Thursday, May 15, 2014


By Carl 

So Karl Rove got caught with his tongue firmly up his ass cheek by one of his own media outlets and now he's been forced to jog back some comments:

Last week, Karl Rove questioned her capacity for the White House and reportedly said she had brain damage.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Mr Rove, the strategist behind George W Bush's election to the White House, had told an audience in Los Angeles last week, "Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that."

In fact, Mrs Clinton was in hospital for three days after falling ill with a stomach bug in December 2012. After becoming severely dehydrated, Mrs Clinton fell at home and struck her head, suffering a concussion. While she was in hospital doctors diagnosed a blood clot.

Needless to say, when this became public, Rove was forced to eat his words:

"I didn't say she had brain damage. I said she had a serious health episode," he said on Fox News.

It's incumbent of me to point out that Fox News and the New York Post are both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., so essentially Rove is denying that Murdoch's people can tell the truth.

And the delicious irony is that he used Murdoch's outlets as his own personal PR machine for decades. The cherry on top? He worked for a man in George W. Bush with enough emotional and mental instabilities to likely choke a horse. An unrecovering alcoholic, possible cocaine addict with delusions of godhood and perfection, yet Rove couldn't quite bring his armchair medical insight to a real problem of a real person with the very real ability to screw us all up, but good. Which Bush managed to do.

Somehow, Rove missed all that.

He seems nice.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Your basic quagmire

By Carl 

The more I think about the Chelsea (fka Bradley) Manning situation, the shape it takes gets more and more bizarre:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Pentagon is considering transferring Ptv. [sic] Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where the soldier serving time for leaking classified documents could receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria, Defense officials said Wednesday.

That option is among several Army leaders are weighing as they wrestle with a dilemma that is likely to set precedent on a fraught issue for the Pentagon, which has come under increasing pressure to reexamine its prohibition on allowing transgender people to serve in uniform.

OK, before you jump ugly on me, I have no problem with what Chelsea did to get her sentence – in fact, I hold her in far higher regard than I do Edward Snowden, especially after Putin has all but discredited Snowden's pure motives – and I don't really have a problem with her desire to transform her body into a woman's. Hear me out, though.

In the normal course of events, an active-duty Chelsea would have received a medical discharge and been forced to pay for her treatments on her own, which makes sense under the old guard rules where women's roles in the armed forces were restricted – and I'm not defending those rules, just acknowledging they were a reality under which policies were developed like this.

Under the evolving rules of the military, women have a larger role in all areas of the forces, including combat. A born-male woman could conceivably still maintain whatever role she assumed in her male form with little to no real effect to her performance.

Here's where things get interesting: as convicted, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but military rules call for the expulsion of anyone who takes steps to treat her gender dysphoria, so therefore Chelsea should be discharged. This is why one option the Pentagon is considering is a transfer to a federal penitentiary, where she could receive the treatment she needs.

In fact, that has precedent in situations where there is a life-threatening illness that military medicine is ill-equipped to treat. This course of action is further bolstered by the recent decision in the First Circuit Court of Appeals that a transgendered individual who has received a bona fide treatment plan endorsed by physicians must be allowed treatment, that to deny this treatment is unconstitutional under the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause. Chelsea would be entitled to treatment and the military could maintain its facade of "morality" as defined by the right wing yahoos (and avoid an awful lot of awkward publicity).

So this seems a reasonable gesture for the Pentagon to take for Manning and all other transgender soldiers. Right?

OK, but the forensic auditor in me has a question, and when you consider it, you'll see why my mind got blown:

What if this was Chelsea's plan all along?

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Honey, we never had kids!

By Capt. Fogg

Someone told me that the Church of the Latter Day Saints is the fastest growing religion in the world, but it isn't -- not if one can call a family of beliefs that share the philosophy that nothing you hear is true a religion. Of course, when it comes to Sunday Supplement health and nutrition articles and the books that make diet doctors rich, little of it may actually be true, but there is no end of things that are really beyond reasonable doubt and should largely be beyond unreasonable doubt too. I wasted some time last week for instance with a fool who insisted no airplane could have hit the Pentagon because of the "ground effect," although I certainly know better than to do that.

But no, the winner, the fastest growing most universal faith is Denialism, and I think it's time to stop looking at it as anything but a religion. It has a canon and a catechism, albeit simple: Whatever happened didn't happen and I have a conspiracy to explain it. I have proof that nobody ever went to the Moon because the pictures they took would have been ruined by the Van Allen belts. The pyramids were built by aliens because how else? The World Trade Center must have been sabotaged because steel doesn't melt at the temperature of burning jet fuel... No, don't go away, I'm not going to explain why this is the purest of bull, I'm more interested at how nothing true is exempt from Denialist interpretation anymore.

Sure, it's a big country and you can find a few people who think anything and deny anything. It makes them feel important, but like most religions in today's America, they have their preachers and politicians and lobbyists spreading the faith like it was Ebola. Think nothing is true and they're coming for your shotgun? Who ya gonna call? Rand Paul!  

