Saturday, July 30, 2016

Democratic Conventions in Philly, 1948 and 2016: some things change, too many stay the same

A h/t to TPT's Almanac for the reminder of this very famous HHH speech.

As we have seen, at their respective conventions, Republicans have not changed, and the conservatives among them - the only members they tolerate after repeated purges - are still opponents of civil rights and pro-discrimination.  Democrats are still the inclusive progressives, making speeches that hold up well across history.

It will be an embarrassment to conservatives as historians look back at this period that they were so regressive and so divisive, embracing all matters of discrimination and exclusion.  President Obama echoed Hubert Humphrey's speech in Philadelphia in 1948 when he spoke about the arc of history.  It is a particular shame that we must continue to rely on our judicial branch to overturn voter suppression laws, like those which were just overturned recently in Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas and North Carolina.  Conservatives are still trying to keep minorities from voting -- and shame on them for it.

Per the accompanying Youtube notes, this speech ranked 66 in the top 100 speeches of the 20th century.


Additional bits of history -- this speech, like the ones this past week, were made in Philadelphia, 68 years ago. At that convention, instead of Bernie supporters, Conservative democrats walked out in protest to the addition of a civil rights plank that would correct the wrongs of Jim Crow. This makes it all the more poignant that this convention was addressed by a sitting black president. Moderates did not want to upset the conservative 'Dixie-crats', but liberal democrats pushed the civil rights position. Wikipedia provides the details:
In response, all 22 members of the Mississippi delegation, led by Governor Fielding L. Wright and former Governor Hugh L. White, walked out of the assembly. Thirteen members of the Alabama delegation followed, led by Leven H. Ellis. The bolted delegates and other Southerners then formed the States' Rights Democratic Party ("Dixiecrats"), which nominated Strom Thurmond for President and Wright for Vice President. ...In the absence of three dozen Southern delegates who walked out of the convention with Thurmond, 947 Democrats voted to nominate Truman as their candidate (against 263 for Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of Georgia).
We have seen a variety of sources, from the conservative Wall Street Journal to Think Progress acknowledge that conservatives opposed civil rights, regardless of party, while the progressive wing of the Democratic party spearheaded the legislation in cooperation with liberal Republicans like the gravel-voiced Everett Dirksen of Illinois.  From Think Progress: simply highlights the fact that politics in 1964 were not ideologically aligned. The main block of support for white supremacy was a group of Southern Democrats, most of whom were very conservative on all issues, and all of whom were very conservative on the issue of race. They were joined in their support for white supremacy by a smaller block of non-southern conservative Republicans. Conservative movement organs like The National Review supported white supremacy, as did Barry Goldwater who was the leading conservative politician of the time. It’s a very interesting historical fact about the United States of America that for most of the twentieth century conservative southerners generally belonged to the Democratic Party. But it’s also true that if you think of American politics in terms of the history of ideological struggle, civil rights is clearly an issue on which the liberals were right and over time conservatives came around to that view.
After the Cleveland and Philadelphia conventions this month, we can see that at least the GOP is undergoing a similar fracturing process between extreme conservatives, and moderates who are consistently repudiating the excesses of the majority right represented at the convention.

Now that we have seen the increasingly radical and more extreme right have attempted to hijack credit for civil rights, it is worth noting where the votes came from, and whom, to pass the subsequent legislation that was drafted by Hubert Humphrey as a continuation of his efforts in 1948.(wikipedia again):
Note: "Southern", as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.
The original House version:
  • Southern Democrats: 7–87   (7–93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–10   (0–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145–9   (94–6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138–24   (85–15%)
The Senate version:
If the same vote were held in Cleveland, or in the Republican majority House and Senate, I would expect a vote that mirrored the conservative Southern Democrats and Republicans of 1968.

It is also worth noting that the right is STILL making many of the same arguments that went through the courts following enactment of the legislation. For example, Senator Rand Paul has promoted the position that businesses should have the right to discriminate for ANY reason, as a right of private property ownership. Humphrey was in the Senate representing Minnesota in cooperation with President Lyndon Johnson at the time this legislation, a direct extension and continuation of the policies in the 1948 speech,  Again, Wikipedia has an excellent summation:
There were white business owners who claimed that Congress did not have the constitutional authority to ban segregation in public accommodations. For example, Moreton Rolleston, the owner of a motel in Atlanta, Georgia, said he should not be forced to serve black travelers, saying, "the fundamental question…is whether or not Congress has the power to take away the liberty of an individual to run his business as he sees fit in the selection and choice of his customers". Rolleston claimed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a breach of the Fourteenth Amendment and also violated the Fifth and Thirteenth Amendments by depriving him of "liberty and property without due process". In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), the Supreme Court held that Congress drew its authority from the Constitution's Commerce Clause, rejecting Rolleston's claims. Resistance to the public accommodation clause continued for years on the ground, especially in the South. When local college students in Orangeburg, South Carolina attempted to desegregate a bowling alley in 1968, they were violently attacked, leading to rioting and what became known as the "Orangeburg massacre." Resistance by school boards continued into the next decade, with the most significant declines in black-white school segregation only occurring at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s in the aftermath of the Green v. County School Board of New Kent County (1968) court decision.
In view of the acceptance of White Supremacists, John Birchers and others that were rejected by mainstream conservatives in 1948 and 1968 it is well past time that the right came out of the darkness of bigotry and regressive politics. It is time the right stopped trying to turn the clock back to Jim Crow and worse.  It is time the right stopped their concerted efforts to make this a country that only acknowledges and gives preference and advantage to heterosexual white christian males (and even then mostly protestant males).

