Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Sailboats at Sunset

Escaping Dystopia 2011...

Morning, news junkies.

Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…

Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:

This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”

That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.

Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.

Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…

Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words

“Depressing women’s history news of the week”

Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.

The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?

The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.

“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”


  • The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.

Click to view HQ. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.

As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…

  • This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):

You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.

  • For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:

“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”

  • In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”

The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China

In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”

Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.

Timeout: Art break

We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest… Continue reading

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: sheroes and potpourri

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets the children of Embassy employees at the US Embassy in Tokyo, April 17, 2011. Families were allowed back Friday, after warnings has been lifted following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Morning, news junkies. Here are my Saturday reads.


  • Hillary’s profile in the 2011 Time 100 was written by dean emeritus of the Kennedy School, Joe Nye. Nye doesn’t mention Hillary’s work on behalf of women and girls, instead defining her influence in terms of how well she plays with others:

But above all, Hillary, 63, has set a model of how to be a member of a team of rivals. Unlike in many Administrations that have suffered from friction between State, Defense and the White House, Barack Obama’s strongest rival in 2008 has become one of the most effective and loyal supporters in an Administration that has been notably cohesive on foreign policy.

RIP Madelyn Pugh Davis (1921-2011)

  • I’m a huge fan of all things Desilu, and I love Christine Russell’s tribute to Madelyn over at the Atlantic: The ‘Girl Writer’ Behind ‘I Love Lucy’ Dies. It is worth the click over. Thank you Madelyn Pugh for blazing trails and for writing television that makes me laugh and smile in my times of grief and suffering. (Sisterhood, the girl gift that keeps on giving.)

Remembering Diana

Economics quick links

Pastor Un-Congeniality: ‘Peaceful, armed, and accidentally firing’

  • You can’t make this stuff up: After meeting with Dearborn Islamic Center imam on Detroit’s Fox affiliate, Terry Jones accidentally fires a gun in the studio parking lot. Keep in mind that Jones wanted to hold a protest rally outside of this imam’s Michigan mosque yesterday on Good Friday. He told the local ABC affiliate the following:

“We have made it very clear that we are coming there with very, very peaceful intentions,” the pastor explained to WXYZ-TV. “We will be armed. We do have concealed weapons permits.”

War, violence, and untruth: What is it good for?

  • Glenzilla on Friday’s drone attack killing 23 people in Pakistan: Nobel peace drones. At the end Greenwald adds an important note, summing up the quagmire-esque situation in Libya in two very pithy sentences:

A new NYT/CBS poll today finds that only 39% approve of Obama’s handling of Libya, while 45% disapprove (see p. 17). That’s what happens when a President starts a new war without any pretense of democratic debate, let alone citizenry consent through the Congress.

OBAMA: So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works.

And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.

We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

[Q: Didn’t he release evidence of war crimes?]

OBAMA: What he did was he dumped

[Q: Isn’t that just the same thing as what Daniel Ellsberg did?]

OBAMA: No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.

Women’s Rights

  • Please take a moment to read this article from the Nation by Michelle Goldberg: Policing Pregnancy. This is why Pelosi allowing Stupak to come to a vote and Obama signing that executive order was an affront to our civil rights. The Democrats emboldened the Republican war against women–and that’s how our oligarchy keeps going. But, this is no game. The assault on women has very real and damaging consequences. Targeting desperate women who have had their human rights violated and prosecuting them for trying to kill or harm themselves while pregnant is no less barbaric than the Taliban’s treatment of women.

Doom and gloom break…


  • And, for what? Open season on women’s health and a Dem brand so weakened that it *needs* the Republicans’ mindboggling overreach on Medicare to distract from the Dems’ own blunders on healthcare? Via Mother Jones, Dems Warn Constituents About the Evils of RyanCare:

Back in their home districts for the Easter recess, some House Democrats have put the GOP overhaul of Medicare front and center with their constituents. On Wednesday night, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) asked all the callers participating in a telephone town hall to vote on whether they supported the GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare “with a voucher system to help seniors defray the cost of health insurance.” Of some 1,300 callers who responded, the choice seemed overwhelming: 73 percent wanted to keep Medicare as is, while only 27 supported the GOP overhaul.

The informal telephone poll falls in line with a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll that found that 65 percent of Americans oppose the Ryan plan for Medicare. That number that jumped to 84 percent when respondents were told that the cost of private insurance is supposed to outpace the cost of Medicare insurance, weakening the value of the “premium support” that recipients would receive under Ryan’s plan.

Kabuki for American oil junkies

  • WaPo PostPartisan blogger Stephen Stromberg offers this take on Obama’s oil price and fraud task force, criticizing both the president and Republicans: Obama, GOP’s empty war on gas prices.

