Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wishing our readers a safe and happy Labor Day

Stay safe, enjoy the long weekend.

Give a few thoughts to the labor that produced the things you are enjoying, and remember the importance of valuing that effort -- and rewarding it fairly.

And might I add the OTHER holiday that is often overlooked that you might want to celebrate -- National Bacon Day.

From the STrib:


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Uh OH!

Make the dream a reality

GOP Lies and Hypocrisy

A Tale of Two Cities, and Two Educations

cross posted from MNPolitical Roundtable:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Those of you who did not sleep through English Lit will recognize that from Charles Dickens magnum opus, "A Tale of Two Cities".

Increasingly, we appear to live in Dickensian-like times. We have a growing chasm of wealth and income disparity. We have a huge disparity in Minnesota in education outcomes, that best of times and worst of times/best of educational outcomes and worst educational outcomes.

As a generality, white students have that best of times/ best of educational outcomes, while minorities have that worst of times/worst educational outcomes.

We see horrendous push-back from conservatives, who as a demographic appear to desire this extreme dichotomy. Certainly, they oppose efforts to correct it, and blame the victims of poverty for both the poverty and the poor educational outcome, while we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the two are inextricably linked.

We see the horrendous push-back from conservatives, and their inherent dishonesty and foolishness equally, when a public figure like Melissa Harris-Perry can say on television that we need to be willing to pay for public education, and to consider all the children in our communities as 'our children' when it comes to funding their education. From that, the knee-jerk nut jobs on the right did their Chicken Little 'the-sky-is-falling' dance, claiming that liberals were coming to take people's children away from them, and spinning some further crackpot tinfoil-hat worthy conspiracy theories about the U.N.

The reality is that when we improve the educational outcomes of those who currently are at the bottom of the national statistic, in a state where clearly, we KNOW HOW to educate, we can do better. What we seem to lack in forming the consensus to act to make those necessary improvements (including spending the money to do so as an investment in ALL children in the state) is an understanding of WHY we should do so.

We need, I would argue, a heavy handed slap upside conservative heads, in the form of an appeal to enlightened self-interest, since it is clear that other appeals to better angels are a total failure with the religious right and family values empty lip service crowd on the right.

I came across the perfect example of why it is we cannot afford to fail to educate ALL our children, and educate them very, very well. I came across it late at night, that most excellent exemplar, while listening to the BBC World Service Outlook broadcast. The broadcast was about 70 year old Dr. Donald Hopkins, who grew up at a time when schools were segregated, and when only three medical schools in the nation would accept and train an African-American to be a doctor. This radio broadcast details the amazing accomplishments of Dr. Hopkins brilliantly.

Here is a brief rather bare-bones bio on Hopkins, courtesy of good ol' Wikipedia:
Donald R. Hopkins (born 1941) is an American physician, a MacArthur Fellow and is the Vice President and Director of Health Programs at The Carter Center.[1] He graduated from Morehouse College with a B.S., from the University of Chicago with a Doctor of Medicine, and from the Harvard School of Public Health with a Master of Public Health. He studied at the Institute of European Studies, at the University of Vienna.
From 1984 to 1987, Hopkins was deputy director and acting director (1985) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thereafter, he was an assistant professor of tropical public health at Harvard School of Public Health.
He directed the Smallpox Eradication/Measles Control Program in Sierra Leone.[2]
He has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization.[3]
Throughout his career, Hopkins has received numerous awards, including the CDC Medal of Excellence, the Distinguished Service Medal of the U.S. Public Health Service, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1995 for his leadership in the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine.[4] His book, Princes and Peasants: Smallpox in History was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
Dr. Hopkins was also elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987 and has been a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene since 1965. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997, awarded the Medal of Honor of Public Health (Gold) by the country of Niger in 2004, and named a Champion of Public Health by Tulane University in 2005. Hopkins currently serves on the Board of Directors for the MacArthur Foundation.

What does that have to do with, say, poor graduation rates or failing literacy and math scores on Indian reservations or similar chasms of educational achievement among other minorities? It demonstrates why we cannot fail to develop ALL our students through an effective and rigorous education. When Hopkins was receiving his education, few black men could become doctors; our education system made it as difficult as possible, apparently on the assumption that black men (or women) were not suited, could not be talented or become accomplished, at the art and science of medicine or any other professional field requiring higher education.