We've waited way to long already as a nation, especially a nation in the 21st century, not the 19th or shameful first half of the 20th.  THIS is just part of what makes the 2016 election so significant.

Friday, July 29, 2016

From the Strib's brillian talent, Steve Sack, a little more Friday Fun


Friday Fun-Day

Trump Tax-ack

The speculation on why Donald Trump won't release his tax returns is growing.  There are a lot of reasons circulated, from showing how he stiffed charities to how little money he really has, to how little he pays in taxes (if anything), to his Rusky financial involvements, among others.

I vote all of the above; none of them are mutually exclusive. But he does appear to be hiding things.

That whole audit excuse is bogus, as the head of the IRA came out and said this week.  Also, the head of the IRS made it clear that the only reason anyone is audited that many years are highly suspicious tax returns.

An anonymous GOP donor offered $5 million to charity if Trump would release his tax returns -- which mirrors Trump's birther offer to the president.  Wonder how it feels to be on the other side of that offer?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

science deniers....

I believe Stephen Colbert already covered this under 'Truthiness'

Truthiness - when something isn't true but it FEEEEELs true (previously covered by the term delusional). Because clearly, facts do not matter to the right; reality does not matter to the right. Ugly delusions matter to the right.

Think Progress beat me to it -- debunking Bill O'Reilly's bullshit about White House-building slaves being well fed and housed

We consistently see the right try to justify or sanitize the history of slavery.  For some reason - presumably that so many of them are still racists who support policies that step on minorities - they like to pretend that slavery was not a bad thing.

We saw it from crazy eyes, crazy ideas detached from reality Michele Bachmann, we see it routinely from Faux News.  It's a right wing dishonest, lying 'thing'.

Here is the latest from Fox Not-News Bill O'Reilly, anti-historian:

  I have a particular problem with this from O'Reilly:
“Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802.”
Slaves were never 'hired'; they were leased from slave owners who pocketed the $$$ from their labor. And slavery used in building in Washington DC for government projects continued WELL beyond 1802. For a former history teacher, O'Reilly is an epic failure for factual accuracy And here is the latest from Think Progress debunking the happy slavery myth:
Liam Hogan, a historian whose work focuses on slavery, noted on Twitter that O’Reilly’s comments are reminiscent of “how chattel slavery was defended by slave owners and pro-slavery interests.” To cite just one example, a U.S. history primer put together by the Independence Hall Association notes that “defenders of slavery argued that by comparison with the poor of Europe and the workers in the Northern states, that slaves were better cared for. They said that their owners would protect and assist them when they were sick and aged, unlike those who, once fired from their work, were left to fend helplessly for themselves.” The reality, Hogan added, is that slavery were “treated like livestock.” Hogan cited comments made by First Lady Abigail Adams in 1800, who wrote that White House slaves were in fact “half fed, and destitute of clothing.” “What is O’Reilly’s claim of ‘well fed’ and ‘decent lodgings’ based upon?” Hogan wrote. “What are his sources? What is his evidence?” In an email to ThinkProgress, Hogan said that based on his study of the literature, “I can’t see any basis… to justify a claim of [slaves] being ‘treated well.’ It’s kind of oxymoronic in the context of man as chattel property.”
  So yes, the White House and a good bit of Washington DC's older government buildings were in fact built by slaves, and NO, they were not well housed and fed, and yes, slavery was still horrible and inhumane. The conservatives lie lie lie about our history, trying to sanitize it and to justify the bad behavior of racist white conservatives, then and now.

Better late than never? How about better never? (for either of them)

That Trump is a con artist, deadbeat businessman, and now apparently made his money by mob connections is not new. It's been known in the business world for a long time. So Mitt -- good on you for calling out Trump, but WHY did you pal around with him as a prominent supporter LAST election cycle?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We continue to see the jealous RNC apply a hypocritical double standard -- so typically conservative

Why Trump and Putin are alike, not just aligned, and therefore dangerous

From Raw Story: Street graffiti depicting Donald Trump
passionately locking lips with Russian President Vladimir Putin
went viral on social media in Lithuania Friday,
appearing to show concern over the US White House hopeful’s
attitude toward Moscow.
The artwork in the capital Vilnius alludes to a famous 1979 photograph
of then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
kissing communist East German president and ally Erich Honecker.
Vlad Putin is notorious for not only his corruption in association with Russian oligarchs and mobsters, but for taking revenge on those who oppose him. Nothing short of their destruction suffices his petty vengeance seeking and ambition.  Further, Puti has gone a long way towards wrecking the Russian economy, and towards a redistribution of wealth to the rich that is among the worst in the world. His track record with a free press is nothing to brag about either.  Putin is an old style Stalin-esque dictator, with Stalin being one of his heroes he hopes to sanitize and reinstall as a national hero.