On Thursday, President Obama unveiled a new working group to combat any fraud or manipulation in the oil and energy markets that may be contributing to near-record gas prices. But some economists and market experts worry that by focusing on criminal activity, Obama is shrugging off a much bigger problem: rampant Wall Street speculation in commodities markets that has helped drive up food and energy prices in the past.

Birthers come in all shapes of idiot; 2012 looks bleak.

  • Salon’s Justin Elliott eviscerates Andrew Sullivan and the Trig Truthers. Sarah Palin is a shallow politician with a horrid platform. She would make a horrible president. But, her pregnancy history is irrelevant, and the “investigation” of any woman politician’s hoo ha and the aspersions cast upon her teenage daughter and disabled son in the process of said investigation is a sickening and sad commentary on our zombie fourth estate and what it considers worthy of investigative journalism (especially in light of all the critical issues it does not investigate). And, on a purely pragmatic note: Sarah Palin is desperate to be the infotainment flavor of the week again. Why are Palin-haters so hellbent on giving her the attention she wants?

Also see this AP rundown of where other GOPers stand, as well as Trump to Salon: “You will be very surprised” (re: Trump releasing his net worth.)

  • Dartmouth poll: Romney beats Obama in NH by 8 points. Incidentally, Colin Powell beats O by 20 whopping points in the same poll. Colin Powell–the guy who held up that vial of anthrax for Bush-Cheney Co. at the UN and is not going to run for president, especially not against Obama. That’s how politically bankrupt both Obama and the GOP are. They can’t even compete with a hypothetical Colin Powell candidacy.

This Day in History (April 23rd)

Ray achieved another first when on April 23, 1872 she was admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia which had recently removed the word “male” from its requirements.

Drawing of Charlotte Ray. Click image to learn more at fashionlawyerblog.com

The first ever African-American woman lawyer, Charlotte Ray was a woman far ahead of her time. Pictured in the sketch [to the right], Ray was born in New York City on January 13, 1850, the daughter of one of the conductors on the Underground Railroad.

Shortly after graduating from Howard University in 1872, Ray became one of the first women admitted to the District of Columbia Bar. She also was the first woman permitted to argue cases in front of the Supreme Court in the capital. Ray opened her own law office that same year, specializing in commercial law. Unfortunately, Ray only practiced for a few years because of the widespread prejudices of the time. It was too difficult for her, as an African-American woman, to attract enough clients to keep her practice going.

In 1879, Ray moved to New York where she worked as a teacher in the Brooklyn public schools. She married soon after, taking her husband’s last name, Fraim. Ray championed a number of social causes outside of her classroom, becoming involved in the women’s suffrage movement and joining the National Association of Colored Women. She died on January 4, 1911, in Woodside, New York.

Click photo read more about Charlotte at browngirlnextdoor.com

The End.

If you made it all the way through, don’t forget to chime in with your reads in the comments!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: The “smartest men” in DC vs. First Ladies

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by a South Korean government official Ahn Young-jip upon her arrival at Seoul military airport in Seongnam, South Korea, Saturday, April 16, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Morning, news junkies. As you probably know, the April 15th tax deadline is pushed back to April 18th this year because of Emancipation Day. My roundups are usually jampacked with headlines–it’s out of control, I know–but since it’s tax season and nobody needs any more homework, I’m going to cover a few headlines and then switch to some lighter stuff.

Newsy Reads

So I guess you’ve heard about the Huntsman love letters that were leaked to the Daily Caller by now. Full text of Huntsman’s letters to Obama and Bill Clinton here. I haven’t checked out all the heads exploding on rightwinger blogs, and judging from the headlines piling up on memeorandum alone, I have no interest in doing so. As usual, the right wants to marginalize the one GOPer who I would consider voting for in 2012, which figures. What’s struck me more than anything else about these not-shocking-at-all letters is that Huntsman’s praise of Obama is exceedingly generic while his praise of Bill and Hillary Clinton is full of specifics and gives a sense of how completely engaged they both are in public service.

In other not-surprising news, Obama was caught on a mic at a fundraiser taking jabs at Paul Ryan and the GOP and now poor witto Republicans are complaining that their fee-fees have been hurt. Hard to feel sorry for them when they’re always so quick to criticize everyone else in the world for playing the victim. Anyhow, I caught a few seconds of Rove commenting on the Obama fundraiser comments as I was flipping through channels on Friday night–after he got done with his obligatory hagiography of Paul Ryan, Rove said Obama is probably just jealous of the attention Paul Ryan is getting. I had to laugh at that part.

