tests. “Recipients who test positive for drugs would lose their benefits for a year. If they fail a second time, they lose the benefits for three years." -Wonkette

Wisconsin governor Walker is proposing to turn over the allocation of food stamps to a private corporation, which will get to decide who qualifies and who doesn't.

Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all. - Fight Back News

Joe Mller would end the minimum wage and reduced funding of the EPA

What ranked choice voting tells us about this election

Fair Vote - Public Policy Polling continues to show leadership in their collection and presentation of second choice data. Not only does the firm present the aggregate second-choice percentages, PPP reports the full breakdown of who each candidate’s supporters would select as their second choice.

Take PPP’s August 25 poll on New Hampshire. Part of its finding was that businessman Donald Trump is dominating the field – he is at 35% in New Hampshire, with John Kasich far back at 11%, followed by Carly Fiorina with 10% and Jeb Bush and Scott Walker tied with 7%. Trump finishes third among respondents for second-choice votes with 8% – only slightly behind Ben Carson (11%), and Carly Fiorina (10%). In other words, Trump is either the first- or second-choice of 43% of respondents, while former frontrunner Jeb Bush is the first- or second-choice of only 14%.

Department of Good Stuff: Best states

Best states based on ratings, incidents & practices in past year
  • Vermont
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • New Hampshire
  • Hawaii


I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management. - EB White

October 1, 2015

Why the Democrats aren't doing better

Sam Smith - With the GOP race for president led by three of the most bizarre, unreliable and incompetent candidates of modern times, with the probable new GOP House Speaker virtually admitting that the longest congressional investigation in history (re Benghazi) was really just a scheme to get at Hillary Clinton, and with other House members going after one of the most respectable institutions in American history - the century old Planned Parenthood - there is ample new support for a theory I have suggested for a number of years. Namely that the Republican Party is in a state of disintegration and, as with some similar cultural events, has turned to political, religious and cultural evangelical extremism to prolong its life and deny its collapse. My story below from 2012 addresses this further.

But one thing I didn't discuss is that while this has opened up a considerable opportunity for the Democrats, they have been in an extraordinary weak position to take advantage of it. For over thirty years, Democrats frightened by the rise of Reagan and other phenomena have been deserting the very policies that gave them an upper hand for  half a century marked by the New Deal and Great Society. Fostered by groups like the Democratic Leadership Council and their offspring such as the Clintons and Obama, the party has not only turned its back on its own triumphs but have not replaced them with anything worth getting excited about.

This is the great redemptive service of Bernie Sanders, the irony being that it is has taken a socialist to help the Democrats rediscover who they are. The danger, however, is that this discovery is not widespread enough and is so late that the future may offer little but chaotic madness. But whatever happens to Sanders, the Democrats should at least commit themselves to becoming a party with a decent plan again, and one that is based on the needs and interests of the bulk of Americans.  The Clinton driven Republican Lite alternative has failed miserably and has left the party in an extraordinarily weak position at the very moment they should be on the verge of triumph.

Sam Smith, 2012 - The departure of two Ricks and Michelle Bachmann, the collapse of Gingrich, as well as governors Scott, Walker, LePage, Kasich and Perry all having approval ratings below 45%, suggests that the Tea Party was somewhat overrated by the corporate media. It also gives me courage to suggest a theory that has been bouncing about in my mind, namely that the unprecedented craziness of the Republican Party leadership has been a reflection of pathology rather than of politics and that what we have witnessed has been the last rites of those trying futilely to return America to a place that they thought, mistakenly, once was and which will never be.

Real politicians, for example, don’t go out and deliberately alienate a demographic as large as women. That’s pure masochism. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University notes: “In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men. Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of male adults who voted.”

There simply aren’t enough old white guys to compensate for the anger being created by the GOP among women.

And consider a few of the other constituencies that prominent Republicans have insulted:

9/11 responders, AARP members, Americorps members, bicyclists, black men, children with pre-existing health conditions, college graduates, college students, consumers, cops, disabled people, disaster victims, ethnically mixed couples, gays, home owners, ill people who need medical marijuana, immigrants and their children, journalists, latinos, Methodists, minimum wage workers, residents of DC and Puerto Rico, scientists, Social Security recipients, state workers, and unemployed workers.

What may well have happened is what sometimes occurs when a longstanding culture finds itself facing near fatal attack.

For example, during a solar eclipse on January 1, 1889, an American Indian named Wovoka claimed to have had a dream in which all his fellow native Americans were taken into the sky as the Earth opened up and swallowed all the whites upon it. The earth then returned to its natural state as a land where native Americans could live in peace.

According to Wovoka, to make this dream real, his native Americans were to follow these instructions: "When you get home you must begin a dance and continue for five days. Dance for four successive nights, and on the last night continue dancing until the morning of the fifth day, when all must bathe in the river and then return to their homes. You must all do this in the same way. . . I want you to dance every six weeks. Make a feast at the dance and have food that everybody may eat."

The ghost dance culture would sweep across the tribes of western America as the dancers were losing their last hold on their beloved lands.