The sad thing is that every one of the same characteristics typify Donald J. Drumpf. The best that might be said of Trump is that he is "Putin light"; as in he’d be worse if he could get away with it in the US of A.

The New York Times summed it up in January 2016:
GOING into 2016, Vladimir V. Putin is a very different politician from the one he was a year ago. His most significant changes have little to do with what he has done in the last 12 months. Instead they were wrought by the justice systems of two foreign countries — Britain and Spain — and a slew of Russian and Western journalists and activists. Thanks to all these disparate efforts, there has emerged a vivid, comprehensive and, most important, public picture of allegations of corruption and connections to organized crime that in the past had been the province of rumors or maverick investigations publishers wouldn’t dare to print.
In May, Spanish prosecutors petitioned a Madrid court for permission to charge 27 people with money laundering, after a giant decade-long investigation that implicated, among others, highly placed Russian officials, some of whom have business or property in Spain. The 488-page complaint names a sitting member of the Russian Parliament, a former prime minister and a former defense minister. It draws numerous connections between the presumed ringleader, Gennady Petrov, an influential figure in St. Petersburg, and Mr. Putin’s inner circle.
Another corruption probe that unfolded during 2015 implicates Mr. Putin’s own family. Early in the year, the Russian business publication RBC released an investigation into a vast university expansion project, undertaken on a giant section of land that belongs partly to Moscow State University and partly to the Russian state. The report meticulously documented the sheer scale and scope of the project, and the involvement of many of Russia’s most prominent state and private business managers. But it gingerly stepped around identifying the woman in charge, who had declined to be interviewed. RBC would say only that she was called Katerina Tikhonova — a very common Russian name — and that she had been seen in public with Kirill Shamalov, the son of a close friend of Mr. Putin’s.
 Yet another investigation released last month revealed apparent links between the Russian prosecutor general and the country’s most notorious organized crime family. Such allegations have become so prominent in the public conversation lately, even in Russia, that they were raised with Mr. Putin on Dec. 17, during his highly scripted annual news conference.
But that Mr. Putin had to face such accusations at all shows that a new understanding about Russia is taking hold: Russia is a mafia state — not only because it is run like the mafia, but also because it is run by organized crime.
The following day the journalist Oleg Kashin posted on his blog a piece titled, “It’s Her.” Katerina Tikhonova, he wrote, was Mr. Putin’s daughter. The president’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, responded with a non-denial denial. “I don’t know who that is,” he said. “Many girls have been passed off as Putin’s daughters.” Then Reuters, in a large investigation of Russian corruption it published at the end of the year, reported that Ms. Tikhonova, 29, was indeed Mr. Putin’s daughter, that Mr. Shamalov was her husband and that both were billionaires.
Putin is reputed to have amassed a fortune in the range of $40 billion; he has begun to invest some of that ill-gotten gain in Trump properties.  And in return, Trump is proposing to clear NATO out of the way for Putin.  Trump has reportedly sought out Russian mob money from Putin, because his businesses, far from being successful, are no longer welcomed by American banks.  Putin is reported to use the Russian security and intelligence services to control the mafia for the advantage of himself, family and associates, something that we might expect from Trump, should he become president.
Trump in his own right is reported to have close ties with the US mafia for decades.  He is reputed to have only succeeded to the extent he has in the building and casino sectors by paying off politicians not to look to closely.   As Politico reported in May:
Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?
In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.
…In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”
I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.
No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.
This can’t have been news to the GOP when they allowed Trump to be first a candidate and then nominee for president.  It should get interesting as the post-convention candidate oppo-advertising picks up.  It will remain to be seen if Trump proceeds to sue, or at the very least to seek an injunction.  I would speculate that not even the worst of the right wing judiciary would be amenable to earning a reputation for giving mobsters legal cover.

Sadly, unlike the rest of the world, too many US citizens are blithely oblivious to any knowledge of world leaders or other countries.  I am consistently shocked at how few people can correctly identify key American figures – like being able to name the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, or even know how many Justices sit on it.  It is therefore less surprising to me that so many people in the US are unable to name the head of government in Canada to our north or Mexico to our south.  I consider it a plus if they reliably know where those two countries are, given how few people know where most of the states in the US go on a map.  So it should come as no surprise that Putin’s reputation for mob activities is ignored or unknown by the likes of Faux News and other right wing media.  We can sit back to wait for their feigned surprise or fake outrage that will eventually come after their robust denials become unsustainable.

