The Widdershins

Happy Friday, Widdershins.  I know that this is a bit of a departure from form, but I felt the need to post some commentary today.  I promise to put up a Lazy Sunday as well.

This has been quite a week for our Republican contenders, and next week should bring Marco Rubio’s announcement that he’s ready to take the plunge.  In the meantime, Jeb is flirting with an announcement while he vacuums up as much money as he can find.  While declaring himself to be “my own man”, he has surrounded himself with advisors of all stripes who have all save one worked for his father and his brother.  Clearly Jeb plans to wrest the nomination the old-fashioned way – e.g., he’ll purchase it.

Jeb is aware that the Grand Old Pachyderm has a problem with Hispanics, but he is convinced that he can plow his way through that.  After all, his wife is Mexican, and while he was Governor of Florida, he winked and nodded while thousands upon thousands of undocumented migrant workers poured into the state to pick crops for his Big Agra contributors.  It’s unimportant that these people worked for scant wages, as the property owners of the various towns and cities could handle providing basic necessities, medical care and public schools.  Jeb was the first Governor to authorize the issuing of driver’s licenses to undocumented people, despite the fact that it is clearly prohibited by Florida’s state Constitution.  One quick executive order took care of that problem.

If all of this was not enough, Jeb further endeared himself to our Latino population when it came to light that he had checked “Hispanic” on his voter registration.  Well, ¡ hola, Heb!  Bienvenidos á Miami.  (He would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.)

Jeb is actually from a fine old New England  – the Bushes are not Texans, but rather carpetbaggers  – family of which at least one member was a renown slaver, as appears to be the case with many of that ilk.  Jeb’s was a man named Thomas “Beau” Walker (namesake for H.W. and W. alike?), who was such a miserable human being that his demise came by a mutiny aboard one of his vessels.  I suppose that given such a choice, I would consider an alternate description as well.

Senator Rand Paul decided to leap-frog Jeb and had already announced his plans to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and has spent the rest of the week mired in some pretty messy interviews.  He has had three separate occasions where he got quite testy with some of his favorite targets:  the mainstream media (Savannah Guthrie), the DNC, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.  He spurned rescue from Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly, despite their best efforts.  Hannity attempted to fluff things over, but Megyn Kelly called him out and told him that women reporters were not treating him unfairly.  Paul sputtered something about the “contentious nature of interviews”, but she never let him off the hook.  When he talked over her, she talked over him.  She also asked if he perhaps had become a bit emotional.  It was a thing of beauty, and you can access the film through the above link.  Lessons learned?  Nah, probably not by Rand.  As far as the rest of us, and especially Savannah Guthrie are concerned, never ever ever ask Rand why he doesn’t believe in his last stated position, as he is admittedly a bit thin of skin and short of temper.  You know, just what we need in a President…….

Personally, I just can’t wait for Marco Rubio to announce.  Rumors have it that he plans no cuts, big child care credits, and a top tax tier of 35%.  We shall see what we shall see, as my grandfather used to say.  Maybe there will be some explanation for why he voted against the immigration bill that he sponsored.  At least, maybe there will be some water close by.  But any way he goes, he will maintain a direct path toward a head-on collision with Jeb, and that will play poorly in Florida.  Loyalties will be divided, friendships strained, and donors diluted.  It will be one helluva mess, even by Florida standards.  So let the games begin.

This is an open thread.

Good holidays, Widdershins.  Just occasionally, the calendars of two great religions blend holidays into one time period, and this weekend is one such instance.  Christianity has marked Holy Week, which will terminate tomorrow, and Judaism commenced Passover on Friday, and it will end next week.  So, for a three day period – yesterday, today, and tomorrow – we are at a time and a place that is sacred to both traditions.

There is a fair amount of religious music available for these occasions, as well as secular music for new beginnings.  Let’s post those and anything else that comes to mind while enjoying a two day break from the commotion surrounding us.

