The Widdershins

Fredster:

I wanted to reblog this piece by Lamar White a blogger from La. He made an appearance in support of Wendy Davis for Texas Gov. and the manner in which he  was treated and described afterwards was revolting and I think shows just how dirty politics can be.  Lamar is a scary-smart young man going to law school in Texas.  He is a fantastic blogger and I read his pieces each time he publishes a new one.

Originally posted on CenLamar:

My father was a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions. At the end of every year, he’d set audacious, nearly impossible goals for himself- writing a book, learning a foreign language, recording an album, running for political office, training for a marathon. On December 31st of every year, my father was the most ambitious man in America.

But he wasn’t delusional. Don’t get me wrong. He was perfectly capable of doing everything he aspired to do, and in fairness to him, he’d balance out his outsized resolutions with other, more manageable, and more pedestrian goals.

10535592_985195448291_4183952736902386221_oI think he just enjoyed the exercise of making a list of goals, even if some of them seemed way too lofty to achieve in a single year. It was both positive reinforcement and a way to hold himself accountable.

I may have inherited my father’s sense of ambition, but unlike him, I’ve never been keen…

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There is a contagion sweeping across America. It seems to be an opportunistic infection that cares little about age, gender, ethnicity, or Fearpolitical affiliation. Make no mistake about it, insidious is what it is. More insidious than the Bilderbergers, the Trilateralists, or even the cigarette-smoking man from the X-Files.

This affliction seeks to break down the good order of the body politic. Its transmission is most assuredly airborne. It has sprung itself upon us after a mere 40-years of knowing what a killer it can be. As evidence of its lethality, last Friday it laid flat the twin towers of wannabe presidential posturing, Governators Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo with their policy of imprisoning otherwise asymptomatic healthcare workers – call it the Guantanamo Way.

The pox visited upon us: Fear.

The continual set-your-hair-on-fire cable news coverage of Ebola has turned our televisions into a phalanx of C-EBOL stations. Of course, talk radio is not immune. The ever helpful bumptious buffoons Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have explained to their noseless audience, ergo, mouth-breathing listeners, that President Obama has sent aid to Africa, risking American lives, because of his aching guilt over slavery and colonialism.

We also had that paragon of policy, Darrel Issa, calling a hearing and pronouncing Ebola’s outbreak in Guyana. For Issa he was as close to being right as he usually is — that is if you consider close being the wrong continent, across a three-thousand mile ocean, and Guyana not being Guinea.

Not to be left wanting, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield went for a twofer doing a mash-up of ISIS and Ebola with this trippy observation, “All ISIS would need to do is send a few of its suicide killers into an Ebola affected zone and then get them onto mass transit.” Given that Ebola transmission is only through bodily fluids and fecal matter, Ashleigh must have been literally thinking about “dirty bombs.”

Paper bag on fireOver on Fox‘s morning show Fulminating Friends, everything expert and perpetually angry middle-blond Elisabeth Hasselbeck (for an hour before the show they must pay someone to poke her with a stick that has a picture of Rosie O’Donnell taped to it because she is fire-breathing, cross-eye livid at 6:00 a.m. on the dot) cajoled an expert, “Why are we still letting people into the country who could have possibly been exposed? Why not just shut down the flights and secure the borders? A closing of our borders of travel?” The expert politely replied, “Because that doesn’t work.” Of course that won’t nudge Fox toward curtailing the crazy, at least not until someone admits the Benghazi attack was plotted during Barack and Michelle pillow talk.

The most outrageous feeble-mindedness I personally witnessed was on the MSNBC show whose quite appropriate trademark is a coffee stain. The offensive theory wasn’t even Joe Scarborough with his missing medical degree declaring, “I don’t know how Ebola is transmitted and if I don’t know, no one can be for sure.”

The most offensive, heinously infernal proclamation came from Nicole Wallace, Sarah Palin’s leash-holder from 2008 and come lately of The View where she is holding down the Elisabeth Hasselbeck high chair of pundit-idiocy. Lowering herself to speak to a lifelong public health expert, Ms. Wallace was incredulous when she said, “I could have foreseen this whole Ebola thing because I watched Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman.” Nicole forgot that the movie’s curative “protocol” centered around the bombing incineration of a bucolic American city. Details!

Why does this fear mongering work? It could have something to do with the Iraq War or Katrina’s “heckuva job Brownie” moment or the overnight collapse of the financial sector or the IRS or Benghazi or any other bonfire of conspiracy lit from a kernel of truth.