The GOP should be writhing in shame; I doubt they have the collective conscience to do so.  It should be particularly fun to watch the Evangelicals scramble to address their claims of how religious Trump is, how god fearing moral.  I guess we no longer need wonder why Trump goes to the former Soviet Union eastern bloc to find two of his three wives…

Trump claims that he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would still be enthusiastically behind him.  Let’s put it to the test how well they like a mobbed up candidate for president.  Let’s begin that re-education of the right, right here.  When it becomes undeniable that he is dirty, will he quit before the election — and then what?

I doubt any current polls are taking into consideration this kind of news coverage affecting the election in November.

Monday, July 25, 2016

This is incorrect; it should read bankruptcies - 6

He also just lost a big law suit in Scotland, one of many lawsuits he fought and lost.

Funniest comment of the night re the Democratic Convention

Schmidt wins the commentary award on Michelle Obama's speech. " A speech for the ages, so good we may hear it again at the next Republican Convention".

Ya gotta love the ability to come up with the perfect line at the perfect time.  No idea who 'Schmidt' is, but more power to him.  I applauded the comment enthusiastically.

Watching the Dem. National Convention -- and came across this on FB: SO TRUE SO TRUE

The Gun Violence in Munich, Germany vs. the Gun Violence in Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers, Florida aka the Gunshine State, just had another mass shooting.  The last one was a little over a month ago, in Orlando, resulting in 50 dead, 53 wounded.

Germany has had a series of terrorist attacks in 2016, 3 knife attacks, one guy with an axe, one with a bomb, and one non-terrorist attack with a gun.   Each of the terrorist attacks resulted in only 1 dead. Of the stabbings and axe attacks, the knife attacks each left one injured, a third knife attack left 3 injured, and the axe attack left 5 injured.  The suicide bombing left 12 injured.

Only the shooter in Germany, tentatively associated with right wing terrorist Anders Breivik, was successful in accomplishing a mass killing, 9 dead, 16 more wounded. 

This proves the point that strict gun laws work; Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.  Most of the illegal guns are from areas in and near the EU which have experienced civil wars like Bosnia.  Eastern European states often have more lax gun laws; for example, the January 2015 shooting in Paris involved firearms legally bought in Slovakia. The number of dead in that attack, on the magazine Charlie Hebdo, was 12.

Right wing gun-huggers would tell you that if there is restrictive gun regulation, only the bad guys will have guns.

That is not true.  For example, Germany has the 4th largest legal gun ownership in the world, after the US, Finland and Switzerland.  People can still own guns under gun regulation, the so-called good guys.

Right wing gun-huggers will claim - wrongly - that gun regulation and gun restriction means that ONLY the bad guys will have guns.  Bad guys encompass terrorists, both Islamic and right wing terrorists, and criminals; that is also not true.  Rather we see terrorists, both right and left, and criminals, and domestic abusers as well, all find it too easy to get guns in the United States, and far too easy to use them against innocent victims.

Germany has a very low level of criminal acts involving guns, giving the lie to the claim that with gun regulation ONLY the criminals will have guns.

NationMaster makes comparisons between countries easy, including regarding firearms and crime.

For example:
Gemany ranks 77th in crime (per capita)  the United states ranks 30th (per capita); the US has more than twice the rate of crime of the USA
Germany ranks 24th for rape; the US ranked 9th with 3 times more rape than the US (per capita)
Germany ranks 15th for violent gun crime; the US ranks 1st with 3 times more than Germany
Germany ranks 43rd for intentional homicide with a rate of 0.81 per 100,000; the US ranked 7th, with 6 times the homicides per 100,000 of Germany with 5 per 100,000.
 There are a variety of other metrics; all of them come out with Germany as safer than the US, usually by a very very large margin.

We can continue listing, but the bottom line is that Germany, with their stricter gun laws continues to make legal gun ownership available for qualifying citizens while making their country broadly safer from violence, particularly gun violence.

The right wing gun huggers, as they do with any subject that doesn't suit how they wish the world to be, simply deny inconvenient facts, be it gun control, Brexit being a disasterous vote, or the science of global warming.

We can't let those who are willfully disconnected from reality endanger the rest of us.  We need comprehensive gun control in EVERY part of the United States.  It is increasingly clear that it is not merely correlation but causation, more guns means more gun violence, not greater safety.

When, WHEN will we have enough of killing and injuring people because of ridiculous but well-funded myths and propaganda?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

He left out women and the LGBT, but other than that, he hits the high points of why Trump is a dangerous fascist and authoritarian figure. No one in their right mind should give the man serious consideration.

Brexit Is Breaking the British Economy; is Recession beginning

It has been one month since the UK voted to 'Brexit', Britain exiting the European Union.