Imagine someone calling you up and insisting that not only did your daughter not die in the school shooting at Sandy Hook, but she never existed! Birth certificate? Hey we know about birth certificates, don't we? And we know about Photoshop, too -- you can't fool me with your pictures! Hey, it was all a scam to allow the government to take our guns and you know they have no other purpose than to take your guns!

Rand Paul thinks so too, or at least he wants the nutjobs, nitwits, and whackadoodles to think he does because, after all, lunatics, idiots, and devout Denialists need representation too. Nope, nobody died, it never happened and if you know somebody who died, you're a liar, because they never existed. 

Stunning, isn't it, but that's the world of Denialists, or "truthers" as they often like to be known. Who says they're immune to irony? They're good at it, even if they can't see it.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Private eyes are watching you

By Carl 

In all the uproar over government surveillance and the NSA wiretaps and what not, we seem to be ignoring a far greater invasion of our collective privacies:

Celebrities can take back exits and limos with tinted windows to dodge the paparazzi -- but a leaked video that purportedly shows Beyoncé's sister beating up on Jay Z in the elevator of a swanky New York hotel is a reminder that there are still plenty of ways to be caught on candid camera.

The grainy footage obtained by entertainment website TMZ allegedly shows Solange Knowles roughing up the rapper, and was reportedly recorded by a surveillance camera on May 5 at The Standard hotel. While it's unclear how the footage was leaked, multiple people could have accessed the archives, a security expert told NBC News.

"We are shocked and disappointed that there was a clear breach of our security system and the confidentiality that we count on providing our guests," The Standard told The Grio in an email. The company added it is "investigating with the utmost urgency."

To me, this is merely an extension of the paparazzi phenomenon of the 1970s and '80s: people in public places (and yes, a hotel elevator would be deemed a public place) caught on camera in what one might say are states of public solitude – underdressed, no makeup, engaged in private conversations, being naughty in some respect or other.

Lately, it seems these incidents have become far more commonplace: the rash seems to have started with Congressman Vance McAllister and run through Donald Sterling to Jay-Z and his family. Security footage or other supposedly "private" recordings leaked to the press and published.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for those caught (indeed, in Sterling's case, it was his taping system that was used against him, much like Watergate and President Nixon). If you're not at home, you should assume you're on camera, particularly if you have any kind of public profile.

Read more »

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

As Republicans stick their heads even further up their asses, anthropogenic global warming continues to wreak havoc, with global catastrophe likely inevitable

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From the Times:

A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.

Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.

The rise of the sea is likely to continue to be relatively slow for the rest of the 21st century, the scientists added, but in the more distant future it may accelerate markedly, potentially throwing society into crisis.

"This is really happening," Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA's programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said in an interview. "There's nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow."

Note here, once again, how scientific research produces not inflammatory polemics but cautious, nuanced conclusions and sober, reasoned projections -- this is science.

In contrast, the head-up-the-ass denialism that governs the Republican Party, and pretty much the entirety of American conservatism today, with respect anthropogenic global warming in particular but also with respect to science in general, is rooted in ideology, igorance, and bias, much of it theocratic.

But the latter, given America's corrupted two-party system and much of the country enthusiastically basking in abject ignorance and bias, is politically powerful enough to paralyze the U.S. from doing anything to respond to a mammoth crisis despite almost the entire scientific community reaching the same conclusions about global warming.

And that's not about to change anytime soon, what with Republicans pushing their heads further up their asses, not least to appeal to a base deeply rooted in various forms of reality-denialism. (Marco Rubio made the latest stupid comments, but he's the rule, not the exception.) Which only makes global catastrophe even more likely, and perhaps even inevitable. It's really just a matter of when.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Marco Rubio is not Mr. Science

By Mustang Bobby 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) declaimed on climate change on Sunday:

"I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate," he said on ABC's "This Week." "Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity, I do not agree with that."

ABC's Jonathan Karl pressed Rubio on his belief that humans don't have anything to do with global warming.

"But let me get this straight, you do not think that human activity, its production of CO2, has caused warming to our planet?" Karl asked.

"I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That's what I do not — and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy," Rubio responded.

To paraphrase Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Science is real whether you agree with it or not." And it's not a "notion."

As for his comment that doing something to stop climate change "will destroy our economy," that's not going to mean a lot when Miami Beach is under three feet of water and the cruise ships are docking at the Port of Albuquerque.

I know he's doing it just to ingratiate himself to the GOP base — ironically the base that is baking in drought in California and Arizona — but all this does is prove that he's a craven little suck-up and most assuredly not ready to be president no matter what he thinks.

P.S.: The last guy who made that claim based on his years in office was Dan Quayle, and look what happened to him.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Democrats are always black presidents

By Frank Moraes 

For a long time, I've puzzled over something. Why has the conservative treatment of Obama been almost exactly the same as the treatment of Bill Clinton. Yes, there have been little differences. For example, no one ever claimed that Clinton wasn't qualified to be president because he wasn't born in America. And that is a bit of overt racism that should have embarrassed the conservative movement far more than it did. I think the reason that it didn't cause more of a stir was that the media are loath to admit anything quite so disturbing as the fact that one of the major political parties in the United States owes most of its appeal to racism. And the white majority mostly wants to compartmentalize racism as nothing more than people who use the n-word. But other than this bit of clearly racist behavior, Obama and Clinton were treated the same.

