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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sorry ladies, your nice little war is a loser

by digby

The furious pushback on The War on Women among Republicans on This Week from virtually everyone says two things: the GOP doesn't want this on the table in 2016, which makes sense since there will likely be a woman on the ticket. Unfortunately, it probably also signals what the establishment is going to hold responsible for the loss of the Senate should that happen.

Check it out:
STEPHANOPOULOS: So is the Democrats' "war on women" charge falling flat this year? Add it all up, Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight team gives Republicans a 62 percent of taking the Senate, up 4 points since last week.

So a little more movement in the Republican direction this week. I want to bring that last question to Stephanie Schriock, and this idea that the "war on women" just isn't taking hold this year.

SCHRIOCK: Well, that's not what we're seeing at all. And we're seeing continued large gender gaps in places like North Carolina and New Hampshire, you know, even in Wisconsin recently in the governor's race, where not only is Scott -- or excuse me; Scott Walker, you know, he's starting to run away from his record because he knows that the policies that he has supported and the policies that the Republicans have supported are so bad that they're trying to blur that they took these votes or they signed these bills.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- the gender gap is much smaller than it's been in past elections.

SCHRIOCK: Only in a few. And the truth is, you know, we still see Democrats definitely winning women across the country --

MATALIN: No, they're not. They're winning single women and they were -- by they're winning women as a cohort is because of the disproportionate minority support.

You have a horrible gender gap, men don't like you. You've got a double digit men against Obama and the female vote, if you're married, if you have kids, all of that, they'll -- those women are opposed to Obama, who is on the ticket. And the gap that we typically saw -- I don't know what numbers you're looking at. The ABC poll has that three -- most three in the margin of error of women that are --


SCHRIOCK: -- individual races, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, New Hampshire, Michigan -- Gary Peters against Terri Lynn Land, we are seeing gender gaps. Women are going to decide these races. They're going to decide it on issues of economic stability and they're looking for --

MATALIN: Why do you only ever talk about abortion on demand and contraception if you think that women are more than a homogeneous herd --


SCHRIOCK: -- health care is part of an economic future. We talk about equal pay and minimum wage and you bet we talk about access to health care --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- bring this to you. You've seen Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Iowa, still all pretty close. But Republicans maintaining an edge now in all of those critical key states right now.

So is this the Republicans' race to lose at this point?

And what worries you about how they could lose it?

KRISTOL: I think Republicans could win the Senate. I think they'll win it pretty comfortably. They'll do it mostly by doing no harm at this point. President Obama's dragging the Democrats down.

I do think Democrats have made a mistake. The upscale consultants in Washington have said war on women worked in 2012. It'll work again this year.

But it -- the thing -- (INAUDIBLE) Republican consultant said to me the other night, thank God they're running war on women and it's not war on working class ads. If they ran a more economic populace message, they would do better than this kind of upscale single 27-year-old women are going to be deprived of contraception by Republicans, which is just silly and implausible.

Look at the Republicans who are under -- look at the Republicans who are underperforming, incidentally: Georgia, right? Where Republicans are at some risk, nominated a very wealthy business man.

What is the -- what are the attacks on him that are working? They're not war on women --


KRISTOL: -- outsourcing. It's the Romney type attacks that are working.

So I'm happy that the Democrats are going down this war on women road and not focusing on the economic populace issue.

SMILEY: That's a good point. And I think that issue would probably play better. And a lot of the reasons it might not be the top of the agenda is that Democrats, respectfully, know that they haven't even done everything they could have done on this issue.

The slogan that it could have been worse is not a winning slogan. And I think the economy is certainly better now that we expected it would have been a couple years ago. I think the president gets some credit for helping put what policies that have turned this economy around slowly.

Having said that, there's been no real fight even by Democrats for increasing the minimum wage to a living wage in this country. That measure can only go so far if you don't have the record to back that up.

There's a front-page story, George, as you know, in "The New York Times" today. They talk about the --


SMILEY: -- exactly, that the black vote is what the Democratic Party is relying upon now to save the Senate. News flash: if you're relying on the black vote, in a midterm election -- and I'm not suggesting that black voters don't care about this -- but if you're relying on that vote, then I think it's uninspired because we have double- and triple-digit unemployment in the African American community.

And again, if the message is something other than employment and what we're going to do for you, then what's the reason to go vote?