The results are not good.  The numbers reflect a severe contraction of historic proportions; the definition of a recession is two quarters of contraction.  The numbers from the first month makes it likely there will be a recession, with continuing contraction.

The UK was previously the country which had made the most economic gains after joining the EU.  Prior to joining the EU the UK economy was somewhat anemic at best.

As noted in this article from the BBC news, this is a disaster brought on the Brits entirely by their own actions.  Brexit was a stupid mistake by the same conservative crowd that ignores informed opinion in rejecting anthropogenic global warming.

Brexit causes dramatic drop in UK economy, data suggests
Britain's decision to leave the EU has led to a "dramatic deterioration" in economic activity, not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Data from IHS Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, shows a fall to 47.7 in July, the lowest level since April in 2009. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
Both manufacturing and service sectors saw a decline in output and orders.
...The report surveyed more than 650 services companies, from sectors including transport, business services, computing and restaurants.
It asked them: "Is the level of business activity at your company higher, the same or lower than one month ago?"
It also asked manufacturers whether production had gone up or down.
The PMI is the first significant set of data measuring business reaction to the result of the UK referendum.
..."The only other times we have seen this index fall to these low levels, was the global financial crisis in 2008/9, the bursting of the dot com bubble, and the 1998 Asian financial crisis," Mr Williamson told the BBC.
"The difference this time is that it is entirely home-grown, which suggest the impact could be greater on the UK economy than before.
"This is exactly what most economists were saying would happen."
'Heading for recession'
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures provided the "first major evidence that the UK is entering a sharp downturn".

Neil Wilson, markets analyst at ETX Capital, said he thought the UK was "heading for a recession again", and that the data would almost certainly prompt the Bank of England to roll out further stimulus.

While IHS Markit's reading on the UK economy was worse than most analysts expected, its verdict on the wider eurozone economy was more cheery.
Although business confidence dropped to an 18-month low, the overall pace of economic growth was in line with pre-Brexit trends, and employment across the eurozone rose.

Conservative voters voted against their economic interests, including voting where their jobs were going to be lost, over the issue of hatred and fear of immigrants.  This continues to be the propaganda manipulation of conservative low-information / emotional thinking potential voters.  They vote stupidly.  Then they suffer.  Then they blame other people.

The agreement among economists about Brexit being a disaster is similar to the consensus about global warming among other scientists.

OK, let's take you up on that...

Friday, July 22, 2016

We are Munich

We are in solidarity with the city of Munich /Munchen, Germany.

It's Friday Fun Day

It doesn't get more fun than this:

Update: Stealing other people's designs, using music without permission, a Trump family problem

We know that Donald Trump used a fake identity to deal with PR issues, a character he named John Barron.  His son with Melania Trump is now named Barron William, same spelling.  I suppose it is a measure of some small impulse of originality that the son is not named Barron John.

A conspiracy theory circulated briefly that the woman who took the fall for Melania Trump was a fake, like the John Barron persona; good investigating by Snopes shows that to be incorrect.  The woman,    is real, but there is no independent verification that she was really responsible for the plagiarism, given an absence of evidence for that as a pattern of behavior.  She appears more competent than that. However the original speech, per investigation by NBC, did not include the plagiarized paragraphs. Those appear to be inserted by the campaign; McIver is not part of the campaign.  If she did contribute to the speech, as a paid corporate employee, that would be an inappropriate use of corporate resources by the campaign.  Which is to say that there may be an investigation into what she did and did not do in terms of the plagiarism at some future point.

.In the same vein, daughter Ivanka, aka Yael (the name she took upon converting to Judaism) has been sued for theft of shoe designs. (The suit is for one design, but the allegations are that she stole an entire line of shoe designs.) This is on top of the recall of 20,000 of her scarves for violating the US Federal Flammability Standard earlier this year.  No surprise that daddy dearest wants to undo regulation; they don't give a damn if the customers are burned by the products they sell.

Throughout the convention and at the opening of his campaign, Trump has been plagued by artists who are appalled at the use and abuse of their music to sell Trump, whom they appear to pretty universally despise and with whom they deeply disagree.  It began with Neil Young, and continued with the opening night use of We are the Champions by Queen and throughout the convention.  George Harrison's estate objects to Ivanka Trump using Here Comes the Sun without permission. The Harrison estate however indicated they  might have approved Beware of Darkness. Apparently there are no conservative song writers and musicians with music worth stealing / using.

It does not bode well for the GOP that they have nominated a crook, married to another dishonest person, with dishonest offspring.  But good on the so-called liberal media, like the Huff Po, that they quickly and effectively debunked a conspiracy theory about the alleged plagiarist.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GOP, party of failure to take responsibility, party of lies, party of hypocrisy and double standards

Melania Trump plagiarized First Lady Michele Obama.  She never owned that she copied the words of the first lady.