This is an open thread.

(1) Dayanu – Trad. Passover Song

(2) Jesus Christ Is Risen Today – Trad. Easter Hymn

(3) Down In the River To Pray – Appalachian Folk Hymn

(4) Beginnings – Chicago

(5) From the Beginning – Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

(6) Brand New Day – Sting

(7) Foggy Dew – Trad. Irish song of the Easter Rebellion, 1916


Of course I’m referring to “Professor” Harold Hill from the musical The Music Man, and his supposed hometown of Gary Indiana and him having graduated from the Gary Conservatory, Gold-Medal Class of ’05, the inside joke being that the town wasn’t founded until 1906!  I am not saying ole Harold was gay because we know he was busy chasing down Marian the Librarian!  But I don’t think Harold would want to claim citizenship in a state that feels it has to legislate its hatred of “others” by passing a “religious freedom” (referred to Religious Freedom Restoration Act) law.

Folks have said the law that Indiana passed is no different than laws passed by another 19 or so states, and some of those same folks have said it’s just like the bill passed in Congress and signed by President Clinton, but the Indiana law is different.

There are several differences between the Indiana law (I’m just going to type Indy from here on out) and the others that have been passed.  Judd Legum over at ThinkProgress says one of the big ones lies in Section 9 of the law.

Under that section, a “person” (which under the law includes not only an individual but also any organization, partnership, LLC, corporation, company, firm, church, religious society, or other entity) whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense… regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

Every other Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to disputes between a person or entity and a government. Indiana’s is the only law that explicitly applies to disputes between private citizens. This means it could be used as a cudgel by corporations to justify discrimination against individuals that might otherwise be protected under law.  (bolding/italics mine)

Matt Anderson, an Indy trial lawyer said that difference ” opens up ‘the path of least resistance among its species to have a court adjudicate it in a manner that could ultimately be used to discriminate…’.”  Pardon my language but that’s some scary shit!

As the piece goes on to say, Arizona has a similar law but when the lege there tried to expand the law to purely private disputes, Jan Brewer the governor had enough sense to veto it.  I don’t believe her veto was over any great love of the LGBT community, but rather from the probably earful she was getting from the Arizona business community and its leaders.  It would have been a serious hit to Arizona’s tourism industry as well as its ability to attract newer and more forward-thinking companies.  The same will now apply to Indy.  Also, as Legum says “When the federal law was signed in 1993, it was thought “to be about benign and relatively uncontroversial matters, such as allowing Muslim jail inmates to wear closely trimmed beards, or assuring that churches could feed homeless people in public parks.” .

But that’s not the case now.  Writing for The American Constitution Society, Steve Sanders of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law wrote:

Setting aside the problem that some religious business owners will now think they have a green light to discriminate, the real problem with Indiana’s RIFRA has been less about its substance than its politics – specifically, the motivations of some of its most ardent proponents.


… RIFRAs like Indiana’s are being impelled by the politics of anti-gay backlash.  Their most ardent supporters come from an increasingly angry, marginalized, and shrill subset of Christian conservative activists.  These activists want to stick a symbolic thumb in the eye of judges who struck down anti-gay marriage laws, along with the elected officials, business and cultural leaders, and ordinary citizens who have produced breathtakingly rapid change on the questions of marriage rights and LGBT equality generally.  Indeed, one sign of this progress, even in Indiana, has been the mainstreaming of outrage (from the NCAA to Angie’s List) against the very idea of anti-gay discrimination.

Now Indy is one of the states that does not have a law on the books that says you cannot discriminate against LGBT folks, so some will say that businesses and individuals were already free to discriminate against LGBT people if they wished to.  And this law gives them even more of a legal defense to fall back upon.

And speaking of those economic issues that might arise from this bill’s passage…well here’s a partial list of companies and groups who have gone on the record about how unhappy they are with this and who knows how many may have communicated privately to the Governor, members of the legislature and of the Indiana business community.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good afternoon, Widdershins! In case some of you aren’t aware, our Uppity is back and in fine, fine form. Take a gander here.