There are other examples:

- As military supplies poured into the Pacific Islands during World War II, local peoples reacted to the sudden change by developing "cargo cults" that offered magical explanations for the flow of imports. When the war ended, members of the cults built imitation landing strips and aircraft to attempt to recreate the former reality and restart the influx of goods.

- The early 20th century Maji Maji rebellion in Africa was spurred by a medium who offered medicine he claimed would turn German colonials' bullets into water.

- And sometimes the bad times produce not just the strange but the disastrous, as with the rise of Nazism.

Typically, such strange phenomena are a reaction to events that have overwhelmed many and led them to seek solace in a simplistic and seemingly comfortably symbolic solution.

Nazism, for example, didn't spring up as just an arbitrary evil virus. It fed on:

- Unhappiness in the wake of World War I, a war whose mass killings help set a new low value on human life.

- The collapse of conventional liberal and conservative politics that bears uncomfortable similarities to what we are now experiencing.

- The gross mismanagement of the economy and of such key worker concerns as wages, inflation, pensions, layoffs, and rising property taxes. There were also bankruptcies, negative trade balance, major decline in national production, and a large national debt rise compensated for by foreign investment. In other words, a version of what America and its workers are experiencing today.

- The use of negative campaigning, a contribution to modern politics by Joseph Goebbels. The Nazi campaigns argued what was wrong with their opponents and ignored stating their own policies. Sound at all familiar?

- The collapse of the country's self image, falling from world leadership in education, industry, science, and literacy.

Like Ghost Cult dancers in the 19th century, World War II Pacific Islanders wondering where their cargo was, Africans beset by German colonialists, and Germans beset by economic and cultural decline, Americans today face an extraordinary assemblage of change, discouragement, challenges and uncertainties.

Add together climate change, the erosion of democracy, the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, the decline of America's position in the world, rapid changes in both technology and social values, and the collapse of conventional conservative and liberal politics and we're lucky to have a reaction no stranger than that of the Tea Party movement.

Morning Line

In our moving average of recent polls, Trump is at 23, leading Carson by only 6 points. Fiorina in third place with 12, followed by Bush with 10, Rubio with 8 and Cruz with 6

Clinton has 24 point lead over Sanders. Biden is 24 points behind

Fukishima disaster still going on

Counterpunch - The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 2 nuclear reactor fuel is missing from the core containment vessel. Utilizing cosmic ray muon radiography with nuclear emulsion, researchers from Nagoya University peered inside the reactors at Fukushima. The nuclear fuel in reactor core No. 5 was clearly visible via the muon process. However, at No. 2 reactor, which released a very large amount of radioactive substances coincident with the 2011 explosion, little, if any, signs of nuclear fuel appear in the containment vessel. A serious meltdown is underway.

Recovered history: Early computers

History in Pix
Sam Smith - Loading a 5MB IBM hard drive in 1956.  A couple of years earlier my math teacher, Miss Darnell, had gone to Harvard for the summer to learn about computers. She had, in fact, almost been locked in one overnight because the machines of the day, with their innumerable vacuum tubes, occupied whole buildings while barely doing the work of an early Mac. (While I don't know the size of the one that almost swallowed her, a couple of years later Harvard acquired a UNIVAC, which had 7,000 tubes and 500 miles of wiring.) She came back and taught us the basis of boolean algebra. I wouldn't see a computer for twenty years, but when I did they didn't scare me.

Where psychiatrist and psychologists have gone bad

Bruce Levine

How to become a lawyer without going to law school

Cat Johnson, Sharable - Here’s a fun fact: Abraham Lincoln didn’t go to law school. He independently studied the law, registered with the Sangamon County Court in Illinois and passed an oral examination by a panel of attorneys. He was then given his license to practice law.

In five states, you can still take this non-law school route to becoming a lawyer. Vermont, Washington, California, Virginia and Wyoming all allow people to become lawyers by “reading the law,” which, simply put, means studying and apprenticing in the office of a practicing attorney or judge.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center is taking the lead in educating people about legal apprenticeships.

Those who know Fiorina best aren't giving to her

Of the 302,000 employees at [Hewlett-Packard], not one has given a reportable amount to help Fiorina fund her 2016 presidential campaign, according to the campaign’s most recent FEC filings, which lists all donations over $200. HP’s corporate leadership also doesn’t seem keen on the idea of Fiorina in the White House. Among the 12-member board of directors, just one, Ann Livermore, has given a donation above that threshold.

Also missing from the donor list are current CEO (and former GOP gubernatorial candidate) Meg Whitman, any members of the senior leadership team, and all but one member of the HP Board during Fiorina’s tenure there from 1999 to 2005. Tom Perkins, a venture capitalist and former board member who voted to fire Fiorina in 2005, has since had a change of heart and donated $25,000 to CARLY for America, the super PAC supporting her.

Shop talk

Sam Smith - One reason I like Planned Parenthood is because I owe them my existence. My parents belonged to PP and when I was a teen I asked why they did, given that they had had six children. "You were all planned," she replied stiffly.