Without getting all sciencey and stuff, there is a tested and validated theory. Dave Barry’s satire isn’t that far off from the theory. To Ink Blotparaphrase:

Republicans think of Democrats as godless, unpatriotic, Volvo-driving, France-loving, elitist latte guzzlers. Democrats dismiss Republicans as ignorant, NASCAR-obsessed, gun-fondling religious fanatics.

Truth is when confronted with the same stimuli, conservatives and liberals use different portions of their brain to process threats and answer questions. Conservative use the right amygdala, the gland associated with fight or flight reflex, when making risk decisions. Liberals use the left insula, an area of the brain associated with self and social awareness.

Study after study has confirmed conservatives seek stability, structure, and clear, simple answers to complicated questions while liberals are more open, intellectually curious, tolerant, and novelty-seeking. One is not better than the other, it is just a difference in the values we use to sort out our behavioral reactions. The predictive validity of these studies is over 85% and even to all the politicians who proclaim themselves not to be scientists when it comes to climate change, 85% predictability is pretty friggin’ predictive in the world of science.

For whatever reason, the political opportunism of turning Kaci Hickox, a nurse hero just back from fighting Ebola, into a politicized gimmick is a damnable sin. Trying to turn Dr. Craig Spencer into some ambulatory poison when he ran three miles, visited the High Line, and went bowling (I guess that makes him an E-bowler) is not only medically foolish magical thinking, but it belies a mean-spiritedness unsuited outside the pits of hell.

Fear is a prisonEarly in my career I learned the first commandment of public health, “Do not make people afraid of the truth.” To imbue people with fear is to invite surreptitious behavior resulting in catastrophe. So the truth is this: A few cases of Ebola trickling through our airports is not the true danger. The danger lies in allowing the outbreak to continue unabated in West Africa without a concerted world-wide effort dedicated to its eradication. Only when that happens will the world be safe from its ravages. Simply put, to save ourselves, we must first save the “them” as they are so often politically characterized.

Not exactly breaking news, but more of a life lesson — self-preservation oftentimes begins with the well-being of others. Ultimately if we allow fear to overtake the science and politics to dictate the policies, we should be mind-jarringly aware that the walls of protection we have built for ourselves are those of a prison.

Enjoy your Tuesday and take this conversation wherever you like as long as it is outside the prison walls of fear.

Good day, Widdershins! I hope you had a good weekend filled with sports and other forms of fun.

As we have been noting for some time here at TW, Election Day 2014.is almost upon us. I mentioned last week that women will be key to keeping the Senate for the Democrats, and that I feel in their desperation to get us to turn out, some politicians have been playing the “abortion rights” card a little too strongly, especially those who seem to forget all about us until it’s time for us to vote.  Many years ago, in the PUMA days, I and many others suggested that we form a Party dedicated to women’s equality, and that we should use our leverage to push the Democratic Party to pass the ERA. Well, it looks like the first step may have been taken in New York, with the attempt to create a Women’s Equality Party.

The WEP was launched this July as the answer to the assaults on the basic rights of women throughout the country and right here in New York. Inspired by the spirit of Seneca Falls and those who came before us, the Women’s Equality Party brings together the strength of New York’s women leaders to help elect candidates who support the issues that matter most to us, including the passage of the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act.

From achieving pay equity, to strengthening domestic violence protections, to ensuring a woman’s freedom of choice, the WEP says that all women, everywhere are equal because if we don’t all count the same, then none of us count at all.

The WEP isn’t just the beginnings of a new political party; it is a powerful movement to bring women’s issues front and center and ensure that the voices of women are heard and counted where they matter most – at the ballot box.

Why should I cast my vote on the Women’s Equality Party ballot line?

If you and 50,000 other New Yorkers cast their vote for Governor on the WEP line on Election Day, we will have formed the only Women’s Equality Party in the nation, and taken a real, tangible step towards a better future for the women of New York State.

By voting on the party line, women and their allies have the chance to demand change by sending a strong message to legislators in Albany that they must pass the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act.

(Snip)

Is the Women’s Equality Party an established political party

No, not yet! This November is the first time that the Women’s Equality Party will appear on the New York State ballot. Just like other third parties in New York State such as the Green Party, the Working Families Party, and the Conservative Party, the WEP needs to obtain 50,000 votes for Governor this November in order to become a formally established party in the state of New York.

Now I know we are all fairly observant people, so I am guessing you all noticed the references to the New York Governor’s race on that FAQ page. There’s one big reason for that: Our current governor, Andrew Cuomo, paid for the site and calls for the formation of the Party in his campaign commercials. So yes, it is currently what we would call Astroturf, rather than grassroots.