Speaking of Uppity, our Fredster posted this over at her place. Worth the five minutes it takes to read, but here’s the highlight for me:

Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee, and she will win the 2016 election.

When you analyze the objective conditions of the Republican Party today and most likely over the next two years and compare them to Clinton’s strengths, it’s hard not to make such a prediction with confidence.

And here are said strengths:

Clinton has a built-in advantage — her gender. It now looks that she will use the glass-ceiling theme to connect with millions of people who think that the disparities in opportunity, income and talent-based achievement between men and women is not only unfair, but damaging to all women, two-income families and the economy in general.

Some percentage of Americans, likely a large one, would like to cast a historic vote. When polling points to Americans wanting “change,” what bigger change than a woman as president?

Clinton is white. Yes, President Obama was elected twice, with millions of votes over the 50 percent victory threshhold. But looking at the election data that show a precipitous drop in his support among white voters, relative to past Democratic candidates, one can infer some racial bias in a sliver of the electorate. Clinton will be able to attract those voters simply because she is not an African-American man.

In terms of the Latino vote, even though many Republicans are counting on him, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (Fla.) craven flip-flopping is not likely to endear him to many Hispanics outside of Miami. Conversely, Clinton is hugely popular among Hispanics, as is her husband. She’s been a steadfast supporter of immigrant rights and was Latino voters’ favorite during the 2008 primaries. She will sweep the Hispanic vote.

As I used to say in 2008…Duh f*cking duh. If you have any political savvy whatsoever, drawing these conclusions is difficult to avoid, if not impossible. The previously-ironclad Republican strategy of gathering the middle-to-upper-class white male vote, according to exit polls, was successful in 2012…and, yet, The Glove still lost. Stuck in the fake 50’s in their heads, the Republicans refuse to understand that the time of the WMASP is ending, and that June Cleaver will never greet them at the door sporting pearls, pumps, a martini and an apron again. We women belong in the House…the White House!

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m back.  The wedding was lovely, and I am almost-but-not-quite caught up on sleep at this point.  But as happens more and more, this week has been a difficult one for the world.  The Israeli election is in the rearview mirror, and things will go as they go hereafter – it’s well above my paygrade.  The Republican race to whatever is officially off and running, with Jeb “I’m my own man” Bush grasping firmly to his roots for dollars and advice, and Ted “I hate Obamacare but now I’ve signed up for it, yet voted to repeal my coverage” Cruz launching his act in front of a captive audience of Liberty University students.  All of the aforementioned events have suddenly seemed of less immediate import since Germanwings flight 9525  fell from the skies, taking all 150 souls aboard from those who knew and loved them.

I admit that I am as baffled as everyone else as to why an apparently normal person would deliberately and agonizingly drop a plane into a pristine mountain.  There are possible medical implications, as some brain tumors affecting the temporal lobe may provoke sudden changes in behavior, though most are considerably more subtle.  A proper autopsy of Andreas Lubitz will likely be impossible, so all are simply left to wonder.  I’m certain that there will be an exhaustive investigation, and I’m equally certain that the findings will at least initially mean little to those who lost family and friends in such a cruel fashion.  The final moments aboard the aircraft had to be terrifying.

So, let’s spend today searching for solace in song, in hopes that in comforting ourselves we may project peace outward.  Otherwise, please feel free to consider this to be the usual open thread.

(1) Dies Irae – Gregorian Chant

(2) Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

(3) Song for Adam – Jackson Brown

(4) Fire and Rain – James Taylor

(5) Let It Be – The Beatles

(6) Farewell, My Friend – Dennis Wilson




Dressed for Spring - L Diane Johnson

It’s spring and time for those #%&#$ allergies!

Good Wednesday to you Widdershins!  Yes, it’s moi here to do a post!