Brain drain: The hazards of grad school politics

From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, 2009

Back when JFK was getting ready to invade Cuba, the New Republic got wind of the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles.

Harvard professor Arthur Schlesinger was shown an advance copy of the article, which he promptly passed to Kennedy, who in turn asked (successfully) that TNR not print it. The New York Times also withheld a story on the pending invasion, which Schlesinger would later praise as a “patriotic act” although he admitted wondering whether if the “press had behaved irresponsibly, it would not have spared the country a disaster.”

Schlesinger was a prototype for that modern phenomenon, the meddlesome Harvard prof seeking manly vigor by helping presidents damage this country. Henry Kissinger and McGeorge Bundy would soon follow. Later, the staff and management of the Harvard Business School would assist at the collapse of the Russian economy even as their colleagues at the Kennedy School were teaching scores of American politicians how to repeal 60 years of social progress.

It certainly hasn’t all been Harvard’s fault. As LBJ once told an aide, the CIA was filled with boys from Princeton and Yale whose daddies wouldn’t let them into the brokerage firm.

The American intelligentsia has repeatedly let the country down. Consider that exemplar for generations of law school students: Oliver Wendell Holmes. Prospective litigants have all learned Holmes’ immortal warning that “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” Fewer, I suspect, have also learned that these words were uttered in defense of the contemptible Espionage Act and that Holmes himself was among those upholding Eugene Debs’ sentence of ten years in prison for saying such things as “the master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.”

As early as the turn of the last century, Julian Benda noted, there had been a shift among intellectuals from being a “check on the realism of the people to acting as stimulators of political passions.” He described these new intellectuals as being most interested in the possession of concrete advantages and material values, while holding up to scorn the pursuit of the spiritual, the non-practical or the disinterested.

It is true that many intellectuals and grad school graduates took a strong stand against the Vietnam War. But that was a long time ago and today there is nothing even remotely close to that era when the Kissingers and Bundys were matched by others including, in 1970, 1000 lawyers joining an anti-war protest.

In The Twentieth Century: A People’s History, Howard Zinn describes a response by some of the intelligentsia stunningly at odds with what we are currently observing: The poet Robert Lowell, invited to a White House function, refused to come. Arthur Miller, also invited, sent a telegram to the White House: “When the guns boom, the arts die.” Singer Eartha Kitt was invited to a luncheon on the White House lawn and shocked all those present by speaking out, in the presence of the President’s wife, against the war. . . In Hollywood, local artists erected a 60-foot Tower of Protest on Sunset Boulevard. At the National Book Award ceremonies in New York, fifty authors and publishers walked out on a speech by Vice President.

These, remember, were protests against a far more liberal president than we have today – a man who had already shepherded through Congress the most progressive social changes since the New Deal.

Things really started to collapse with the Democratic conservative Clinton administration, typified by a major group of intelligentsia coming to his defense over the Monica Lewinsky affair. It’s just lucky we didn’t have to rely upon this craven crowd when we were fighting George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Carmine DeSapio and Richard Daley. They probably would have lectured us all about party unity.

You had Toni Morrison claiming that “the president is, being stolen from us” and Jane Smiley virtually applauding the president for demonstrating in his relationship with Monica a “desire to make a connection with another person something I trust.” And there was a multinational manifesto issued by the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Desmond Tutu, William Styron, Lauren Becall, Jacques Derrida, Sophia Loren, Carlos Fuentes, Vanessa Redgrave and the ever-faithful Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

Obama’s campaign brought this crowd alive again and, as with Clinton, one hears little talk of economic or social issues. It is all about the new savior.
Who needed to worry about foreclosures as long as Obama was in charge.

But beyond the weaknesses of the Democratic Party being turned into an elite, conservative club are some serious intellectual problems. A growing number of those in charge have been educated in graduate schools that train their students in a particular and limited perspective on life: whether it be law, business or economics. The number those trained in history, arts, anthropology or the classics who have also risen to the politics top is minuscule.

The favored skills have their virtue but only within a larger context, something recognized by twenty percent of the Harvard Business School graduates who have signed a pledge “to serve the greater good,” a move presumably driven by a sense that the goal was not intrinsic to the school’s curriculum.

These schools are an elite form of vocational training. Vocational training is useful when applied to the vocation for which one is trained. They can be helpful in other fields as well, like running a government, but only in conjunction with other values and skills.

Apply the law excessively and you can come up with endless good sounding excuses for violating the Constitution.

Apply the lessons of business school excessively and you happily bail out many of the biggest banks but hardly any homeowners in the depths of foreclosure purgatory.

Apply the lessons of economics excessively and you can declare the recession ending even as more Americans are losing their jobs.

Among the other biases is an undue faith in expertise and status, reflected in the hierarchical approach to the stimulus bill and so-called education reforms. There is little indication emanating from the Obama administration that it appreciates or respects the vast pool of competent politicians and bureaucrats at every level of our society. There is even an implicit disrespect reflected in how much control is concentrated at such a high altitude. Among the effects: a constituency of state and local officials who are somewhat or quite annoyed at Obama instead of being enthusiastic participants in his programs.