SCHRIOCK: Now this is not the message in North Carolina, in Georgia, in Kentucky, in Louisiana. We've got candidates -- we keep saying the war on women is only about contraception. The war on women is a construct about equal pay, minimum wage and access to health care and jobs. And what we're seeing in Georgia, by the way, where you've got David Perdue (ph), who has a terrible business record, Michelle Nunn, who's a common sense leader, who's going to work across party lines, we see a race that's incredibly close. The momentum is on Michelle's side. The African American community is excited. And EMILY's List folks have decided we're going to double down and actually --


MATALIN: -- Colorado where "The Denver Post," no conservative publication called the incumbent, Mark Uterus (ph), for being such a single issue abortion on demand, sex selection abortions. So yet and going to your point, when you have this identity politics, you're also losing Hispanics on the same grounds, it being -- a cohort being treated so passively and the presumption, like there's a presumption about what women prioritize, the presumption that Hispanics prioritize. (INAUDIBLE).

It's economic --

SMILEY: But if you're black or brown, let's be frank about this. If you're black or brown, other than helping to save the Democrats' hide, give me three good reasons and you turn out the vote this time.

Now I'll catch hell for saying that --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- watching Bill Kristol nod his head --


SMILEY: No, I am not suggesting -- I'm not suggesting that people ought to stay home and sit on their hands. What I'm suggesting is that neither party has focused clearly enough on the issues of black and brown voters to inspire them and motivate them to turn out in 2014. And we may see the same thing in 2016.

Mary Matalin remains one of the most malignant creatures in American politics, her spin so ugly and so obvious that I can feel my gorge rising automatically once she starts to speak. But you have to love the idea that she can parse the electorate in such as way so as to say blandly that Democrats are "winning women as a cohort is because of the disproportionate minority support" as if that means something and nobody challenges it.

Hey, we're winning all the white women ("the right women") by a big margin. And we're winning white men like crazy. In fact, you wouldn't win a thing if you had to depend on getting the votes of Real America ...

And then she oozes sanctimony about "the Hispanic vote" as if the Republicans aren't working themselves into such a frenzy over immigration that they've forced the issue off the political map. What a loathesome pundit.

This looks to me to be the set up for the big fall guy (gal) over this election loss. (A loss which was probably inevitable seeing as it's in the 6th year of a Democratic presidency and the swing seats in play are close margin seats.) It's important to realize this because many Democrats are anxious to spin this election as a repudiation of progressive messaging so they can get on to the 2016 Clinton campaign where she will be running as a woman who is above all those other silly women's issues that everybody knows don't really matter.

Meanwhile, the lunacy on the right continues apace:

KRISTOL: One -- I think one underreported aspect of this year's race is do the Republicans have high-quality, interesting younger candidates? Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Joni Ernst in Iowa --

Oh dear God ...

The decision making process is different for girls and boys

by digby

I hate to say it, but well ... duh:
Neuroscientists have uncovered evidence suggesting that, when the pressure is on, women bring unique strengths to decision making...

Across a variety of gambles, the findings were the same: Men took more risks when they were stressed. They became more focused on big wins, even when they were costly and less likely.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol appear to be a major factor, according to Ruud van den Bos, a neurobiologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands. He and his colleagues have found that the tendency to take more risks when under pressure is stronger in men who experience a larger spike in cortisol. But in women he found that a slight increase in cortisol seemed actually to improve decision-making performance.

Are we all aware when our decision making skews under stress? Unfortunately not. In a 2007 study, Stephanie D. Preston, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, and her colleagues told people that after 20 minutes, they would have to give a talk and would be judged on their speaking abilities. But first, they had to play a gambling game. Anxious, both men and women initially had a harder time making good decisions in the game.

But the closer the women got to the stressful event, the better their decision making became. Stressed women tended to make more advantageous decisions, looking for smaller, surer successes. Not so for the stressed men. The closer the timer got to zero, the more questionable the men’s decision making became, risking a lot for the slim chance of a big achievement.

The men were also less aware that they had used a risky strategy. In the last few minutes of the game, Dr. Preston interrupted each person immediately after he or she had just lost money. She asked people to rate how risky each of their possible choices had been, including the unsuccessful one they had just made. Women were more likely to rate their losing strategy as a poor one.

Consult folk wisdom on this and you'll see that people have noticed this since ... forever. (Of course our patriarchal society chose to characterize these different approaches as signs of men's "strength" and women's "weakness" but that's a different story. And really, far more important ...)

To borrow a macho sports metaphor, there's a time for a bold Hail Mary and there's a time for grinding it out a few yards at a time.  It would be good for the human race if there was a better balance of temperament in the halls of power. We need all the help we can get.