What I want to know is after the Bittergate and Naftagate episodes from 2008, why is anyone surprised by anything Obama says to different audiences anyway? He’s a Nowhere Man trying to raise money from Democratic donors while chasing after right-leaning Independent voters. So publicly Obama hailed Ryan’s proposal as a serious one, and privately he told his donors that Ryan’s proposal is “not on the level.” All of it is just words to Obama.

In the midst of this, almost as if on cue, David Brooks bumbles away saying that Obama and Ryan are the smartest, most admirable and most genial men in Washington” and laments over what a pity it is that Obama won’t ask Ryan over for lunch.

If Obama and Ryan are the best DC has to offer (I don’t think they are, but if they are…), then perhaps the great American experiment is already over.

On that note, I’m going to switch over to the fun stuff.

First Lady Reads

Lately I’ve been coming across items about “first ladies,” various and sundry. I’ve rounded them up to share with you. I hope you enjoy.

The (first) First Lady of Flight: Harriet Quimby… On this day in history (April 16) in 1912, America’s first licensed woman pilot, Harriet Quimby, became the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Click here to read the NYT article that ran on Quimby on April 17, 1912. To quote Ed. Y. Hall, aviation historian: Harriet Quimby was flying 25 years before Amelia Earhart. She carried airmail as early as 1912.” Quimby’s achievement went largely unrecognized, but she continued to break ground in the few months she lived after, until July 1, 1912, when she became the first American woman to die in a plane crash in the US. (Julia Clark died two weeks earlier in a US crash, but she wasn’t American.) For more information, check out this fantastic post about Quimby: Pioneering Aviatrix Harriet Quimby flies into history from Michigan. There’s a nice youtube and neat pictures of Arcadia, Michigan, Quimby’s hometown.

First Lady of the World meets the First Lady of Television… See here. Eleanor and Lucy. My two favorites together. To quote from Carl Anthony’s post:

Within a decade of this meeting, both women would be accused of being Communists, the former for her social activism, the latter for once registering with the party to please her old grandpappy who did belong. In truth, neither of them was Red. Not one hair.

First Lady of the United States meets First Lady of American Cinema… Part 1 and Part 2. There are three pictures of Jackie O and Liz meeting (the only known photos), as well as a wonderful essay by Carl Anthony which reads like the True Hollywood Story of First Ladies, only better. Here’s an excerpt from Part 2:

The death of Onassis on March 15, 1975 and the divorce from Burton in June 26, 1974 (although Liz gave it a second try from October 10, 1975 to July and separated on February 23, 1976, finally divorcing five months later) began a process that helped the real Jackie and Liz to begin defining their lives on their own terms, regardless of the public narrative defined by what the former once called “the little cartoon that runs beneath one’s real life.” Treating them as proprietary commodities, the tabloids felt free to print the most outrageous claims to make their Liz-Jackie storylines sell, but strangely refrained from treading into sensitive areas of the real women’s lives which they themselves had used to craft the public images they wished to convey – and didn’t want contradicted.

First Lady Betty Ford turned 93 this month… One more link to Carl Anthony because he wrote a refreshing “Beyond Rehab” retrospective on Betty Ford’s legacy. Teaser:

The imagination correctly conjures 1974 with maternal pleasantness and welcoming comfort, tied up in a daisy yellow ribbon of straight talk as “The Year of Bettys.”

On February 18, 1974, spiffy Betty Furness began looking out for housewives as not just theToday Show’s consumer advocate but for NBC’s evening news as well, her smoky voice ratting out manufacturers of household goods for high costs and poor quality. On September 14, 1974, after five guest appearances a year before, veteran actress Betty White joined the television sitcom cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, appearing as the character Sue Ann Nivens, who hosted a show called “The Happy Homemaker,” dishing out frank-and-beans-on-a-budget as easily as sex advice.

And on August 9, 1974 Betty Ford became a White House wife, at ease before the press whether dispensing chicken hash recipes as evidence of her inflation-fighting meals, making the case for women’s reproductive rights, or pondering whether her kids might have tried pot or how they’d handle pre-marital sex like the nation’s Den Mother chatting over a backyard fence. On the face of it, she was traditional, her Episcopal faith a rock in times of difficulty, her love of husband unabashed and demonstrated in public. The first sign this was a First Lady like no other has been attributed to a reporter asking the startling question of how often she slept with the President and Mrs. Ford shrugging, “As often as possible.”

First Ladies of Rhythm and Jazz Appreciation Month (April)… The Smithsonian has an excellent theme for Jazz appreciation month this year– Women & Jazz: Transforming a Nation. Excerpt from the Smithsonian website:

Jazz Appreciation Month 2011 – the 10th Anniversary – examines the legacies of jazz women, and their advocates, who helped transform race, gender and social relations in the U.S. in the quest to build a more just and equitable nation. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, founded in 1937 at the Piney Woods School in Mississippi, will be the focus of the JAM Launch, a museum display and special online and public programming offered by the National Museum of American History to highlight the unique legacy of the school that music built and their dynamic, women’s jazz band.