Melania Trump, as represented by the campaign, tried to deny that any plagiarism took place in spite of the obvious. We are left to believe that the first-lady-wannabe is either incapable of honesty or is too controlled by her husband to function in the White House. First ladies have to have a mind, one that works, not be a puppet.

Then Melania Trump and the campaign to which she belonged tried a couple of other dodgy moves; Snopes busted one, the claim that Michele Obama had been the plagiarist, from a book that does not contain the words she wrote. 

I suppose when you are either too lazy and dishonest, or too incompetent, you don't know or care about checking to see if you are stealing the intellectual property of someone else, for your own purpose.  I would classify making false claims about a dead author as an example.
Image result for twighlight sparkle, my little pony
Then there was the rubbish line that the content of Michele Obama's speech was derived from and of the same caliber and substance as My Little Pony,  -- except when the stolen words were uttered by Melania Trump. 

You have to be pretty low to try to scapegoat a cartoon pony.

Do we really want a woman who supposedly relies on a cartoon character for the content of a major speech to be in any position of responsibility? Does anyone believe that a woman who worked her way through college, including Harvard Law, rely on plagiarizing My Little Pony for the substance of her speech?  Hint -- the Michele Obama speech was made in 2008; the latest My Little Pony series, in which the words in question occurred, debuted in 2010.

Who knows what kind of person Melania Trump is when not in the shadow of her asshole husband; having married him does not reflect well on her abilities, nor does her past as a soft-core porn model, nor does her LYING at the RNC convention and elsewhere about her background.  The woman dropped out of an eastern European college of dubious quality without completing her freshman year.  But she claimed - and still apparently claims - to have a degree in Architecture and Design, from an unspecified institution of higher education.

And now the GOP and RNC are complicit in trying to lie to the American electorate, because there appears to be no lie for which the right will require accountability even for the most deliberate falsehood.  From the HuffPo:
Melania Trump’s professional biography says the wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump began modeling at age 16, but she only began working full-time after obtaining a degree. She graduated “in design and architecture at University in Slovenia,” according to the bio as of Monday night:
Also from the HuffPo, but a story carried by some right wing media as well:
Slovenian journalists Bojan Pozar and Igor Omerza wrote in their biography on the former fashion model that she “became ― and remained ― a college dropout” after leaving the University of Ljubljana’s architecture school following her freshman year.
...Later, in America, after meeting Donald Trump and officially becoming his partner, Melania Knauss told the media that she got her degree in architecture and design. This was almost certainly done in consultation with Trump and his advisors, as they were desperate to give off the impression that the Slovenian model was not just beautiful, but also smart and well-educated.
It is no accident that conservatives believe lies, lies they know to be falsehoods, but which cater to their sad, sick, disconnected world view that hates and deceives and fails. It fails because lies don't work, lies never succeed in the long run.

It is not so much that the egregious lies from Melania Trump disqualify her from the ranks of women like Michele Obama or Jackie Kennedy.  It is that there are far worse lies told and lived by Donald Trump and the Republican party, welcomed and consumed, embraced by the dishonest right wingers who endanger our country with their failed values and dishonesty, bigotry, and hypocrisy.

The right should be ashamed, but that would require honesty and morality.  They have neither, and apparently they have repudiated any semblance of intellect as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A dozen reasons why: Concealed carrying of guns is NOT like air bags

The RNC national convention is working overtime to make people feel afraid; it is some of the worst fear mongering, the most inaccurate passel of lies I have seen in a long time.  Outside of the convention it is an armed camp of paramilitary-armed people, despite the protests of Cleveland law enforcement who does not want them there because they pose a danger.

Fear mongering by the GOP sells guns for the NRA and encourages people to feel they need to carry lethal force into the public square, when there is no good reason to do so, and when doing so actually adds to the danger to people (including the gun carrier).

I recently read a discussion with someone who was intellectually dishonest, yet this person expected -- one might say DEMANDED that he be regarded with trust and confidence from the rest of us when he carries a firearm in public.

I don't have a lot of respect for the judgment or the integrity of someone who demonstrates both poor logical reasoning and intellectual dishonesty, including a willingness to engage in ad hominem attacks.  If your thinking is so flawed you think airbags are like guns, you need remedial education in how to think.

Just one of the failed arguments proffered was that there was no difference in protecting oneself and one's family from intentional or accidental injury by having airbags in one's car, and carrying a firearm to shoot someone to protect oneself and family.

Airbags make us all safer; firearms widely carried in public locations endanger us, making us all less safe, even the gun carrier, ESPECIALLY the gun carrier,  and they particularly endanger law enforcement.