We should pursue available quality education for everyone, through whatever means is effective, as an investment in our communities, our state, our nation and our world. Not because we have a problem with guinea worm in Minnesota, or even Small Pox, but because we have other public heath and private health problems, because we have other areas of science and industry and the humanities where we need to maximize ALL talents, for our own individual benefits as well as that larger, greater good.

It should be as unacceptable to lose or miss a gifted scientific mind and humanitarian character like Dr. Donald Hopkins as it is any suburban comparatively affluent white child. It is in OUR interests and to OUR benefit, as well as the interests and benefit of the children of Minnesota.

It is time to stop following the penny-wise pound-foolish short sighted, and too frequently just plain racist policies and politics of the right. It is time to apply our resources so as to regain our previous ground. We have not always been among the worst for minority educational outcomes. We can be among the best, again, if we focus the political will to do so. When and if we do, then Minnesota can be producing people who accumulate the equivalent of a life time of accomplishments like Dr. Hopkins, in whatever field they choose to pursue. For those who do not achieve such lofty goals, we are still better off if those who are failing now maximize their abilities than if they do not. We should be educating ALL our children, and that includes seeing they are not prevented from getting an education because of the interference of poverty.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King Was NOT a Republican, He DESPISED their Politics

The modern right tries in vain to claim they are the party of Lincoln.

The GOP was the party of Lincoln in the mid-1th century, when it was a party of liberals.

The GOP is not, and has not had anything in common with Lincoln, other than a misleading party name, for over a century.

What MLK thought in the 60's of conservatives, both the regressive Dixiecrats, and the conservative GOP, especially the division of the party represented by the extreme right, and the fringies like the Birchers, remains true today.  The right is racist.

From the MLK biography, by  way of Think Progress:
The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right. The “best man” at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade.
Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.
The Think Progress article went on to point out that King was pro-LBJ, noting:
David Garrow, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning biography of King, stated “It’s simply incorrect to call Dr. King a Republican.”
In 2008, King’s son Martin Luther King III said “It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican.” Garrow claimed there is little doubt King voted for Kennedy in 1960 and Johnson in 1964.
There was no justification for people of color to support conservative policies, not then, not now, not ever.  The efforts to deprive minorities and students and other groups that tend to vote Democratic of the vote will guarantee that the deservedly poor opinion held of conservatives continues for another extended period of time, possibly another 100 years.

King had a dream; conservatives have a nightmare vision of freedom, of the nation.

Contemplating Middle East Wars by the U.S.

GOP = Hypocrisy

A New Climate Change Idea - EXCELLENT

Monday, August 26, 2013

Women Gained the Right to Vote on August 26, 1920 years ago today, the 19th Amendment went into effect, giving women the right to vote.

I am so very pleased that women flexing their feminism, their power to participate in representative government, have so powerfully affected the outcome of recent elections.

We owe a tremendous vote of thanks to those 'Iron Jawed Angels' who struggled so that women today can vote.  Now to honor those brave, determined women, we need to guarantee that women are also paid the same as men for the same jobs, the same work, and that we do not lose ground on our reproductive rights as well.

Silly Conservatives

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cross-posted from MNPP

Gone to the Dogs, Burying Katherine Kersten like an Old Bone

photo from “Dog saves Washington homeless man’s life” article
Katherine Kersten is one of the worst writers I have read in the STrib, EVER.  She is sloppy, mean, and incapable of writing a well-researched cogent opinion.  This morning’s opinion piece is a perfect example of failed reasoning, poor research, and invalid premise.

Her most recent example of epic fail conservative thinking attempts to correlate things, that do not correlate even remotely, in any legitimate way, much less in a causal connection.

She begins in what I am coming to think of as the classic conservative fallacy that is some variation of “I saw something/ I know a guy”, with the observation that there are more people out walking their dogs than playing with their kid outside in their front yards.  Apart from the fact that I would dispute that this is true, and that Kersten assumes way to much from her own impressions, that leaves out a wide range of other explanations, ranging from people doing things with their kids in the back yard, at a park or other location, playing with their kids indoors, at the family cabin, etc.  Not seeing kids and parents playing in the front yard doesn’t mean what Kersten tries to twist it to mean.