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm gained global recognition as the nation’s first, integrated, female big band. Founded in 1937 at the Piney Woods School, band members were students, 14-years old and older, who paid for their education by performing as a jazz band to help promote and sustain the financially struggling school. Traveling nationwide in a customized, tour bus named Big Bertha, the Sweethearts performed at churches, state fairs, dance and civic halls and later entertainment venues such as the Howard Theater and the Apollo, setting box office records.

The Sweethearts confronted dual biases of gender and race and excelled during a period in history when many Southern blacks lived in slavery without chains and women were second class citizens. The band performed in Battle of the Band competitions against bands led by Fletcher Henderson and Earl Fatha Hines, played the Jim Crow South with white band members who disguised themselves as minorities, and toured overseas for the USO during World War II, when integrated performances were taboo. Original band members had come from a school with a legacy of excellence and overcoming difficulties.

And, of course who can forget the First Lady of Song herself. Some fun Ella quotes from the end of this blog tribute:

“It isn’t where you came from, its where you’re going that counts.”- Ella Fitzgerald

“Ella’s amazing! My daughter says that every time she makes a mistake, it becomes a hit record.”
– Lucille Ball

“The best way to start any musical evening is with this girl. It don’t get better than this.”
– Frank Sinatra

That’s it for me. What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Cerebral Is as Cerebral Does

Hillary at Blair House, April 4, 2011 (during a bilateral with Shimon Peres).

Morning, news junkies.

First up… a personal note of congratulations to my blogger friend, Lake Lady, who on Wednesday was elected mayor of her small town in MO. Mayor Lake Lady, you are a true inspiration! Throughout your campaign, I’ve been reminded of this quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Now, onto my Saturday reads…

Once the politics are over, we can assess the policy with clear eyes. And I think you’ll find that the failure to put the 2011 budget to bed in the last Congress cost the economy $60 billion.

  • ABC News asks the $64,000 question: Where were the women in the budget debate? Here’s the other $64,000 question, the one that the MSM–as well as most of the prog blogs for that matter–won’t ask: What happened when Nancy Pelosi and “This is what a feminist looks like” Obama were at the Stupakistan table? (The war on women didn’t start with the Republican midterm gains…it just got an upgrade from easily ignored tropical storm to Cat 5 hurricane.)
  • The Atlantic’s James Fallows has a couple of posts up on the “uncertainty tax” that the possibility alone of a government shutdown has imposed on government operations, particularly at Hillary Clinton’s State Department… the first post is called Third World on the Potomac, followed up by Government-Shutdown Watch: An Inside View. The good news: Whether or not there was a shutdown, Hillary’s meeting with the highest-ranking woman in the Chinese government, State Councilor Liu Yandong, got the okay to proceed as planned next week. The not-so-good news: According to a reader whose wife works at the State department and wrote in to Fallows (see the “Inside View” link above), “it seems as though the government has been doing nothing this week other than preparing for the shutdown.” Another interesting tidbit from Fallows’ reader:

A semi-hard news tidbit: the disagreement over Planned Parenthood is a smokescreen to hide the fact that they can’t agree on the numbers. What I find so troubling about this is that the WH has met the Republicans about 70% of the way, yet Boehner keep moving the goal posts. Why the WH can’t this storyline into the media is beyond me. But then again, as Dan Balz observes today, we are seeing perhaps yet another example of a cerebral leadership style that is still not working.

  • I’d also like to say that when it comes to the kind of intelligence that matters, cerebral is as cerebral does. It’s not mere lack of ideas that is plaguing our politics, nor is it as benign as the sanitized “cerebral style” meme would like you to believe. What is plaguing our politics is lack of action and political will. Simple and reasonable ideas like ones on closing the corporate tax loopholes only get floated by the Bernie Sanders in our political class, precisely to be designated as outside the realm of what’s achievable in our current political system.
  • Speaking of political bankruptcy, and to link to James Fallows again… he has written an excellent takedown of the “brave and serious” Mr. Ryan, in which he elaborates on his contention that Ryan’s budget proposal is neither brave nor serious but rather “partisan and gimmicky,” which — as Fallows notes — would be par for the course as far as these sorts of plans go, if it weren’t for the laudatory way it has been received.
  • Meanwhile, here are the two descriptors Krugman uses for Ryan’s plan: Ludicrous and Cruel. From the link:

In the past, Mr. Ryan has talked a good game about taking care of those in need. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, of the $4 trillion in spending cuts he proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans. And by repealing last year’s health reform, without any replacement, the plan would also deprive an estimated 34 million nonelderly Americans of health insurance.