You also can drive the soul out of politics, which helps to explain why we can have such a huge recovery program with hardly any good stories of how it has helped real people. In grad school politics, anecdotes don’t count; only data.

As this soulless, heartless politics takes control, the distance between the politician and the voter grows, even – as is now becoming painfully evident – to the point of nasty distrust and anger.

Some of this, in the case of Obama, is due to ethnic prejudice and some to the manipulation of issues like healthcare by the rotten right. But it is still surprising that Obama of all people – who has yet to find an issue about which he is reliably passionate and who uses the word ‘bipartisan’ like teenagers use ‘you know’ – has stirred such frenzy.

Among the factors at work may be that his very lack of conviction makes convincing argument difficult; that at a time when so many are hurting so much, he seems so distant and abstract; that he is able to present data but not draw pictures, and that he lectures when he should just be talking and scolds when he should be sharing.

Further, many of his well educated liberal constituents have made it quite clear what they think about the mass of unhappy America. If you read the liberal blogs and comments of their readers, what comes through is not a desire to reach this constituency but merely to hold it in contempt. The numbers would suggest that is not good politics.

Obama is not alone. Congress and the executive branch is increasingly filled with those who know how to speak to a camera but not to an ordinary American.

Further, as our elites become better educated, more of what passes for learning is vicarious, e.g. learned from books rather than from experience. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, books are all right in their way but they are a pretty poor substitute for life.

In earlier times the learned either had to retreat to monasteries or else have their abstract knowledge constantly jostled by the daily demands of survival as well as by the philistinism and practical knowledge of the non-literate masses. Consider how different the daily life of a Jefferson or a Frederick Douglass was in comparison with that of a Larry Summers or Henry Louis Gates. In earlier times the privilege of the insular world belonged to a few monks and scholars; today it is just another commodity one can purchase.

Among the most dramatic changes in Washington has been the disappearance of the practical person, the individuals – whether pol, hack or adviser – who compensate for deficiencies in formal learning with a superb understanding of life. They were either masters of the pragmatic or of the moral, but in either case served as the GPS of national politics.

In their place we find a town overflowing with decadent dandies who, to quote a 19th century journalist, have been educated well beyond their intellects.

They keep busy creating fictions about the nature of politics and the presidency that coincidentally serve their own ambitions, until they become incapable of returning to reality.

The intelligentsia, like everything else in America, has also become corporatized. This can be seen at its worst on campuses and in publishing houses. Journalism and academia have become so subordinated to the needs of their controlling conglomerates that the vital ground between starvation and surrender has become, economically at least, increasingly difficult to hold.

The safest route is to cling to approved symbols while shucking substance, to serve in a House of Lords of the mind, robed and bewigged but naked of power and meaning.

This alteration in the relation of the intellectual to the culture was instinctively grasped by the DC elementary school student as she defined the difference between art and graffiti as “Art is when you have permission to do it.” These are days when you not only need permission for art, but also to think. And among the places you go for permission are corporations and grad schools.

For much of my life I have hewed to H. L. Mencken’s dictum that the liberation of the human mind has been best furthered by those “who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving . . . that doubt, after all, was safe – that the god in the sanctuary was a fraud.” For much of my life this strategy has worked. Even in the gathering gloom of the Reagan-Bush years. But starting with the arrival of the Clinton administration and its cultural as well as political authoritarianism, skepticism began being blacklisted. Not only was belief to be unopposed by doubt but the terms themselves were banned. In their place was only loyalty or disloyalty.

Under current rules, truth belongs to the one with the most microphones clamped to his podium and the most bucks to buy them. In the end it has become a struggle for the control of fact and memory not unlike that described in 1984: “Who controls the past controls the future, ran the Party slogan, “who controls the present controls the past.”

All that is needed is an unending series of victories over memory.

In such a time those with what are considered wrong memories and wrong facts are considered mad, disparaged, and ignored. To hold power happily, one must not be curious and one must not question fully accredited paradigms. To think is to fail. . . .

America has frequently been blessed by the bitter dissatisfaction of those still barred from tasting the fruits of its ideals. It has been the pressure of the dispossessed, rather than the virtue of those in power, that has repeatedly saved this country's soul.

In this century, three such influences have been those of immigrants, blacks, and women. Yet in each case now, social and economic progress has inevitably produced a dilution of passion for justice and change.

Thus we find ourselves with a women's movement much louder in its support of Hillary Clinton than about the plight of its sisters at the bottom of the economic pile. We have conservative black economists decrying the moral debilitation of affirmative action but few rising to the defense of those suffering under the rampant incarceration of young black males. We are also at the end of an succession of Jewish writers and thinkers, raised on the immigrant experience, who created much of the form of progressive 20th century America. Now Jewish writers and thinkers tend to be too busy saving Israel to even notice the American underclass.

Meanwhile, those truly at the bottom -- such as black and white men without a college education or new immigrant groups -- are rarely heard from or about except in reports on crime and poverty.

The dirty secret of 20th century social movements is that they have been successful enough to create their own old boy and girl networks, powerful enough to enter the Chevy Chase Club, and indifferent enough to ignore those left behind.