What I mean by this is that both men were treated as though they were treated as though they were invalid. And conservatives seem to believe that either men are capable of anything. There are stories about how Obama is secretly gay married and of course who can forget that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster. What's more, during both presidencies, the conservatives have kept going with supposed scandals that not only don't come to anything, but don't even seem to be about anything. What was Whitewater about? What is Benghazi! about? It isn't just that I don't know. The people pushing these scandals don't seem to know either.

But leave it to Ta-Nehisi Coates to straighten out my thinking on this issue, "Bill Clinton Was Racialized, Too." He pointed out that the issue isn't so much who is leading the Democratic Party. The issue is that to the racists, the Democratic Party itself is the black party. It's the part that looks after the interests of "those people." He explained it:

Even Bill Clinton did not exist in a bubble of neutralized racism. He was a product of American politics in the post-civil-rights era, and thus had to cope with all the requisite forces. Racism does not merely concern itself with individual enmity, but with group interests. The men who killed [white civil rights activist] Andrew Goodman did not merely hate him individually, they hated what he represented. By the time Bill Clinton came to prominence, his party was closely associated with black interests.

Then he linked this to the very long history of white Americans seeing black Americans as invalid -- not "real" Americans. I was especially amazed to read that people argued that Frederick Douglass didn't actually write Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass because he was just an ignorant black man. This goes right along with claims that Obama didn't write Dreams from My Father. How far we've come! But the point is that anyone but white Europeans are not just The Other, but are beings who just can't be anything but unworthy outsiders.

So any Democratic president is going to be treated as an interloper. It doesn't matter if they get 90% of the vote. And as we saw after the 2008 election, a certain segment of the conservative movement doesn't accept voting. This is why ACORN was such a prime target for them. These people will never believe that the nation is changing. Instead, we get "black presidents" because ACORN and other nefarious groups are stealing elections. This is also why conservatives have embraced voter-identification laws. It isn't about winning future elections (for the base). It is about making sure that elections are honest because they just know that real America (white America) could never have a president who cared about those non-white aliens.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 12, 2014

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Is Spinning in her Grave. Laughing.

By Carl 

Who would ever have thought that the five stages of grief could apply to politics? And yet, Nick Gillespie (!) and The Daily Beast give us the first hard evidence that the GOP has reached acceptance:

Last month, even as President Obama touted the "8 million people" who signed up for individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act, he granted that the program was far from perfect -- or even complete. "There are going to be things that need to be improved," he told the press, insisting that there wouldn't be "any hesitation on our part to consider ideas that would actually improve the legislation."

OK then. Even though I think Obamacare is a truly epic mistake (more on that later), here are three obvious ways to make the president's signature legislative achievement better, cheaper, and more cost-effective.

The three ways?

Allow people to purchase plain vanilla "catastrophic health insurance": In other words, the same crap policies that insurance companies have been issuing for decades to people who don't give a damn that they'd file bankruptcy and stick us with their medical bills.

Force insurers to compete across state lines: In other words, nationalized health coverage is an improvement over "states first." Gillespie's not wrong here, of course, but the reason it wasn't included specifically is because idiots who like Gillespie's way of "libertarian" thinking would have been all over socialized medicine like white on rice. So great idea, really rotten politics.

Grow the supply of medical care: In other words, the market should determine pricing and the best way to encourage the market to determine pricing is to increase supply and let microeconomics hold sway. In theory, it makes sense. In a macroeconomic world, however, it's not supply that's going to determine how pricing is structured.

It's demand. The only way Obamacare works is if more and younger people start engaging in preventive care. Indeed, Gillespie even accounts for as much when he notes that there are effective barriers to competition in many states under the current system. There was actually an oversupply of doctors and medical facilities, and those facilities were concerned about protecting their profits. If they were truly inundated with patients (and not artificially creating over-demand), they’d welcome clinics and offices to shunt off some of their diminished capacity.

A large part of the problem is introduced as far back as medical school admissions. Indeed, to become a doctor requires you already have financial resources beyond those of your patients. That is not conducive to a classical capitalist solution to the delivery of healthcare. If anything, it's going to retard the growth of the medical industry as doctors will demand a certain level of comfort in their lifestyle, rather than accept the market for what it is (read that as income from practises).

Still, I should give kudos to Gillespie for finally admitting that Obamacare is not going to go away, even if somehow Marco Rubio manages to survive the primary and general election and steal the White House back for the GOP.

It's a start.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Se Delan: "Beneath the Sea"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I must really like Se Delan.* This is the third song I've posted from their fantastic debut album The Fall in just the past couple of weeks. (The others: "Tonight" and "Dirge.")

(*I really do.)

This is my favourite track off the album. Enjoy!


Bookmark and Share