Nonetheless, Cuomo has an excellent record on women’s rights, and unlike many Dems, introduced the Women’s Equality Act last year in an attempt to do what the federal government doesn’t have the political will to get done. In my book, he deserves my vote, and was going to get it anyway. Why not use the WEP line and see what happens?

Every movement starts somewhere. If Governor Cuomo wants to fund the start of this one, good for him. He may be surprised where it ends up. After all, well-behaved women seldom make history. If American women (and the men who support us) start understanding what we can do by demanding equality instead of expecting Democrats to.hand it to us, our historical moment could begin next week.

This is an open thread.

wacko criminal lineup

Good Saturday to you Widdershins.  Once again it’s time for some of the strange, odd or funny things I’ve found while surfing on the internets.  This episode will be somewhat short due to the fact that I spent a lot of the afternoon and early evening on a couple of Louisiana political blogs discussing the upcoming races there.  All of the typing there has gotten my arms and fingers a bit pooped.

When you’re just too tired to burgle

This burglar either had a busy night or he was just plain pooped…who knows.  However, while he was attempting a burglary at a home in Nokomis Fl,  he was either already tired from a busy night of burgling or else the bed just looked too damned good to pass up a snooze.  Either way he laid down and then was off to slumber land, bag of stolen goodies in his arm.  So anyway, when the cleaning woman arrived in the morning, that’s exactly where she found him and she called the police.  The police arrived and even when they were photographing him, he never moved.  He was arrested, charged with burglary and booked into the jail.

 

You know, there’s a reason those banks put a limit on this

And no, I don’t mean your local FDIC-backed Chase, Bank of America or other financial bank.  I mean a sperm bank.

It seems that Zheng Gang, 23, had gone to make a, er, um, deposit at the bank.  I guess he enjoyed it so much that it was his fourth deposit of the week.

Zheng Gang, 23, was found dead in a private booth of a fertility clinic at Wuhan University after nurses noticed he was spending longer than usual producing his sample.

Two hours after he first entered the cubicle, medics broke in to find him lying unconscious on the floor.

Despite frantic efforts to resuscitate him where he lay, doctors pronounced him dead at the scene.

The tragic death – which happened in February 2012 –  only came to light after the young man’s family took the sperm bank, in Wuhan city, Hubei province, eastern China, to court saying that they were responsible for his death.

Alas, the court ruled that young Zheng was perfectly capable of making his own decisions and could make up his own mind about how frequently he wanted to make the “donations”.

So I guess you could consider the pig already marinated

A group of people were camping in the DeGrey River rest area located east of the remote Western Australian town of Port Hedland.  While they were camping, a feral pig rummaged through their camping area and made off with three 6-packs of beer!

The animal was seen stealing three six-packs of beer from campers before ransacking rubbish bags for food.
One camper reported seeing the pig guzzling the beer before getting involved in an altercation with a cow.

Now anyone who chugs 18 beers is not going to end up in good shape and I’m sure all kinds of strange behavior will ensue.

“In the middle of the night these people camping opposite us heard a noise, so they got their torch out and shone it on the pig and there he was, scrunching away at their cans,” said the visitor, who estimated that the pig had consumed 18 beers.

“Then he went and raided all the rubbish bags. There were some other people camped right on the river and they saw him being chased around their vehicle by a cow.”

The pig was reportedly last seen resting under a tree, possibly nursing a hangover.

I’m sure there have been lots of folks who felt the same way after a night out on Bourbon Street!  LOL!

Some assorted youtubes

I cannot remember if I previously put up this one of the English Bulldog pup playing hide and seek.  If so, oops, but I’ll delete it from the list now.

In this one Jimmy Kimmel played a trick on some, shall we say “faux” fashionistas at NY Fashion Week.  The results were funny!

I have no idea why I bookmarked this youtube but here it is.

This next one is a short clip that shows a Weimaraner who just loves it when his master opens up the sun roof on the car.

Finally this last one is an old clip that’s been around for awhile but if you haven’t seen it, it’s terribly funny.

Okay folks that’s it for today and the post will remain up tomorrow also.  It’s a completely open thread so comment on whatever you desire.  I’ll be back later when the football games start.

2014 election

(sigh) So when is it going to end?  This 2014 election cycle that is.  I am getting hammered (as I’m sure we all are) with the emails, regular mail, commercials on the local channels and even on my computer when I watch the local New Orleans channels on the computer!  And, I’ve had to block my cell phone to just my known contacts because of all the calls even coming in there! Oy vey!  If you don’t have any contested elections in your area then count your lucky stars.  I’m sure everyone is complaining except for the teevee stations who are just raking in the dollahs.