So the pundits who praised this proposal when it was released were punked. The G.O.P. budget plan isn’t a good-faith effort to put America’s fiscal house in order; it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness.

  • Predictable as ever, David Brooks says Ryan’s proposal is the stuff of his political wet dreams: “Liberals are on the warpath. Republicans are aroused. This is great. It’s democracy — how change begins.” Ick. If what is meant by ‘change’ is the American public losing their lunch while listening to the chattering classes hail the destruction of what’s left of the FDR/LBJ social policy legacy, then I’m sure Republicans and DINOs alike will continue to get off on such change short-changing of the American people.
  • Where was the beltway punditry last month? Why didn’t they breathlessly praise Bernie Sanders for his Emergency Deficit Reduction Act? Did he not boldly provoke a debate we need to have in this country? Moreover, Sanders’ ideas were actually sound and in line with what the public wants. Paul Ryan’s ideas are neither. Again, we don’t just have a Where’s Waldo president. We have a Where’s Waldo fourth estate.

Are you fighting for freedom of speech and assembly and representative government, those supporters must be asking, or is it inadvertently a fight that will ultimately bring you your own versions of Tea-Partiers and gridlock and the complete sacrifice of national interests on the altar of cheap political showmanship?

  • Switching gears back to Hillaryland… John McCain at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast earlier this week, upon being asked to rate Obama’s national security team: “I think the international star is Secretary Clinton. She has done a really tremendous job.” Can’t argue with that.

  • Here’s some of that tremendous job our Energizer Secretary is doing… via NPR, Clinton Has Tough Words For China On Human Rights. The headline is in reference to yesterday when Hillary unveiled the 35th annual report to Congress on human rights. Click on the link for a transcript of Hillary’s remarks. (Hillary also announced a new website: humanrights.gov. In Hillary’s words, This site will offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government. It will pull together reports, statements, and current updates from around the world.)

As Hooper put it in a Tweet this morning, “Today, my friends, we have more proof that exposure to our lives = @freedomtomarry.”

  • Trump, not content to shit or get off the presidential pot just yet, has sent a crack investigative team into Hawaii looking for god only knows what. The only ‘shocking’ discovery Trump could dig up as far as I’m concerned is the whereabouts of Obama’s long lost core convictions. This is the only mystery worth considering when it comes to any ESOTUS (Empty Suit of the United States.) The rest is static…or, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt… Great minds look for core convictions, average minds seek to be part of ‘cool’ events, and small minds continue to ask for Obama’s or Trig’s birth certificate.
  • Salon’s Alex Pareene: South Carolina GOP confirms five clowns for first 2012 debate. A depressing slate of bozos — Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, and Rick Santorum — but as Pareene says, “This is the preliminary list of losers, so there is still time for more clowns to RSVP.” I think that pretty much sums up the outlook for 2012, both the primaries and the general.

  • Keeping up with the one chance we have at something other than a bozo, even though it’s a long shot… CNN: Huntsman heading to South Carolina in May — to deliver a commencement address on the the 7th. “But a source close to Huntsman’s potential presidential campaign told CNN that it’s unlikely he will participate in the debate. The source said, though, that no final decision will be made until he returns from China.” Huntsman is also scheduled to give a commencement address in New Hampshire on the 21st.
  • Public Policy Polling says at this point, only Romney would make NH competitive. Blech. No mention of Huntsman in any of the other matchups either. I have a hunch he’d make it more competitive than Romney would.

The presumption that Barack Obama, no matter what he does or doesn’t do, enjoys nearly unanimous black support is a veritable wall around the president. But who does it protect him against? Republicans? Banksters? Tea partyers, warmongers, torturers? Or black people and the left, his supposed base?

  • Last Saturday I highlighted the plight of black migrant workers in Libya. BAR’s Glen Ford has an update. The NYT Sunday magazine and the UK Globe and Mail have finally devoted some ink to this story. Like Ford says, “As usual, it is only after the U.S. government has embarked irrevocably on the warpath that corporate media reveal the flaws in the rationale.”
  • I’ve been watching The Kennedys on the Reelz channel, and I have to say, despite all the critical pans of the series and even with its glaring weaknesses (chief among them, the omission of a whole lot of Kennedys), I am enjoying it. Perhaps it’s just the RFK fan in me, but I love watching Bobby and the relationship between Bobby and Jack through the lens of fine acting and a humanizing script. Anyhow, for anyone who’s missed out… there’s a Saturday marathon to catch up on episodes 1-6 today (April 9th), starting at 2 pm eastern. There will be another replay of episodes 1-6 tomorrow before the miniseries concludes in a 2-hour finale (episodes 7 and 8.)
  • I also just finished up a tv marathon of my own the other day trying to get through all of the second season of Top Chef Masters before all the episodes disappeared from my cable provider’s On Demand rotation. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else, just in case you’re like me and end up catching up on most tv shows after they’ve already aired–so don’t click on either of the following links if you don’t want to be spoiled. I’ll just put it this way, without giving too much away: I was really thrilled to see that the charity the winner picked for the money he/she won is working toward a cause that our Madame Secretary has been working to draw attention and awareness to.