With chat probably recovering from her granddaughter’s wedding and with Prolix most probably still having some computer issues, I thought I would try to help out by sharing a couple of things that I saw on the internet lately.  Now I’m still having some medical things going on myself and one of them, sort of precludes me from prolonged sitting, if you get my drift.  Nevertheless, let’s take a look at a couple of things that I spied with my little eyes.

Oy vey!  Who gnu? (Such a nice boy!)

So if you are single, heterosexual and looking for that someone special there’s been the social app for your phone, Tinder.  Tinder uses facebook profiles to match up people with similar interests, common friends and such.

Tinder allows the users to anonymously like or reject potential matches using a simple swiping gesture. If two users are interested in each other, it is a “match” and Tinder introduces the two users and allows them to chat. Subscription-exclusive features allow users to undo “swipes” and search the network globally.

Well David Yarus, a twenty-something millennial entrepreneur who happens to be Jewish saw Tinder for the first time and he thought “Eureka!”.  He knew how to take that app and make it something better and directed more toward the young Jewish community of millennials.  And so with that idea he created the app JSwipe.  He describes the typical JSwipe user:

Mr. Yarus describes typical JSwipe users as “millennial Jews around the world whose grandparents and mothers are saying, ‘When are you going to marry someone Jewish?’ ”

He counts himself among the target audience. Though Mr. Yarus grew up in an observant Jewish household in Miami Beach and attends a synagogue in the tradition of the Carlebach spiritual movement in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, he calls himself “post-affiliation.” (“I don’t do labels,he said.)

The Times article describes it this way:

Started last April (during Passover), the app is a faddish take on the age-old desire to marry within the tribe. Instead of attributes like favorite movies, users indicate their degree of Jewishness (among them: Just Jewish, Orthodox and Willing to Convert).Jewish wedding

The app is very similar to Tinder in that you right-swipe to show some interest in a possible match or left-swipe to kind of go “Meh”.  But it does it with a twist:

Swipe right and a Star of David with a happy face appears; swipe left and it wears a frown. When a couple match, animated figures appear doing the hora.

So if your bubbe in Boca is after you about when you are going to find that nice (Jewish) boy or girl, tell her you’ll take a swipe at it.  ;-)


* * * * * * *


Okay, enough is enough “progressives” and
members of the “Warren Wing”

Or to paraphrase Charles Pierce in Esquire:

Please Leave Elizabeth Warren Alone
In which we appeal for calm and for the Senator Professor to stay where she is.

Actually, Charles Pierce and at Shakesville, both have a problem with this.  In case you are not aware, the Boston Globe came out with three different articles in which they argue that Elizabeth Warren should or needs to run for President.

Anna Galland of wrote:

Warren should run. Our country will be better off if she does. She would be a strong candidate — one who injects valuable ideas into the conversation and ensures the kind of debate our country needs. And she could win. [Note:  no she couldn’t]

Put simply, this moment was made for Elizabeth Warren.

…To be clear: Senator Warren has said she’s not running for president, and we take her for her word. But we also believe she’s open to persuasion.  (bolding and italics mine-Fred)

As Melissa said (putting herself into the shoes of the Globe folks and their thinking?)

Our country needs her. (It’s her duty to run.) Clinton must be stopped. (And Warren is the only one who can do it.) Her party needs her. (But not so much she shouldn’t risk a long career in public service to do this thing we want her to do RIGHT NOW.)

Charles Pierce puts forth even more arguments against the idea of a Warren run. (including the fact that the woman has said NO so many times!)

Pierce quotes part of the Globe editorial:

But Barack Obama overcame Clinton’s advantages in 2008, and Warren or another candidate still could in 2016. Even if they don’t..