Here is a partial list of reasons why that is a faulty comparison:

 1. Airbags are a passive defense against injury, triggered independently of individual choice or judgment; firearms are not.
 2. Airbags are subject to extensive study, recall, and other consumer protections, including liability suits; firearms are not.
 3. Airbags are required by law; firearms are not.
 4. Airbags don't accidentally injure innocent bystanders; firearms do.
 5. Airbags are not a means to commit suicide; firearms are.
 6. In the event of an airbag injury, nearly always there is only one victim; firearms frequently have multiple victims.
 7. No one creates anything remotely like an arsenal of airbags, while firearms are stockpiled.
 8. No one uses airbags to overthrow or attempt to overthrow government; the same is not true of airbags.
 9. Airbags only work in close proximity; the same is not true for firearms.
10.Airbags are not essential for national defense, firearms are.
11. Airbags are not mentioned anywhere, directly or indirectly, in the U.S. Constitution; Arms are.
12.  Airbags have a single use after which they are discarded; this is not true of firearms.

Please feel free to add any other ways in which airbags are NOT a legitimate comparison to firearms and personal safety.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The GOP Platform and Public Health policy: How silly it is for the GOP to fear sex, but not guns

I heard a joke from a child some years ago. 
Q. Know why when geese fly in a Vee formation, one side is always longer than the other?
A. More geese on the long side.

Red states consume more porn that blue and purple states.

Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers

Americans may paint themselves in increasingly bright shades of red and blue, but new research finds one thing that varies little across the nation: the liking for online pornography.
A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.
However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
While a conservative porn apologist might posit that there is massive consumption by a few liberals holed up in these red states, like lots of lonely individuals, alone on their separate little desert islands, that is not a hypothesis with any substantive evidence to support it.  The data supports these ARE conservatives.

That also tracks with other disgusting and immoral attitudes about sex and sexuality we see from conservatives in spite of their contrary lip service, like more teen pregnancies, divorces, adultery, rape and pedophilia..........especially in the Bible Belt states.  And it includes GAY PORN, from all of those anti-LGBT conservatives too!  The new "let's stamp out sexuality" GOP has put more anti-LGBT planks in their platform this year than in previous.  Hyopcrites.

Like the GOP.  I would argue that conservatives, as a group (signalling a generality here with all of the imperfections and challenges that go with generalities), have a very traditional but emphatically dysfunctional view of sex, while having an equally failed belief and viewpoint about violence (including but not limited to gun violence).  There is still some truth to the oversimplification that conservatives are against sex but pro-violence; they see nothing wrong for example in old classic westerns where there is a lot of hitting and shooting, but little or no kissing, and no portrayal of anything more sexual at all.

It is worth noting that the GOP is putting a plank in this year's platform t hat is focusing on internet porn as a public health issue.  Not on guns, which actually kill and injure people; no, they are focusing on SEX, which appears to terrify conservatives at the same time it lures them as smirking, lecherous forbidden fruit.  This applies to both heterosexual themed porn AND gay porn.

Do conservatives care about any other behavior that is destructive or addictive? Gambling has been deemed addictive as has internet gaming, but zero, and of course there is the opiate addiction epidemic and a continuing epidemic of meth use.  But NO interest in those; nope, conservatives do not care about anything other than meddling in every aspect of peoples' sex lives.  One could assert they are really nothing but perverts obsessed with other people's sex lives.

Another and related plank of that platform is the requirement that the Christian Bible be taught as both literature and as part of American History.  It is worth noting that the Bible has a lot of passages about sex slavery, and rape, and other really heinous sexual conduct that is both morally abhorrent and thoroughly illegal.
GOP platform subcmte passed the amendment that the bible be allowed to be taught in schools as a historical document.
It is worth noting that the GOP is also pushing back against attempts to reduce rape on college campuses.  Because 1. Obama has made it an issue; and 2. because a large number of conservatives apparently believe that anything other than no (possibly backed up by a gun or other lethal weapon) is not rape -- they have tried to define drugging or otherwise incapacitating a victim and then raping her or him as not rape (think Bill Cosby drugged sex accusations as not being rape) and they have tried to erase the definition of statutory rape - of someone being incapable of informed consent because they are a child as rape.  And of course we have the defense of Donald Trump by his attorneys speaking on his behalf that he could not be guilty of raping his first wife, NOT because he didn't do it, but because a man cannot rape a woman who is his wife (which is and was legally incorrect in NY where Donald and Ivana Trump resided).

It is also worth noting that sex trafficking is expected to increase enormously in and around the Republican convention in Ohio.  In 2012 at the GOP convention, prostitution spiked upwards by 50%.  And it is not only sex workers who are part of the conservative convention sex circus, there is a huge increase in attendance at strip clubs and specialty sex clubs (ie BDSM, etc.).

Is there sex connected with Democratic conventions? Yes. But the Democrats do not hypocritically put anti-sex or anti-porn or pro-rape planks in their party platform, and Democrats do not try to regulate the private sexual conduct of people in their own bedrooms the way that the conservatives do.  And the Democrats correctly identify which is the larger public health issue in terms of severe injury and death - which is guns, not erotic content by consenting adults.