Suddenly, this week, physics enthusiasts’ eyes turned to Tevatron, a much smaller and less powerful particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois, that is scheduled to be shut down for good after September. And, depending on what happens with the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, it could be even sooner. At Tevatron, part of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), scientists said they may have found evidence of a particle never observed before.

  • Via Ron Cowen at Wired Science, Mysterious Cosmic Blast Keeps on Going. Cowen reports that “Astronomers have witnessed a cosmic explosion so strange they don’t even know what to call it.” Sounds like a metaphor for our times.

This Day in History (April 9th)

What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Hillary, Jeannette, and Perditta

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for the funeral mass for former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Thursday, March 31, 2011 in New York.

Morning, news junkies. Note: You’ll have to read all the way to the bottom of this one for the tie-in to “Jeannette” and “Perditta.” There’s also some comic relief from the Onion waiting there at the end as a reward for making it through. My Saturday reads are often on the ‘heavy’ side I know, and this weekend is no exception.

I’d like to start with a story I touched on in a roundup about a month ago. You may recall that I linked to Glen Ford/BAR’s commentary on the pogrom-like massacre against sub-Saharan black migrant workers in Libya, at the hands of so-called anti-Gaddafi rebels. The Western media has virtually blacked this story out–or if they are covering it in any substantive or sustained way other than in passing, I must have missed it over the past month. Leave it to the WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) to have one of the few informative pieces I’ve seen covering the story at all (h/t paperdoll for pointing me to it.) The WSWS piece references a March 22nd article, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Gunnar Heinsohn (which cites as its source a report by Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Farai Sevenzo).

From the WSWS link:

The article states:“Because mercenaries from Chad and Mali are presumed to be fighting for him [Gaddafi], the lives of a million African refugees and thousands of African migrants are at risk. A Turkish construction worker told the British radio station BBC: ‘We had seventy to eighty people from Chad working for our company. They were massacred with pruning shears and axes, accused by the attackers of being Gaddafi’s troops. The Sudanese people were massacred. We saw it for ourselves.’

The zombie in place of the fourth estate, our corporate US media, has either glossed over or omitted the massacre altogether. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera, unsurprisingly, has had more to say on the killings than I’ve seen from CNN or Fox over the last few months combined. Again, from the WSWS link:

On February 28, the Arab TV station Al Jazeera reported the racist massacre of black African workers by so-called “freedom fighters” as follows: “Dozens of workers from sub-Saharan Africa, it is feared, have been killed and hundreds are hiding because angry opponents of the government are hunting down black African mercenaries, witnesses reported…. According to official reports, about 90 Kenyans and 64 people from southern Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Burundi landed in Nairobi today.

One of them, Julius Kiluu, a 60-year-old construction manager, told Reuters: ‘We were attacked by people from the village. They accused us of being murderous mercenaries. But in reality they simply refuse to tolerate us. Our camp was burnt down. Our company and our embassy helped us get to the airport.’“Hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who work mainly as low-wage day labourers in Libya, have been wounded by the rebels. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor.”

I went digging for the Al Jazeera report:

“But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support,” Hein de Haas, a senior fellow with the International Migration Institute, writes in his blog.

In clicking on the link to de Haas’ blog and perusing the comments, I stumbled upon a link to this February blog post at the Independent by Michael Mumisa: Is Al-Jazeera TV complicit in the latest vilification of Libya’s Blacks?

Mumisa wrote:

Even Al-Jazeera TV has based most of its news coverage of bands of marauding savage Africans on information posted via tweeter, facebook, and other social networks. That there may be African mercenaries operating in Libya is very possible but there are also credible reports from Serbian military sources as well as other Western agencies that Serbian mercenaries are fighting to protect Muammar Gaddafi. Yet nothing has been said about Gaddafi’s Serbian and Russian mercenaries.

Black Africans have always been a ‘visible’ and persecuted minority in Libya. By giving credence to potentially dangerous and unverified reports and rumours posted on social networks without taking into consideration the racial context of Libyan society Al-Jazeera and other foreign media outlets are complicit in the latest vilification and scapegoating of Libya’s Black minorities and its African migrant workers.

I don’t claim to be an expert on what’s happening on the ground in Libya, but I would like some answers on the deaths of these migrant workers. I would really love to hear someone put this humanitarian issue to Madame President Hillary Clinton for comment.