Their elites have joined to form the largest, most prosperous, and most narcissistic intelligentsia in our history.

And as the best and brightest enjoy their power, who will speak for those who, in Bill Mauldin's phrase, remain fugitives from the law of averages? Not the best and brightest because they have built an oligarchy that gets its face from the united colors of Benetton but its economics from the divided classes of Dickens.

The GOP vs. the rest of us: Seniors

The GOP war on you: Social Security

Jeb Bush wants to push back the retirement age for Social Security by as many as five years.

Cruz would privatize Social Security

Republicans want your Social Security to crash with the stock market

US Senator Mario Rubio says Social Security and Medicare made Americans less inclined to save

Eric Cantor (R-VA) claimed that he didn't expect Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare to be around when he retires. "What we [House Republicans] have said is this: We'll protect today's seniors and those nearing retirement, but for the rest of us, all of us, who are 54 and younger, I know the programs are not going to be there for me when I retire'"

Texas Gov. Rick Perry advocated letting states opt-out of Social Security.

Former Senator Alan Simpson calls America's seniors the "greediest generation."


A free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps -- Robert Benchley

September 30, 2015

HRC's State Department planted questions on Sixty Minutes

The email

First ballot initiative against Nestle

US Uncut - A first-in-the-nation ballot initiative to stop Nestle from buying public water may soon be up for a vote in Oregon’s Hood River County.

The ballot initiative aims to block a convoluted water deal handing over water rights to both the state of Oregon and Hood River County to Nestle, resulting in the company selling the county’s water. The ballot initiative could stop the deal in its tracks and sound a warning to Nestle and other water-bottling companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi that local populations are rallying to protect their water rights.

More evidence of feds aiding Latin American drug cartel

Business Insider - An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.

Sinaloa, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.

There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be "the world’s most powerful drug trafficker," coordinates with American authorities.

But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.

The Contras and cocaine

Fiorina backs waterboading

Guardian - Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has endorsed waterboarding... In an interview with Yahoo News, Fiorina said: “I believe that all of the evidence is very clear – that waterboarding was used in a very small handful of cases [and] was supervised by medical personnel in every one of those cases.”

The 2014 Senate report that called waterboarding – in which water is poured over a cloth on a prisoner’s face in order to simulate the feeling of drowning – tantamount to torture and said it produced little useful intelligence. Fiorina called the report “disingenuous” and “a shame” that “undermined the morale of a whole lot of people who dedicated their lives to keeping the country safe”.

Naureen Shah of Amnesty International told Yahoo of Fiorina’s comments: “This is completely rewriting the history of what happened.”

Fiorina also detailed how, as head of Hewlett-Packard, she provided the National Security Agency with a significant number of computer servers in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11

The GOP vs national parks

Think Progress - Barely 24 hours after Pope Francis appealed to U.S. lawmakers to help protect “our common home,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) announced that he intends this week to kill the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is known as America’s best parks program. The move — which is expected to succeed — places dozens of U.S. national parks at heightened risk of commercial development, including Grand Teton National Park and Gettysburg National Military Park. The LWCF is a budget-neutral program that uses fees from offshore oil and gas development to fund national, state, and local conservation projects.

Police blotter

Dear Josh D-----

Sir, we appreciate that you sent us this photo. Of course we are concerned. We asked the driver of Unit #22 if there had been any mishaps while on patrol today and he said there had been no trouble.

Further review of the photo led us to believe that he might have been withholding information.

We brought him into the office for a few more questions. Lt. Kenison advised me that his uniform was slightly askew. His pants were not present but he was wearing a damp, dark blue Speedo and there was a snorkel in his gun belt. The snorkel was not issued and was being carried in his issued, baton holder.

We have more questions for him but he claimed that he had a water bubble in his right eardrum and he could not hear us. He said he needed to to go find a Q-Tip. Due to the possibility of a workers compensation situation, we released him from the inquiry.

We will discuss it with him in the morning. In the meantime we do always take complaints seriously and will inform you the outcome of the investigation.

Sgt. Tim Cotton
Bangor Police Department

GOP setting records

John West

Israel boycott stories the NY Times ignored


September 2015: The Icelandic capital Reykjavík’s vote to boycott Israeli goods and the backlash from pro-Israel groups that led the city to severely limit the boycott.

August 2015: The Black Solidarity Statement with Palestine that “wholeheartedly endorse[d]” BDS, signed by over 1,100 black scholars, activists, artists, students and organizations, including Cornel West (mentioned by the Times 34 times in the last two years), Angela Davis (14 times), Mumia Abu-Jamal (nine times) and Talib Kweli (19 times).

June 2015: The United Nations’ annual World Investment Report, which found that foreign direct investment in Israel plummeted by half after Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza in 2014.

April 2015: French multinational Veolia’s decision to sell most of its business assets in Israel after seven years of pressure from BDS activists.

February 2015: Stanford University student government’s vote to support divestment.

January 2015: University of California/Davis student government’s vote to support divestment, making it the seventh of ten UC schools to do so.