From Newsnet5:
CLEVELAND - Both law enforcement and advocacy groups are predicting an increase in sex trafficking during Cleveland's Republican National Convention in July.
In Cleveland, the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking are actively working to raise awareness of human trafficking in the weeks leading up to the convention.
"We know that it will occur," said founder Renee Jones. "There's no question in my mind."
So........IS sex really a public health issue? Are the claims made that pornography is addictive true?
NO, not according to WebMD or other professional sources.  But it is a premise of conservative evangelicals that porn is a sin,, and therefore it must be eradicated -- legislated out of existence, as if punishment somehow is a sufficient deterrent to the strong physical and emotional drives in human beings like sexuality, or using the public health system to combat it.

What I find to be the better definition of what is and is not addiction is provided by not only behavior where we have that whole compulsive vs. addictive definition problem, but how the human brain is changed (or in the case of other addictions, damaged ie changed for the worse rather than better). THAT has to be the definition of a public health issue, along with a better quantified indication that the problem is sufficiently widespread - like gun violence or AIDS - to target with public health $$$$.

We do not to date have EITHER the determination that porn is genuinely addictive (as distinct from those individuals who are prone to compulsive behavior disorders) or that it affects sufficiently large numbers of people in an adverse way when consumed.  A comparison here would be looking the very large number of people who safely consume alcohol with those relatively few who become alcoholics, in deciding to treat all alcohol consumption as a public health issue because of addiction.

From WebMD:

Is Pornography Addictive?

Psychologists debate whether people can have an addiction to pornography.

In November 2004, a panel of experts testified before a Senate subcommittee that a product which millions of Americans consume is dangerously addictive. They were talking about pornography.
The effects of porn on the brain were called "toxic" and compared to cocaine. One psychologist claimed "prolonged exposure to pornography stimulates a preference for depictions of group sex, sadomasochistic practices, and sexual contact with animals."

...There's no doubt that some people's porn consumption gets them in trouble -- in the form of maxed-out credit cards, lost sleep, neglected responsibilities, or neglected loved ones. But Weston is one who takes issue with calling problem behavior involving porn an addiction. "'Compulsive' is more appropriate," she tells WebMD.
The difference between describing the behavior as a compulsion or an addiction is subtle, but important.

Erick Janssen, PhD, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, criticizes the use of the term addiction when talking about porn because he says it merely describes certain people's behavior as being addiction-like, but treating them as addicts may not help them.

Many people may diagnose themselves as porn addicts after reading popular books on the subject, he says. But mental health professionals have no standard criteria to diagnose porn addiction.

And from PubMed at the US National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health efforts at determining the effects of pornography produced this study from 2011, looking at destructive changes to the human brain as an indication of addiction taking place:

Surg Neurol Int. 2011;2:64. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.81427. Epub 2011 May 21.

Neuroscience research fails to support claims that excessive pornography consumption causes brain damage.

While there are some behavioral addictions accepted by the various professional mental health organizations, it is worth noting that the American Psychiatric Association has added some of these, notably internet gaming, and gambling, to their Diagnostic system, but NOT porn consumption. While this might change in the future as more SCIENTIFIC information becomes available, the SCIENCE at this point does not support treating Porn as a public health issue.

From September of 2015, again from PubMed, etc.
Behav Sci (Basel). 2015 Sep; 5(3): 388–433.
Published online 2015 Sep 18. doi:  10.3390/bs5030388
PMCID: PMC4600144

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update

Todd Love,1,* Christian Laier,2, Matthias Brand,2,3, Linda Hatch,4, and Raju Hajela5,6,
Andrew Doan, Academic Editor

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also acknowledged the phenomenon of behavioral addiction, as can be seen in multiple passages within the DSM-5. For example, the “Substance Related Disorders” chapter was renamed “Substance Use and Addictive Disorders”, a “Non-Substance-Related Disorders” subchapter was created, and perhaps most notably, Gambling Disorder (formerly named Pathological Gambling) was moved into this the newly formed subchapter, due to its “reflecting evidence that gambling behaviors activate reward systems similar to those activated by drugs of abuse and produce some behavioral symptoms that appear comparable to those produced by the substance use disorders” [12]. Further, a diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) was placed within Section 3—Conditions for Further Study of the DSM-5. In support of this new diagnosis, the APA stated in their press release/fact sheet on IGD:

the APA went on to make the following statement in the Differential Diagnosis section of IGD:
Excessive use of the Internet not involving playing of online games (e.g., excessive use of social media, such as Facebook; viewing pornography online) is not considered analogous to Internet gaming disorder, and future research on other excessive uses of the Internet would need to follow similar guidelines as suggested herein.
The GOP is the do-as-I-say, NOT-as-I-do party, and they are the rabidly anti-science party; as such they should not be elected, should not be given the power and authority, to make ANY such decision about public health issues or priorities.  They don't do them well, and in too many instances related to sex (like the failed abstinence only sex ed) they don't deal at all with the realities defined and quantified by science.  Rather the GOP are hypocrites and prudes who do a bad job at effective governance.