Just because Kersten doesn’t personally observe families behaving in this subjective way, it does not set a valid platform for the rest of her reasoning — but it is an example of how flawed by lack of objective fact and reality her thinking is.  But highly partisan leaps to false conclusions is what Kersten does, and apparently the ONLY thing she is capable of doing based on her body of consistently shoddy work.

From there, Kersten goes on to claim that we now treat dogs like people, as a new trend, a change, again without demonstrating that any actual change has taken place, much less a valid equation of dogs with people other than a fluff piece in the STrib.  Now I particularly object to the term that some people use for their pets, ‘fur babies’,  because I do think people often tend to anthropomorphize their attributions of what dogs feel and think by imposing human equivalents on them.  The problem with this is that they get those interpretations wrong; it reflects a self-centered view combined with false assumptions.  I prefer my understanding of dogs to be of the Turid Rugaas variety, the renowned Norwegian canine behaviorist who received her well-earned fame by applying scientific methods to interpreting dog behavior.

Kersten writes:
The trend toward treating dogs like people confirms the increasingly central role that pets play in our lives. But does it also point to a subtle shift in the way we view our fellow human beings?

No, not particularly.  What we do have is an evolving and developing way of understanding animals sharing qualities like altruism, sacrifice, and justice that we had previously believed to be uniquely human.  What we have is an expanding field of work in the area of ethics, like the work done by Australian Peter Singer:
Peter Albert David Singer, AC (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher. He is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, preference utilitarian perspective. He is a major proponent of biocentrism.[1] He is known in particular for his book, Animal Liberation (1975), a canonical text in animal rights/liberation theory.

We are finding as our knowledge of ourselves and other organism grows that some of the distinctions we believed unique to ourselves are not so unique, ranging from tool using, to the perception of pain, to emotions like grief, to using conceptual language, and so on.  We now know that birds and people have similar language centers in their respective brains, relating to speech.  We know that primates like Koko the gorilla can learn and use American Sign Language, as well as use symbolic language like giving a name, and was capable of affectionate interspecies relationships in having a pet cat.

We are even learning more about aspects of plant life that we had previously believed inferior that shares some of those higher attributes, like altruism and communication capabilities.

So has our knowledge of the world expanded, which in turn blurs the earlier lines drawn between human beings and other species? Yes, and it should.  Does that mean this is an inferior development? No. It leads us to question the distinctions on which we base our arrogant assumptions of superiority versus the notion we are different from the rest of the species on this planet, and GOD made it that way, and told us to be as greedy and exploitive as we can.

In building her false argument, Kersten then goes on to write:
Consider a recent study by Richard Topolski of Georgia Regents University and his colleagues, which appeared in the journal Anthrozoos. Researchers asked respondents which they would save from a runaway bus: a dog (their own pet or someone else’s) or a human being. The conclusions were remarkable: Forty percent of respondents, including 46 percent of women, said they would save their dog over a foreign tourist.

Of course, what a read of the actual research shows is that is a simplistic and unrepresentative summary of the facts. The specifics of the scenario were quite vague, the differences in relationships resulted in different outcomes, and the explanation of WHY people answered the way they did had to do with comparative vulnerability – that a human being was better able to save themselves than a dog, because a human being had greater awareness and intelligence. This LITERALLY reflected a willingness to try to save the more vulnerable ‘under-dog’, than it did an undervaluing of human life. As noted in the Huff Po on the same research:
The research article, published in the journal Anthrozoos, also found that those who said they would choose their dog over the stranger had several disparate ways to defend their moral judgment. For example, just over 25 percent said that “the tourist should be smart enough to get out of the way,” while more than half simply said, “I love my pet.”

Note the words “MY pet”  (not just dog).  I doubt very much Kersten read the actual study, only a report of it — and probably a report from a right wing biased source.
From the abstract of the study:
Participants were also more likely to save their own pet over a human life than someone else’s pet over a human life.
That pretty much shoots down the generality that Kersten is attempting to generate.  I thought the part where she wails against diversity, which is all about accepting others as like ourselves, while accepting, even embracing the differences is key to viewing people who are foreign as people one would desire to save from an oncoming bus.  But those not-so-little contradictions don’t occur to Kersten.