And slaps that idea down immediately saying:

OK, stop right there. The only reason for anyone to put themselves through the torture course we call a presidential campaign is if they judge themselves to have a realistic chance of winning. “Even if they don’t…” is not a factor. Nobody has a responsibility to undertake this exercise merely to “frame the debate,” or to “toughen up the nominee,” or to give bored political journalists an opportunity to pad the expense report. Any estimate of a politician’s chance that includes this phrase is a sucker’s play.

The Globe article goes on to say that Warren “has made closing the economic gaps in America her main political priority, in a career that has included standing up for homeowners facing illegal foreclosures and calling for more bankruptcy protections. If she runs, it’ll ensure that those issues take their rightful place at the center of the national political debate.”, to which Pierce corrrectly responds that she can do that and more while she stays in the Senate.

Pierce goes on to say that he’s seen no data that indicates Warren would be a stronger opponent to Hillary in the primaries than Jim Webb or Martin O’Malley.  Pierce closes his piece with what I think is the most important part of his arguments:

I think she’s being set up for a fall here. If she doesn’t run, it will be said of her that she doesn’t truly have the courage of her convictions in the areas most important to her, and on the issues that are closest to her heart. If she runs and she loses, then it will be said that those issues are not the kind that motivate voters, and they will slide into a morass of weaselspeak, never to be heard clearly again. Leave the woman alone, please. She has no obligation to give you all a cat-fight because you think that’s what democracy demands.  (Bolding mine)

dont know batshit crazy

I’ll close with this oh-so-lovely youtube clip.  Although it’s about Brit-Brit, we’ll say it’s for Elizabeth Warren.  I apologize to each and every one of you ahead of time for this!

Okay this is a totally open thread.  Please take it in whatever direction you chose to go.

Good Monday, all! I hope you all had a great weekend, and that Chatblu is taking a well-deserved siesta after a very hard several weeks of wedding work.

Well, it looks like Benjamin Netanyahu (otherwise known as “Bibi”) is once again, Prime Minister of Israel. And an unwelcome victory it is for those of us who would like to hear some other voices on the topic of figuring out what the h*ll to do about the camps, Hamas and the unrelenting hatred of Israel’s neighbors. Exit polls seemed to suggest that the Zionist Union was close to, or slightly leading, Bibi’s right-wing Likud Party. But either the vote was tampered with, or Bibi’s last-minute fear-mongering won the day.

The Likud victory came after initial exit polls from three Israeli television stations on March 17 showed the top two parties in a virtual tie. That result would have itself represented a vast improvement for Likud, which had been polling in the 20 to 23-seat range as recently as last week.

But official returns that came in hours later showed Likud emerging as the clear victor. Netanyahu now has a relatively easy path to forming a coalition of his so-called “natural partners” on the right and the religious parties, along with the center-right Kulanu party.

In his acceptance speech on the night he was re-elected, Netanyahu stated that there would never be a Palestinian state while he is Prime Minister. Well! You can bet our Dear Leader was Not Amused, and he made sure everyone knew about it.

“We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” the president said in an interview with The Huffington Post on Friday.

Though he pledged to keep working with the Israeli government on military and intelligence operations, Obama declined to say whether the United States would continue to block Palestinian efforts to secure statehood through the United Nations. In a phone conversation the two had on Thursday, he said he indicated to Netanyahu that “it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible.”

The idea of blocking the UN effort is to get all interested parties to the table and make them negotiate. Obama was essentially saying that Bibi’s statements made it seem like this will no longer happen…and in that case, the US may no longer block the UN efforts of the “Palestinians,” which could help ease their way into a bloodless (at least at first) coup.

The problem I have with this reaction is that I don’t believe the mythical “two-state solution,” a naive creation of those who believe facts not in evidence, will EVER happen. Certainly not while Hamas in in charge of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more, angry Arabs camped in Gaza, claiming a right to the land that is dubious at best, and murderous at worst. In addition, I would hope that no Israeli politician, right, left or center, thinks that Hamas is a genuine partner for peace.

So Bibi simply told the truth, and shamed everyone. The world will not thank him for it.

This is an open thread.

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