Switching gears now… because yep, you heard me correctly…

I just called her Madame President Hillary Clinton.

If the aliens visiting for the upcoming royal wedding were to observe what was going on right now, what else would they conclude? Hillary’s leading, Obama’s not, and everyone knows it.

Nothing new there, of course, except for the part about everyone knowing it. If Obama is the Where’s Waldo president, our media was the Where’s Waldo fourth estate in 2008, as well as during the entire past decade. That Where’s Waldo media, by the way, very much included left blogistan, guilty of its own version of the “Village” insularity and hegemony in the traditional media that the prog blogs cut their teeth railing against.

In 2008, access was more important than our country’s future to journalists and bloggers, and I have no reason to believe in 2012, the story will be any different.

Which brings me to my next set of links…

Hillary, Obama, Polls, and 2012/The Donald Goes Birther week-in-review

The latest results are from a March 25-27 Gallup poll conducted while the United States was actively involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, a policy Clinton reportedly advocated. The same poll finds Clinton rated more positively than other top administration officials. Obama receives a 54% favorable rating, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 52%, and Vice President Joe Biden, 46%.

  • A CNN/Opinion research poll from March 11 to 13 yielded pretty much the same results: 2 in 3 Americans have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, with 92% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 35% of Republicans (or 83% of liberals, 80% of moderates, and 42% of conservatives) giving her a thumbs up. (That’s nearly identical to the Gallup findings from the end of March: 92% of Dems, 62% of Indies, and 40% of Repubs.) How’s that for “likeable enough” and “polarizing”? Agree or disagree with her, what people have for Hillary–which Obama can’t win with his empty speeches and voting “present”–is respect for her substance, diligence, and commitment. You not only know where she stands on Libya, you know she won’t half-ass it, she won’t vote present like Obama and she won’t cut Bush-like corners either–it’s clear that she’s giving it her all and she’s all in, even if you disagree with her.

It doesn’t look like Florida will be losing its status as one of the most competitive states in the country at the Presidential level next year- voters in the state are almost evenly divided on Barack Obama’s job performance and although he leads all six of the Republicans we tested him against, some of the margins are quite close. […] Mitt Romney does the best, trailing Obama 46-44. […] former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who trails Obama 48-45 in the state. Obama would start out in a slightly healthier position against four other Republicans we tested. He leads Rudy Giuliani by 6 points at 48-42, Mike Huckabee by 7 at 50-43, Newt Gingrich by 8 at 50-42, and Sarah Palin by 13 at 52-39.

Obama’s not likely to win Michigan by his blowout margin of 16 points in 2008 again but if the state voted today he would have an easier time taking it than either John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 did. Mitt Romney does the best of the Republicans against Obama, but still trails 48-41. […] Obama could be vulnerable in Michigan for sure. But consider this- despite that weak 78% approval with Democrats, he gets 85-90% of the Democratic vote against each of these five Republicans. There are enough Democrats who don’t like Obama that a Republican could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state- it’s just far from clear that any of these Republicans could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state.

  • And, in more “coming home to Obama” news… according to a Harvard survey, the “Waiting on the World to Change” generation has fallen back into their Obama-Hope coma (via TPM). If you read the fine print, though, the survey was taken from February 11 to March 2, i.e. before Obama’s (non-)war in Libya. Regardless, it’s not like younger voters are going to vote for whatever horrific candidate the GOP nominates anyway. But, will they show up with the enthusiasm of “being part of something historic and cool” that they did in 2008? I officially left the under 30 demographic last week, and one of the saddest things to watch about US politics over the last three years is how Obama crushed some pretty earnest, if misplaced, idealism on the part of many of my and my kid sister’s peers. I’m sure they’ll still vote for him, but it will be out of fear of the Republican being worse, not out of hope. Obama 2012 is all about cynicism. So was Obama 2008. Again, people just didn’t know it yet.
  • Also buried in the Harvard survey under the headline is this finding: 42% of young voters approve of Obama on the economy, while 55% disapprove. So, it’s not like “kids today” are completely oblivious to their own destruction under this president. There’s just no meaningful alternative.

There’s a good chance that Trump’s flirtation with the GOP will be over as soon as this season of Celebrity Apprentice ends, and that his real motivation is jealousy that Obama is starring in what he sees as the world’s highest-rated reality-TV show: President of the United States. But if you think there’s any chance he’ll actually throw his hat in the ring, consider this: The only consistent position Trump has taken so far is that in 2011, he’s against whatever Obama is for.