What we really have is one of those horrible ‘who do you love best’ questions, like a child asking a parent if the child and a sibling fell out of the boat, which one would the parent save if they could save only one, ie – “Who do you like best”. People DO view pets as family members; heck, I have known a lot of dogs that, individually, I liked better than some individual people I could name. But that does not extrapolate to proof that I value dogs more, as a group or species, than human beings.
Then Kersten really wanders off into the primordial weeds of willful ignorance, bigotry, partisan hack ideology, and just plain stupidity, when she writes:
Would Americans have answered this question differently in the past? Most likely, yes. Why?
The answer lies embedded in words that used to be our nation’s common creed. Our founders held it self-evidently true that “all men” — unlike other animals — “are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The founders believed that human beings have a unique dignity and an elevated status over all other animals, because they are made in the image of God and are capable of choosing between good and evil. Our nation’s political system is founded on this view of human beings’ unique moral status.

Hold the phone here Kersten; this is a classic – and poorly used – authority argument.  The reality is that the Founding Fathers rejected earlier beliefs in favor of the more scientific thinking of the Enlightenment, and the leading minds of the American Revolution were frequently NOT Christian, but at best Deists.  The founders would NOT have rejected everything new that we have learned since the 1600s; they continually explored and questioned traditional assumptions.  So, unless you want to stop at 1776, and not accept the progress that SCIENCE has brought to us, you don’t get to selectively stop time at the founding fathers.  That is also cherry-picking, where you distort an argument by not fully presenting the facts.

There is NOTHING that indicates, had they had the information available to them that we have used to move forward with thinking, scientific thinking, philosophical thinking, moral and ethical thinking, that our Founding Fathers would think differently than we do now.

But heck, that plays well to the anti-intellectual, anti-science, simplistic, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts /I want to believe what I want to believe no matter what reality shows thinking of the far right.
Kersten then goes on:
Our society still pays lip service to the Declaration of Independence and its vision of human rights and equality. But we increasingly reject the Judeo-Christian framework that undergirds it in favor of scientific materialism, which views the universe as a mindless swirl of matter and energy and reserves no special place for human beings.

Kersten, let’s back up your crazy-bus here, and  note that in the JUDEO part, the earliest roots of that Judeo-Christian thing you are yammering on about? In Judaism, dogs can go to heaven, just like people:
Religious texts hold that Yahweh, the god of Israel, did bestow the breath of life into the animals that flourished in the Garden of Eden, suggesting that each non-human animal too can become nephesh, or a “living soul.”
And of course, in Buddhism, one of the world’s great religions:
The doctrine of rebirth additionally holds that any human can be reborn as an animal, and any animal may be reborn as a human, reinforcing the inter-connectivity of all life.
Then we have Kersten now wandering beyond the weeds, deeper into the swamp and sinks into the quicksand or far right wing extremist stupidity:
As our belief in universal truth and a higher good wanes, “diversity” has become the central criterion by which we measure the quality of our social institutions, from workplaces to universities. For years, Americans in all walks of life have been exhorted to “celebrate” diversity, and to value mere differences above all else.
But the Topolski survey on dogs vs. people suggests how superficial this standard is, and how ineffective the campaign to instill it has been. The survey found that, in our brave new relativistic world, the foreigner — the one who differs most from us — falls to last place in the hierarchy of value, beneath our dogs.

First of all, there is no way to objectively compare thinking of ‘earlier Americans’ with modern ones, they are dead.  So we don’t know how they would respond, and Kersten’s rationale is a total failure.  We  ALSO don’t know if the people who were queried in any study were liberals, conservatives, or centrists, OR what their religious views were.  The Sapolsky piece  in the WSJ  observed:
We can extend empathy to another organism and feel its pain like no other species. But let’s not be too proud of ourselves. As this study and too much of our history show, we’re pretty selective about how we extend our humaneness to other human beings.

Yes, WORLD HISTORY shows we have been very selective in how we extend our humaneness to other human beings, not just recent developments in  philosophy and political thinking.  You know what else is well documented?  That people who are abusive to animals are more likely to be abusive to people, and that people who are kind to animals, empathetic to them, are more likely to be kind and empathetic to other human beings.   So it is a false dichotomy to pose and either /or choice between dogs and humans for decency and kindness, and compassion.