Of course the election that I have a personal interest in is the Senate election in Louisiana pitting incumbent Mary Landrieu against not one but two Republican candidates.  Louisiana has an open primary system.  Actually what we have is called a nonpartisan blanket primary.

Under this system, the candidates receiving the most and second-most votes become the contestants in the general election—as in a runoff election, in a two-round system. (In some cases, this second round of voting is only necessary if no candidate receives an overall majority on the initial ballot.) However, there is no separate party nomination process for candidates before the first round, and political parties are not allowed to whittle-down the field using their own internal processes (e.g., party primaries or conventions). Similarly, it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same political party could advance to the general/run-off.

In Louisiana there is a second round (runoff) between the top two candidates if no candidate wins a simple majority (more than half of the votes) in the first round of balloting. This happens more often with open seats, as incumbents more easily win majorities. The runoff constitutes the general election under Louisiana law even if the general election had two candidates of the same party, a phenomenon which frequently occurs. The only labels originally permitted under the Louisiana law were Democrat, Republican, and No Party; however, as of 2008 the labels of any “registered political party” may be used.[3] The primary has been used in statewide elections since 1975. The system was designed by then-GovernorEdwin Edwards after he had to run in two grueling rounds of the Democratic Primary in 1971 before facing a general election against a well-funded and well-rested Republican, Dave Treen (who himself was elected governor under the new system in 1979).

So on the absentee ballot I just marked, there were any number of candidates from various organizations and then after this primary there will be a second, general election in December.  So after Nov. 4th, we get another month of the mailings, emails, etc.

It’s almost certain that Landrieu will come in first in the primary and then have to face off against Congressman Bill Cassidy.  No one is projecting that she will get the needed fifty percent to avoid the runoff election.  Still, there was an interesting article on nola.com about the election.  It seems there has been a surge in new voters heading into the primary election.

In the badly headlined article on nola.com it stated:

There are 35,918 more registered voters in Louisiana than there were on Aug. 1. This includes 18,912 more black voters and 18,888 more independent or minor political party voters.

And this further:

The Democratic-lead voter drives could be why there is a surge in black voters, who have typically been supportive of Landrieu. There are more African Americans registered to vote in Louisiana in 2014 than there were in 2008 — a surprising statistic given that President Barack Obama was first on the ballot six years ago.

I also found this little tidbit interesting:  “there was also a bump in black voters who are independents or associated with a minor political party — about 7,800 more people in this category”.

While this may be encouraging news for Mary, the numbers aren’t what they used to be:

Overall, Democratic voter registration in Louisiana is significantly lower than the last time Landrieu was on the ballot. There are 171,736 fewer registered Democratic voters than there were in 2008, during the last U.S. Senate race. Meanwhile, Republicans have picked up 68,702 voters in that same time period.

I believe the two things leading to those reduced Democratic numbers are:  (1) The Katrina diaspora where so many A.A. folks in New Orleans ended up mainly in Houston Tx and Atlanta Ga and decided to stay in those cities, and (2) the continued reddening of the state getting it more in line with the other southern states.  It used to be that you could take a map of Louisiana and draw a horizontal line across the state boarders with that line centering on Alexandria La.  Anything above that line would be pretty much Republican with anything below the line, Acadiana and the metro Nola area being pretty much Democratic.  Now not so much.  Now it’s pretty much just Orleans parish which is predominantly Democratic.  Even with the reduced A.A. population it is still a majority A.A. city/parish.

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Remember the movie, UP? In it there was a particularly eloquent dog who could carry on conversations courtesy of his Up -- Squirrel“magic collar”. He could have the most lucid conversations until he saw a squirrel — at which time, after screeching “SQUIRREL!” his attention was completely lost.

This past week while the media and the opportunistic politicians were squealing “Squirrel!” over Ebola and who voted for whom in the 2012 Presidential election, there were plenty of attention-worthy issues slipping by totally unnoticed. So I thought I would devote today’s post to a couple of “desquirrelification” issues that have long-term consequences.

Medicare

Here’s an issue I bet you didn’t see this past week and you‘ll never see in a political ad because of the pornographic word that is “Obamacare”. There will be no increase in the Medicare Part B premium or deductible in 2015. A radical departure from 2000 through 2008 when the Medicare premium shot up 112 percent — jumping from $45.50 to $96.40.

The main reason, and yes, there are others, but the main reason premium growth has shown such a dramatic decline is the Affordable Care Act. Over the past four years, Medicare spending per capita has averaged only 0.8% a year — compared to an average growth rate of 6.3% a year from 2000 to 2008.