October 2014: Anthropologists’ statement to boycott Israeli institutions, signed by over 1,000 scholars.

Putin on what Obama could learn from the Soviet Union's past

History News Network - At the UN General Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that President Obama needs to learn the lessons of history before intervening internationally, because "certain episodes from the history of the Soviet Union, social experiments for export, attempts to push for changes with other countries based on ideological preferences... often lead to tragic consequences."

"It seems that far from learning from the mistakes of others, everyone keeps repeating them," Putin said. "And so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called democratic ones, continues. It was enough to look at the situation in the Middle and North Africa."

"But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms and addressing foreign interference, it resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and lifestyles. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social division. And nobody cares about about human rights, including the rights to life."

Medical marijuana holds up in study

Science Direct - Quality-controlled herbal cannabis, when used by cannabis-experienced patients as part of a monitored treatment program over one year, appears to have a reasonable safety profile. Longer term monitoring for functional outcomes is needed.

Sanders has a million donors

Political Wire - Sen. Bernie Sanders said his campaign reached its goal of one million individual online contributions, the Wall Street Journal reports. “He is the first candidate of the 2016 campaign to announce it had reached this number – and he reached it faster than President Obama did in 2008 and 2012. The Sanders campaign has touted its goal of hitting one million online donations by tonight’s deadline to spur more individuals to donate.”

Arizona requires loyalty oath for state employees

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed - James Sallis, a novelist who may be the most famous faculty member at Phoenix College, has for many years taught as an adjunct at the community college. But he told Phoenix reporters hat he's quitting -- rather than sign a state loyalty oath the college has previously ignored but is now making hundreds of adjuncts sign.

Officials at the college told the station that it had no choice under state law but to require Sallis to sign. The officials said that, in preparation for an accreditation review, the college found that 800 adjunct instructors -- Sallis among them -- had never signed the loyalty oath, and all have been told they must do so to keep their jobs.

Arizona does in fact have a loyalty oath requirement for all employees of the state or other government units. In the oath, people must pledge to "support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona; That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Opponents of loyalty oaths tend to say that they do in fact support the constitution, but that requiring such support is a violation of their free speech rights, especially given that such oaths were a tool of McCarthy-era politicians to harass those with whom they disagreed.

Tom Brady doesn't understand "taken out of context" as well as politics

Portland Press Herald - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says his comments that he hopes Donald Trump will win the presidency were taken out of context and an example of why he tries to say as little as possible when speaking publicly.

Brady said during an interview with WEEI-FM radio in Boston that his vote is going to be his own personal choice based on how he feels.

“I don’t even know what the issues are. I haven’t paid attention to politics in a long time,” Brady said. “It’s actually not something that I really even enjoy. It’s way off my radar.”

The clarification comes after Brady displayed a red “Make America Great Again” hat from the Trump campaign in his locker while speaking with reporters on Sept. 16, the same day as a Republican presidential debate. When asked whether he thought Trump has what it takes to win the presidency, Brady said: “I hope so. It would be great. There would be a putting green on the White House lawn, I’m sure of that.”

Trump provided homes for for some nasty people

Daily Beast - Trump Tower may not be a safe space for the undocumented immigrants President Trump plans to deport. But it’s provided cozy shelter for supporters of some of the world’s nastiest regimes—including one of the most brutal dictators of the last half-century.

And while the mogul-turned-aspiring-holder-of-nuclear-codes has promised to be tough on freedom’s foes, he isn’t above selling them a sturdy roof and warm bed at night.

First off, there’s Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the now-deceased former dictator of Haiti who snagged a condo in New York City’s Trump Tower worth upward of $2.5 million. Duvalier was not a particularly nice person. For instance, he sold dead Haitians’ body parts to finance his fancy lifestyle......

Race to the bottom: Republicans

  • Donald Trump
  • Scott Walker
  • Paul LePage
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Ted Cruz
  • Ben Carson
  • Marco Rubio
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Carla Fiorina
  • John McCain
  • Chris Christie
  • Rand Paul

Race to the bottom

Worst loud mouths
  • Donald Trump
  • Chris Christie
  • Paul LePage

The GOP vs. the rest of us: Secession

@Harpers - Percentage of Republicans in a January survey who believed their state should secede from the Union: 23

37% of Mississippi Republicans would back Confederates in another Civil War


My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably. - George Bernard Shaw

September 29, 2015

People's Party on elections

 78 percent want Citizens United overturned

Planned Parenthood almost twice as popular as Trump or Bush

According to a NBC - Wall Street Journal survey

Thanks, Pope

Sam Smith

During the Pope's recent visit we were regularly reminded by some that he and his church has failed on a number of matters such as gay marriage, abortion, and clerical sexual abuse. There can be no argument with this except that this was not the best time to bring it up. If the only acceptable change is that which fully meets one's goals or dreams, then there can be no progress all. Life just doesn't work like that.

I was reminded, reading these critiques, of decades of declarations from left idealists that some change had failed because it was only partial.