And as to the us versus them complaint of Ms. Kersten? Really? Has there been a political movement that has demonized others to the extent that conservatives do SO many in us-versus-them thinking?  Is there any comparison for the paranoia and conspiracy theories of the “those “Others” who are not like us are coming to get us” rationales?  I can’t think of any group that expends more time, energy and effort in hating other groups of people than the way conservatives demonize  people over sexual orientation, minority people, immigrants, people of religious beliefs different from their own, people based on jobs and job-related organizations like Unions, or who make derogatory assumptions based on a socioeconomic difference.

If Katherine Kersten were faced with saving a foreign person, dressed in ‘Muslim-appearing clothes’ quote from Juan Williams on Fox TV, the one that got him fired, I not only believe, based on her writing, that she would not save such a person — a foreigner — from an on-coming bus, I think she would have a hard time controlling the impulse to push him or he under it, as so many conservatives try to do.  What does that say about right wing thinking? It says it is full of prejudice and hate and fear of ‘foreigners’.
“…But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

I don’t get nervous. I don’t think of them as ‘other’.  I tend to think that a person, a human being who is dressed differently from the majority of those around them might be feeling isolated and even anxious.  I think of them as needing AND DESERVING of compassion and kindness.

Conservatives have NOT shown themselves to be willing to extend themselves to save anyone else, people OR dogs or other species.  They have made ZERO effort to combat the high death and rate of suffering in the United States do to our broken and failed health care system.  They have shown zero concern for the poor. They have shown they would rather award corporate welfare than keep children and old people from being hungry.  They have shown a willingness to exploit their fellow human beings without regard to life, liberty OR the pursuit of happiness.  And they have shown, possibly the worst of all, given their yammering lip service to our Constitution and Founding Fathers, that they respect neither, when they engage in election tampering and voter suppression.

Kersten just demonstrated again the failed logic that the right uses to try to avoid confronting their many failures as human beings, particularly the failure to be sapient, as in homo sapiens.  Shame shame shame on the STrib for giving this woman a platform for promoting willful ignorance, and for – presumably – paying her to do so.

Colin Powell had it wrong...

what it REALLY says is that the right hates and fears certain people, that it has no values or ethical standards of integrity in being so willing to deprive people of their right to vote, and that they hate and fear actual representative government.

But Colin Powell is right about one thing - the right is deliberately evil when they enact laws like these.

Just sayin'

He left out a certain stripe of reality tv stars of the largely 'suth-run' variety.

The Party of Stupid, compounding their ignorance and bigotry by being a tea bagger

Stop the CONSERVATIVE madness

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The right promised a focus on jobs, but they lied, and reverted to their backward culture war bigotry instead - another voter bait and switch scam

Dear Mayor Filner

You are not a victim.

Let me repeat that; YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM.

There is no lynch mob.

YOU and only you made the decision to settle rather than have your day in court.

The things you are accused of you are admitting you did, by implication at the very least, by settling.  Those things ARE SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Those things are NOT, even remotely, the way normal people initiate personal relationships.  Those actions of which you are accused are the way perverts behave, the way sexual predators behave.

You have victimized city employees and citizens doing business with and for the city.

Shame on you.  Now shut up and go away.  If you have any honor, you won't take the city's money to do so.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Did Brodkorb's lawyers join him in the muck?

Cross posted from MNPP
As noted in the STrib, in an article by Jim Ragsdale, “Secret list was released in error, Brodkorb’s lawyers say” “Senate’s legal team wants suit tossed, claims airing was intentional.”, Ragsdale gets nearly a dozen paragraphs out of the oops! that cost one of the lawyers on Brodkorb’s team his job.

I can only hope the lawyering by the attorneys for the Senate are doing a better job than claiming this leak was intentional.  I can’t imagine Brodkorb was ponying up sufficient lucre for the lawyer who left to fall on his sword for Brodkorb’s advantage, or that in court, it will even prove to be much of an advantage.

At best, it is unlikely that Brodkorb has much on anyone that is not either so old, and so different as not to pertain, or is highly speculative — essentially gossip, rather than proven fact.  It is the absence of strong supporting fact that is at issue.  What I found more intriguing is that Ragsdale noted the law firm notified SOME BUT NOT OTHERS on the list of their inclusion, but ONLY after the leak occurred.