The ACA has also dramatically affected senior care with free preventative service such as mammograms and colonoscopies. In 2013 alone, Thirty-seven million seniors received free preventative services.

Add to that the 8.3 million seniors who have saved more than $12 Billion on their prescription drugs with an average savings of $1,443 per senior.

Here’s the real hidden acorn of truth that would propel the little tree rodents into onrushing traffic in a mad, suicidal squirrel rage: Since the enactment of the ACA, the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by 13 years! The Medicare Trustees now project the Trust Fund will remain solvent through 2030.

A particularly Republican squirrel...

A particularly Republican squirrel…

In the alternative fact-free universe inhabited by Faux News and talk radio devotees, they will never hear about the Medicare premiums or the fact that the number of companies competing to offer policies under the ACA will increase by 25 percent in 2015. They will never hear about it because the narrative has been and continues to be, the ACA is killing competition, but the truth is — competition is increasing.

In this alternative universe devoid of enlightenment, few, if any conservatives realize the premiums under the ACA are lower-than-expected, and that the ACA’s costs are also lower-than-expected — $104 Billion lower to be exact.

Obamacare’s competitive insurance marketplaces are actually doing what they promised to do: Forcing insurers to compete for customers by cutting costs. The Congressional Budge Office explains the cheaper-than-expected premiums because of:

[L]ower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than employment-based plans do.

That is an extraordinary sentence. Obamacare, a government program, is forcing insurers to run leaner and more cost-effective programs than the private sector, employer-based programs. Simply put: The government is more cost-effective than the private sector. Somewhere there is a squirrel that looks a lot like Paul Ryan whose little Ayn Randian head is exploding.

Tax Reform

Speaking of Paul Ryan and his innate squirrelliness, he has a new idea for the math associated with reviewing budgets. Here’s the idea: Ryan wants the CBO to always assume that tax cuts will pay for themselves. You read that sentence right — Paul Ryan wants to cook into the budget review process the overarching principle that tax cuts will pay for themselves.

That has NEVER happened — NEVER. It didn’t happen during Reagan’s term when he sold it to the country through Tax Cuts and Wars are one half public debt by 2019voodoo economics. It didn’t happen during Dubya’s term when the Heritage Foundation proclaimed that the Bush tax cuts would “pay off the national debt.” In fact, according to the CBO, the Bush tax cuts and his credit card wars of choice will account for one-half of all the public debt by 2019.

Now Paul Ryan is a smart guy — why on earth would he scurry into this squirrel’s nest? Simple, this type of dynamic scoring would only be able to look at how much a bill cost in total, and not provision-by-provision. This type of dynamic scoring is also very complicated especially when you start out with the loblolly, upside-down, backassed assumption that tax cuts pay for themselves.

So why is Ryan pursuing this change — it is a way to hide a multitude of corporate greed, tax loopholes, and corporate welfare while getting an unrealistic favorable political talking point. Better said: It is a way to hide from view the true impact of tax cuts and conversely force cuts in the social safety net while acquiring tongue splinters from performing fellatio on corporate boards. A remarkable feat even if the squirrelly fellow does P90X.

There are many other examples, but there just isn’t enough room or time and I’m having trouble keeping my attention focused. Squirrel!

So enjoy your Tuesday and feel free to take this conversation in any direction you may desire.

Good Monday, Widdershins. It’s getting close to Election Day for Senators, Representatives and Governors all over these United States. Now, I know it’s not National “I Told You So” Day yet, but it might as well be.

Female voters powered President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in 2012, as Democrats leaned heavily on social issues to rally single women and suburban moms to the polls.

But with two weeks until Election Day, the president’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority.

In battleground states across the country, Obama is underwater with female voters — especially women unaffiliated with a political party — and it’s making it harder for Democrats to take advantage of the gender gap, according to public polling and Democratic strategists.

The “gender gap” is what the media calls the tendency for women to vote Democratic, which, if female voter turnout is high, overcomes the tendency of men to vote Republican. By “social issues,” the article is referring to this:

Democrats in this trio of states [Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado] have focused heavily on abortion rights, contraception access and other female-targeted wedge issues.

It’s not clear whether those efforts are translating. Rob Collins, the executive director of the Senate GOP campaign operation, said Thursday he believes the messaging efforts around female reproductive rights have turned off swing women voters in these states. “This isn’t the only thing that women care about,” he said. “This is why they have not been able to maximize their gains despite massive investments on this issue.”

Somehow, women don’t seem to be that enthusiastic about coming out to vote for “abortion rights.” Gee, I wonder why? Maybe these Democratic strategists should have asked women in their states what the top issues for them are right now instead of assuming it’s All About Abortion?

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