Typically driving this complaint was a powerful theoretical conception of the ideal society that should define our actions. I had learned in college as an anthropology major and fledgling reporter to view life more from the bottom up: here is the evidence, now what does it show us? It was not that I didn't share many of the ideals of the theorists (who tended to get better grades because they were in sync with academic deductive thinking) but that I saw life as more complex than they did. Further, a theory doesn't mean much if you can't talk sense to the person whose doorbell you just rang.

As I became an activist, I found myself dealing with issues such as, regardless of an idea's virtue, how do you get anyone to pay attention to it? I was coached by people such as a Presbyterian minister trained by Saul Alinsky, a chemistry major named Marion Barry, and a remarkable activist named Julius Hobson who easily blended the economic, the moral and the ideal into specific actions. During this time, we had the largest local protest in Washington's history, a level of self government we hadn't seen in a century, and the beginning of a successful war against a huge freeway system in which the original catalyst was the protest by some dramatically atypical activists: black and white middle class homeowners. It was in such ways that I came to see change as an unpredictable mixture of the right thoughts, the right people, the right language, the right place and the right moment. It was the imperfection of good hearts running into good luck.

Thus, this Seventh Day Agnostic recognized Pope Francis as a soulmate right away. He understands the uncertainties of change and how one adapts to it. The theoretical he repeatedly put aside for today's work.

Part of such adaptation is compromise, a concept that is not well understood these days. During my years in Washington I came to realize that many politicians did not actually judge the compromises they made by the progress they permitted, but by a simple point score: did I win or they? Many compromises did no one a favor.

To fairly judge a compromise you need a destination, something many Democrats and Republicans seem to have forgotten about. The difference, say, between an LBJ and an Obama is that the former had someplace to go beside retaining power. It makes a big difference.

To fairly judge an imperfect soul such as Pope Francis, one needs to ask - whatever his compromises - has he moved us towards a more decent destination? Are we better off than we were a few days ago.

I'm sorry about the church's position on gay marriage and abortion, but if the end result of the Pope's visit is that we give decency better status in our thinking and our actions, then we have made progress and we owe him some real thanks.

Teacher gets placed on leave for using too precise a metaphor

Fusion - Pending an internal human resources investigation, a high school history teacher has been placed on administrative leave at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia after allegedly using a racial epithet during a classroom discussion about stereotypes, WTKR 3 reports.

Lynn Pierce’s U.S. history class was recently discussing the name of the Washington NFL franchise when the remarks were made.
WTKR spoke with Pierce off camera:
Pierce told us she was doing a lesson on Native Americans, and a student asked her ‘What’s the big deal with calling them Redskins?’–referring to the football team.

Using the team as an example, Pierce told NewsChannel 3 that she tried explaining why it’s inappropriate to use prejudicial and stereotypical names about any racial group.

She then said, “What would you think if someone started a team called the Newport News N****rs?”
In a call with Fusion, Michelle Price, Heritage High School’s director of public information, confirmed that a teacher was under investigation for comments made in the classroom after several students made complaints...

... Price informed me that teacher in question, who WTKR reports has worked at the school for over 40 years, is white and the group of high school juniors and seniors present at the time (“about 24, 25 kids”) is predominantly black.

How to tell if the food you're buying is organic

Tree Hugger - PLU (or Price Look Up) codes are the 4- or 5-digit numbers on produce stickers that have been used by supermarkets since 1990. They represent a globally standardized system implemented by the International Federation for Produce Standards, a group of national produce associations from around the globe...

The system is based on 4-digit codes that are within the 3000 and 4000 series. The numbers are assigned randomly, that is, each digit does not imply anything specifically, just an overall identification number. As an example, a small Fuji apple has the code of 4129, a large Fuji apple has the code 4132.

If the 4-digit number is preceded by a 9, it indicates that it was grown organically. 94416 in the photo above? An organic large Anjou pear; a conventionally grown large Anjou pear would be 4416. So any 5-digit number that starts with a 9 identifies the produce as organic


There are more than 18 million vacant homes in the U.S., which would be enough for every homeless person to have six.

Why Republicans should stop disssin' climate change

Charlotte Observer - Republican voters might not like the term climate change, but they support clean energy policies, according to a poll released Monday by a Charlotte-based group.ClearPath, an advocacy group founded by Charlottean Jay Faison, commissioned the poll as part of an effort to show climate change is not just a Democratic issue...

Among the poll’s findings:

▪ Almost three out of four Republicans support the development and use of clean energy.

▪ The best way for GOP candidates to win support for clean energy policies is to talk about them in terms of reducing pollution, creating jobs and reducing American dependence on Middle East sources of energy.

▪ Carbon taxes for power plants and tax incentives for the development of alternative energy sources were each backed by 54 percent of Republicans but opposed by a majority of conservatives.

▪ Most voters as well as 56 percent of Republicans believe the climate is changing and humans play a role.