Why not notify them ALL, and well before the problematic filing, if pressuring some of these politicians was the intent? I don’t think he was just trying to keep them in suspense, to see who he would name – and who he wouldn’t.

Brodkorb sued and in a deposition gave the names of 10 former senators, one current senator and six staff members who he alleged had similar relationships but were not fired. That list was supposed to remain private or “under seal,” as opposed to other motions and arguments that are filed publicly.
Calls from two media outlets — the Associated Press and Minnesota Public Radio — alerted lawyers that the electronic files had been seen by reporters during their brief online life. Attorney Phil Villaume, then Brodkorb’s attorney, said he tried to persuade a federal magistrate judge in an evening conference call to prohibit news organizations from publishing the names on the list.
The judge, Arthur Boylan, declined to do so. A week later, when the AP was preparing a story on the list, Villaume renewed his request. Boylan said blocking the story by court order would constitute “prior restraint,” according to an account prepared by the Brodkorb side. In the subsequent AP story, reporters discussed the importance of the list to Brodkorb’s legal claim and contacted some of those on the list but decided not to reveal the names.
Villaume has since withdrawn from the case. Lawyers for the Senate have argued that the release of such titillating details was of a piece with the public, political nature of Brodkorb’s claim. “It is a pattern of behavior that suggests a deliberate strategy of trying this case before the media rather than the Court, without regard to innocent people hurt along the way,” the Senate lawyers claimed.
It is implausible that Brodkorb’s attorneys would imitate his style, just because he hired them. There are too many ways in which they are held accountable – as the departure of one of the attorneys shows.

But it is entirely plausible that Brodkorb himself has continued his old sleazy ways in what happened to Laura Brod, with the boudouir shots and the City Pages.  And Brodkorb was not even attempting to be anonymous, but clearly demonstrating his old sharp elbows when ribbing Julianne Ortman, as was previously noted on this blog by one of my colleagues HERE.

Brodkorb is happy to be nasty, for money, or just because he is who he is, to try to bully, or intimidate.  That does not conflate to anyone else he employs being as sleazy as he is.  Clearly Brodkorb lost the moral high ground a long time ago.  And now he seems to be losing the battle for everything else.  As he is out of the mainstream of MN GOP politics, sooner or later he has to run out of mud/ammunition.  That makes for a pathetic mean-spirited little piggy, and one who is spending all of his nickels, dimes and pennies in his little belly-bank.

More Friday Fun

Friday Fun Day - from the Beeb (not Bieber, the BBC!)

It is worth noting, also a victory for feminists everywhere, and for all of us who live in the U.S. --- the actual first rider to finish was a woman from Texas, who lost her place as winner due to a technicality, which added a time penalty to her first place arrival.  This woman, below, was declared the winner.

A couple of items from 'the Beeb' aka the BBC world service, of interest:

Lara Prior-Palmer

12 August 2013 Last updated at 11:16 GMT

British rider Lara Prior-Palmer wins world's longest horse race

Lara Prior-Palmer has become the first Briton, first female rider and the youngest person to win the world's longest horse race.
The 1,000km Mongol Derby took riders across Mongolia.
American Devan Horn crossed the finish line first but her horse later failed a veterinary inspection.
"I can't really believe it," said Prior-Palmer, 19, who is the niece of British equestrian and Olympic silver medallist Lucinda Green.

What is the Mongol Derby

  • 1000km horse race across Mongolia
  • 30 riders compete
  • Race takes in a mammoth network of 25 horse stations across the Mongolian steppe
  • Riders change their semi-wild Mongolian horses at each station approximately 40km apart
Prior-Palmer, from Hampshire, added: "I came into the first station last because my horse was so slow and I had to walk him in.
"I thought that would be the end of my Mongol Derby.
"I knew that there were 30 people and nearly all of those 30 wanted to win and I really just wanted to finish.
"If you compare my first few days to my last few days, I was going so much slower and suddenly I just got the hang of it and how to ride the horses and what to do to catch up with the rest."
The race, which is in its fifth edition, was won in six days and eight hours and is a recreation of Genghis Khan's ancient postal system - a mammoth network of 25 horse stations across the Mongolian steppe.
Riders change their semi-wild Mongolian horses at each station - approximately 40km apart - and stay with the local nomadic herding families that run the stations and provide the horses. a separate news item, but just as impressive for feminists, and for the U.S.:

U.S. Teenager Is Youngest Ever To Pass Britain's Bar Exams

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 1:23 pm
At 18 years old, American Gabrielle Turnquest has become the youngest person to pass Britain's Bar exams, qualifying her as a barrister. Turnquest is a native of Windermere, Fla. She studied for the exams at Britain's University of Law.
From London, NPR's Larry Miller reports for our Newscast unit:
"The average age to gain a barrister's qualification is 27. Turnquest says she's honored to be the youngest person to become a British barrister. Due to her parent's heritage, she is also called to the Bahamas bar.
"Turnquest graduated from Liberty University in Virginia at aged 16. That school's youngest-ever graduate, Turnquest says she'll return to America in the fall to sit for the U.S. multistate bar exam. Her objective is to specialize in fashion industry law. Also becoming a barrister is her sister Kandi. She's 22."
"I was not aware at the time what the average age was," Turnquest tells Britain's The Telegraph, discussing her new place in the history of Britain's 600-year-old legal system. "I didn't fully realize the impact of it."


It takes a better person without a gun to stop gun violence

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tsk Tsk Tsk = GOP, and NOW NRA = MEGA-HYPOCRISY!!!!!!

About that fear-mongering over gun ownership data bases, WITHOUT CONSENT?

Do YOU trust the NRA or anyone else compiling this kind of data base on you, especially if you are not a member? Do you trust the NRA not to get subpoenaed for this data base, not to get hacked, not to SELL it?

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Sack Calls It like It IS

Filner should resign; he's blow away any chance he had to do something good for that community.  He may be sick or just a disgusting human being by choice. But his behavior precludes continuing as mayor.

Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fox News = right wing joke

Different on the outside, different in their behavior

GOP = Hypocrisy, combined with ugly bigotry and racism

I have to wonder if the right will emphasize Cruz's name - which is not 'Ted', but Raphael, and if HIS father's origins will get the same treatment from the right that President Obama's father did; because Raphael Bienvenido Cruz was born in Cuba, and fought with Fidel Castro to overthrow Batista. Do you think, just maybe, the right will go after Cruz with birther conspiracies, or call him a communist revolutionary, planted here to undermine the United States?

Nah, the GOP are hypocrites. Although I would not be surprised if some of them went after Cruz for being hispanic rather than European.

Today, from Al Gore to Al Jazeera America

At the beginning of 2013, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, owners of Current TV sold their cable network to the royal family of Qatar, to become Al Jazeera America.  The sale was in January, the premiere of the actual new network will be this afternoon.  The network reaches a potential audience of approximately 50 million viewers.

Live Current programming ended last week, with continuously running documentaries, one of the other staples of Current TV, filling in the schedule until Tuesday afternoon, August 20th, when new live Al Jazeera America programming takes over.  The Hollywood Reporter notes that will be about 14 hours of live programming each day.

The Hollywood Reporter notes:
There will be plenty of familiar faces. Nearly 850 employees have been hired to staff 12 newly opened U.S. bureaus. AJAM's flagship show, America Tonight, is billed as an hourlong current affairs newsmagazine hosted by CNN veteran Joie Chen. CNN's Starting Point anchor, Soledad O'Brien, will be a special correspondent for the show and will produce documentaries for the network.
Other weeknight shows include Consider This, a talk show hosted by former ABC News correspondent Antonio Mora, and Real Money, anchored by former CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi. There will also be the social media-driven The Stream, co-hosted by Lisa Fletcher, formerly of ABC News, and Wajahat Ali, a playwright and essayist who appeared on the Al Jazeera English version of the show.
The documentary unit will be headed by Kathy Davidov, formerly vp production at National Geographic Television. The channel also boasts an investigative team headed by journalist Ed Pound, recently a staff correspondent at National Journal. The headquarters and broadcast center of AJAM is on West 34th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.
And, as also noted by the Hollywood Reporter, by building their news network from the ground up, as one of the few entities that is expanding rather than contracting their news resources, and investing in actual reporting by professionals, they are the exception rather than the norm:
"[Al Jazeera America] has formidable resources overseas, bolstered by Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic. "There are 70 bureaus overseas in addition to the 12 in the U.S.," said O'Brian in the conference call. "It gives us an amazing competitive advantage to be able deploy resources into places that our competitors really don't have the ability to do so as easily."
I doubt that Al Jazeera America will appeal to the homophobic and isolationists conservative segment of the U.S. who distrust everything foreign, especially from predominantly Muslim countries. But given enough time, they could make a considerable impact, potentially, in programming share.  At the very least, they appear to be willing to make an in-depth try.