  • This one is a bit of a ‘where foreign policy meets domestic policy’ read…[USAID’s Rajiv] Shah: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children. Josh Rogin at FP’s The Cable has the details at the link. Once again, I must point out that we have a Madame President Hillary Clinton on the global stage at a time when her strength, stature, and ‘smart’ power on the domestic stage could have been very well-utilized. (As, Jon Corzine let slip at a party in the summer of 2010… “She would have been able to handle this Congress.”) Still, Hillary and her people at the State Department are doing everything they can from within their foreign policy context to push back on the GOP’s fiscal irresponsibility.


Japanese authorities on Friday were struggling with a new problem at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: where to put tons of radioactive water.


This Day in History (April 2nd)

Stressors the general public typically don’t have to deal with such as deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent change of station assignments every few years or less, exercises and so many other requirements can take a toll on these families, since autistic kids have such a hard time adapting to change.

Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted for war by a wide majority, and on April 6 the vote went to the House. Citing public opinion in Montana and her own pacifist beliefs, Jeannette Rankin was one of only 50 representatives who voted against the American declaration of war. For the remainder of her first term in Congress, she sponsored legislation to aid women and children, and advocated the passage of a federal suffrage amendment.

  • “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin
  • Back in January, I wrote about the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just quote myself:

Today is January 15, 2011… Eighty-two years ago, in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. Thirty-nine years later, in 1968, the Jeannette Rankin Brigade gathered in DC to protest the Vietnam War (links go to two great photos). At the end of the march, the 88-year old Rankin–on behalf of a delegation of women that included Coretta Scott King–presented to then-House Speaker John McCormack a petition calling for an end to the war (link takes you to another amazing photo).

Updates and Closing Thoughts on Libya

FP’s latest brief at the time of my writing this post (Friday mid-morning/noon):

A senior aide to Saif al-Qaddafi is reportedly in London for secret talks with British authorities. Following yesterday’s defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, rumors have swirled of other high-profile defections from the Qaddafi regime. Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, a former U.N. envoy who had also reportedly defected on Thursday, denied the rumors, but said that he is trying to negotiate a ceasefire. Libyan officials have now posted guards to prevent other defectors from leaving.Members of NATO are warning Libya’s rebels not to attack civilians, or they will face the same airstrikes that have been directed at Qaddafi’s troops. The BBC is reporting that seven civilians were allegedly killed in a coalition airstrike near Brega.

More from the BBC link just above:

All the dead were between the ages of 12 and 20, Dr Refardi said. Nato says it is investigating the claim.

The news comes as opposition leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the rebels would agree to a ceasefire if Col Muammar Gaddafi’s troops withdrew from cities.

“We agree on a ceasefire on the condition that our brothers in the western cities have freedom of expression and also that the forces that are besieging the cities withdraw,” he told a news conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

But he said the rebels would not back down on their demand that Col Gaddafi must go.

So it sounds like Gaddafi’s hold is sliding, but who knows how things will be by the time you see this post on Saturday morning.

At any rate, I wonder what Jeannette Rankin and her anti-war brigade would say to this woman (via FP/Blake Hounshell, A Bright Voice from Libya’s Darkness):

What does grief and courage sound like? It sounds a lot like the voice of Perditta Nabbous, the wife of Libyan citizen journalist Mohammed Nabbous, 27, who was shot and killed last Saturday by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi. Mohammed was the charismatic voice and face of Libya al-Hurra, the online TV station he set up in the early days of the uprising. Mo, as his many fans and supporters around the world called him, was attacked while trying to record footage from Benghazi.


She is 8 months pregnant. “I want Mohamed’s child to live,” she told me.

Her voice growing stronger, she called for the U.S.-led strikes on Qaddafi’s air defenses and troops to continue. Here it is in her own words. I can’t put it any more powerfully than this:

“We started this in a pure way, but he turned it bloody. Thousands of our men, women, and children have died.

We just wanted our freedom, that’s all we wanted, we didn’t want power. Before, we could not do a single thing if it was not the way he wanted it.

All we wanted was freedom. All we wanted was to be free. We have paid with our blood, with our families, with our men, and we’re not going to give up.

We are still going to do that no matter what it takes, but we need help. We want to do this ourselves, but we don’t have the weapons, the technology, the things we need. I don’t want anyone to say that Libya got liberated by anybody else.

If NATO didn’t start moving when they did, I assure you, I assure you, half of Benghazi if not more would have been killed. If they stop helping us, we are going to be all killed because he has no mercy anymore.

Remember Rankin’s warning that “you can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

I’m torn between Jeannette’s voice and Perditta’s.

I find myself increasingly hoping against hope that things turn out for the best in Libya and the rest of the MENA region and for us all.

That’s pretty much it for me. What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

If you made it to the end, here you go… as promised… The Onion: American Dream Declared Dead As Final Believer Gives Up

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]