Still an absurd number of Americans arrested for pot charges

Hit & Run - New FBI data indicate that the number of marijuana arrests in the United States rose last year for the first time since 2009. The change, from 693,482 in 2013 to 700,993 in 2014, represented an increase of just 1 percent, but it suggests that enforcement has intensified in jurisdictions where possessing small amounts of marijuana is still an arrestable offense. In recent years states such as Massachusetts, California, Colorado, and Washington have eliminated such arrests, contributing to a downward trend that began in 2010. Marijuana arrests also have fallen sharply in New York City since 2011 and continued to fall there in 2014. Last year's national total was still 18 percent lower than the 2009 peak of 858,408.

The GOP vs. the rest of us: NSA

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) said in an interview that a National Security Agency program that collects information on Americans’ phone calls is “not a violation of civil liberties.”

Jeb Bush thinks NSA's illegal spyng is "hugely important"

Race to the bottom: Democrats

Hillary Clinton
Arne Duncan
Chuck Schumer
Bill Clinton
Lanny Davis
Barack Obama

Race to the bottom: Boycott targets



What if there were no hypothetical questions? - Steven Wright

September 28, 2015

What's with the Clinton campaign?

Sam Smith - Since covering my first Washington story over 55 years ago, I have never seen a leading candidate for president of either party running a campaign as lackluster in action and response as that of Hillary Clinton’s so far. Part of this is clearly the media’s fault: Google lists 30 times as many news mentions of Donald Trump as it does for Clinton. But it is also the case that HRC has a chronic problem with excitement. Even some of her controversies – such as the email matter – are more bureaucratically complex than emotionally stirring.

This is not an ideological matter. It is more like a leading pitcher who is now throwing nothing but balls and no one can quite figure out why.

Except if you look back to last season, it’s actually not quite so much of a mystery. Here are some assessments of HRC’s 2008 campaign at the time that include things no one mentions today:
Newsweek, 2008 - The flip side of Obama's respect for voters was Clinton's disrespect. It began with her announcement of her candidacy in early 2007, when she said she was "in it to win it." …. The not-so-secret assumption behind her entire campaign was that she was the inevitable nominee. But voters don't like to be told how they will vote by politicians (or pundits). It's disrespectful….
Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign manager, was in over her head, and communications director Howard Wolfson convinced himself that being rude to reporters (or complaining to their bosses) would somehow improve the tone of the coverage. His subordinates followed this approach to press relations, sometimes verbally abusing TV bookers and others in the media. The problem with "working the refs" (a basketball term for riding referees in hopes of a good call later on) is that, while it can sometimes succeed in the short term, it's always a long-term loser. Reporters wait in the weeds..

The reason Clinton didn't adjust more quickly, alienated many potential donors, antagonized the press and had so much trouble winning over uncommitted super delegates, is that from start to finish her campaign gave off a distinct whiff of arrogance. Campaign staffers, internalizing that victory was inevitable, felt that Clinton's stature in the party gave them license to play rough with anyone who wouldn't come along. So early on donors coughed up money, super delegates pledged their support, and media outlets bought into meaningless national polls showing her way ahead, but few were happy about it. Unlike the die hard Clinton lovers, they felt intimidated. So later, when she desperately needed their support, they weren't there for her.

Suzanne Goldenerg, Guardian, 2008 -Voters were not impressed by Clinton's skills as a survivor - they wanted to move past the battles of the 1990s. Her campaign's failure to read the signs left her cast as a creature of the status quo, said Ken Goldstein, an expert in campaign advertising at the University of Wisconsin. "Hillary Clinton could have been portrayed as a change candidate," he said. "If you look at the way women candidates typically run, they typically run as change candidates because by definition they are not old white guys." Instead, Clinton stuck to a blandly centrist message that was calibrated to voters in a presidential election rather than the Democratic party activists who dominate the primary process.

Rick Klein, ABC News, 2008 - Her campaign, it would turn out, was based on a series of fundamental miscalculations — about the mood of the electorate, the threat posed by Sen. Barack Obama and even the basic rules of the Democratic primary process. In retrospect, the mistakes started with a faulty assumption: That inevitability itself could underpin the rationale for a presidential candidacy, even in the face of a deep Democratic desire for change and the wide enthusiasm that greeted a first-term senator from Illinois.

When the veneer of invincibility slipped away, so did much of the campaign's strategic foundations, leading to the staff infighting, public eruptions, financial woes and a string of devastating defeats that contributed to Obama's clinching of the Democratic nomination…

She seemed to have a lengthy policy prescription for every problem a voter had — meanwhile, Obama fired up arenas filled with thousands of enthusiastic supporters. She seemed to alternate between offense and defense almost by the day, or by the debate.
Since a Republican victory this year may well be the most damaging political event in our history since the secession that led to the Civil War, it would be helpful if the media took a little more critical look at the Clinton campaign. If, in fact, it is having problems of political pragmatism, excessive exercise of control by its candidate, false assumptions of inevitability, emotional or health issues, or lack of a workable plan - just to name a few possibilities – it’s not too late to face this reality and come up with a better solution.

Meanwhile, since I first began covering the Clinton story over twenty years ago, I have never heard such caution, concern and lack of passion from her own supporters. It’s too early to provide a clear explanation but not too soon to say that something may not be working right.