It is worth noting here, in the larger context of the controversies over domestic spying, that our stat counter account has shown that penigma gets checked out regularly by Homeland Security if we cite any part of Al Jazeera English as a source or feature content from them, despite that content frequently featuring some very good coverage.  But then we also get checked out by other sources from the political right when we run commentary on ALEC, the Koch Brothers, etc. who seem to keep very careful tabs on their critics.  And to be fair, when I look at what some of those Homeland Security 'hits' are on, it is not always new content, but is (with surprising frequency) on this old post, about the vintage cartoon character Deputy Dawg

Maybe, like the broadcast networks do, to gain American trust and curiosity, Al Jazeera America should run some retro cartoons, if only on Saturday morning.  It could only broaden their appeal, and work to gain the trust of Americans. - perhaps more so than serious programming.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Short Swing on the Death Penalty

cross posted from MN PP:

Two heinous mass shooters (alleged) are facing the death penalty, with court activity on their cases this week - Nidal Hasan for killing 13 and wounding 30 others in the Texas mass shooting at Fort Hood in November 2009 , and James Holmes in the Aurora Colorado mass shooting at a theater in July of 2012 where he killed 12 and injured 70. Holmes is pleading innocent by reason of insanity, while Nidal Hasan appears to be trying to achieve martyrdom by the death penalty through deliberately sabotaging his own case.

We do not have the death penalty in Minnesota, and have not since it was abolished after the botched hanging of William Williams in Minnesota in 1906. The William Williams case and the reasons for this being the pivotal case for the change in the laws, is especially interesting. It involved a homosexual relationship which received public sympathy. Williams entered a plea of not just insanity, but temporary insanity. There was a law in place which enacted censorship, which was illegally circumvented, leading to press coverage which was key to the public rejection of the death penalty when the Ramsay County Sheriff miscalculated the length of rope used to hang Williams, resulting in a botched hanging.

As noted in MNOpedia:
Williams used "emotional insanity" as his defense, saying that alcohol and an argument made him temporarily insane. After hearing readings of his intimate letters with Johnny Keller, including one where Williams threatened the boy, the court rejected this claim. The jury found Williams guilty of first degree murder, which meant that he would be executed.

Many Minnesotans were opposed to capital punishment at the turn of the twentieth century, but the state legislature was not able to repeal it. Governor John A. Johnson was against capital punishment but said he would enforce the law. Williams was set to be hanged on February 13, 1906. As required by the John Day Smith law, passed in 1889, his execution would happen in the middle of the night, with no journalists present.

The 1889 law, named after its sponsor, Representative John Day Smith, was passed because Minnesota had a long history of rowdy executions, including executions by lynch mobs that worked outside of the legal system. By suppressing information about executions, the Smith law was supposed to keep the public calm when executions occurred.
And as noted in the Death Penalty Information Center:
Minnesota has seen a number of unsuccessful attempts to reinstate the death penalty since 1911, including bills in 1913, 1915, 1919, 1921, 1923, 1927, 1931, 1933, 1937, 1974, 1975, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005. Many of these efforts arose out of high-profile homicides. For example, the 2003 reinstatement bills were introduced in response to a triple murder in Long Prairie, Minnesota. Nevertheless, due to the efforts of legislators and organizations such as The Advocates for Human Rights and Minnesotans Against the Death Penalty (MNADP), attempts at reinstatement have thus far failed to pass the legislature.
In Minnesota, attempting to reintroduce the death penalty has been a largely partisan issue, promoted by the right. In 2003, it was last promoted by T-Paw and the Republicans.

From the one, the only, the gifted Steve Sack at the Strib

GOP Hypocrisy and Greed