*And yes, all of these observations are tremendously broad and individuals of either sex cannot be easily defined by them.  Still, it's interesting to see neuroscience back up some of the differences in the way men and women often tend to go about organizing their thoughts and greeting challenges that people have "known" for ages.


Can't we all just get along?

by digby

This article by Reza Aslan and Chris Stedman points out just how much in common Muslims and atheists have:

Lost in the venomous arguments that have recently been flying back and forth between Muslims and atheists – on HBO and on op-ed pages, in the United States and beyond – is just how much these two marginalized, underrepresented groups have in common.

According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least favorably viewed religious or ethical groups in the US. Both communities are severely underrepresented in the general population – roughly 2% of Americans identify as atheists, compared to 1% for Muslims. Both face rising levels of animosity from the general public. And both tend to be defined by the loudest voices within their communities.

The media may be saturated with images of Islamic terrorists and suicide bombers, but a 2011 Gallup survey concluded that Muslims are actually more likely than any other religious or ethical group in America to reject violence against civilians. At the same time, the vocally “anti-theist” atheists who dominate the airwaves and the bestseller lists may get all the press, but a 2013 study from the University of Tennessee indicated that less than 15% of atheists fall into the “anti-theist” category.

So why hasn’t there been more dialogue and solidarity between Muslims and atheists? Can’t we all just get along?

This is not surprising. Aside from the fact that they are both despised by everyone else, they are, more importantly, all humans. I guess I should have said this before now since everyone seems to require that extremism is called out by those who share a common identity: the anti-theists don't speak for me. I am of the school that says we need a secular civic life so that everyone has freedom to believe what they choose, including those of us who are atheists or members of minority religions. But I have no interest in battling believers of any religion on a theological basis. In fact, it strikes me as absurd.

People believe many things that I find offensive and I take issue with those specific beliefs, even those which are religious in nature. But I have found over the years that painting any religion with a broad brush is so imprecise as to be useless as a form of argument. I take on the beliefs of social conservatives and extremists of all religions without compunction. But religion itself? A specific religion itself? It's pointless since the beliefs are as varied as the people who subscribe to it. Once you ignore that part of it it transforms very easily into bigotry.


Sunday funnies

by digby

Speaking of the surgeon general:

And this too:

Conservative priorities

by digby

Here's a good example of what they really care about:
Crowley asked how the sequester hurt funding for the Centers for Disease Control and how the National Rifle Association's opposition to President Obama's nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, also hurt the American response.

"We haven’t had a Surgeon General — who is the nation’s leading public health official, at least the voice of it — for a year. Some Democrats and some Republicans had opposed the particular surgeon general the president had nominated. Do you think it would have helped A. If NIH and CDC had had a little more money and B. Had there been a surgeon general to kind of calm what has been the fear of Ebola?" Crowley asked on CNN's "State of the Union."

"Of course we should have a surgeon general in place," Cruz responded. "And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist."

"And a doctor," Crowley jumped in.

Cruz conceded that Murthy is a doctor, but he then called him a "crusader against second amendment rights."

He isn't a "crusader" against second amendment rights. He's a public health official who believes in science. And that means he believes that the epidemic of gun deaths in this country is a public health issue.

And frankly, right now, it's a bigger public health issue than Ebola which has killed exactly on person inside the US so far.


The terrorists have super-powers

by digby

... or, at least, they have extremely sophisticated technology:

Cheney says that he and his doctor, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner, turned off the device’s wireless function in case a terrorist tried to send his heart a fatal shock. Years later, Cheney watched an episode of the Showtime series “Homeland” in which such a scenario was part of the plot.

This isn't surprising. Cheney and his crew routinely thought that the fictional series "24" was a realistic depiction and he was well-known to have been so overwhelmed by Ken Burns' "Civil War" documentary back in the 90s that he sent it around to his generals in the first Gulf War so they could learn something about tactics and strategy.

Dick Cheney is a little bit nuts. Not that we didn't know that ...


God has wonderful plan: $#!+ happens

by Tom Sullivan

Psychologists at the Yale Mind and Development Lab explore the human tendency to believe that "everything happens for a reason." Not just religious believers think this, either. They found many atheists believe it as well:

This tendency to see meaning in life events seems to reflect a more general aspect of human nature: our powerful drive to reason in psychological terms, to make sense of events and situations by appealing to goals, desires and intentions. This drive serves us well when we think about the actions of other people, who actually possess these psychological states, because it helps us figure out why people behave as they do and to respond appropriately. But it can lead us into error when we overextend it, causing us to infer psychological states even when none exist. This fosters the illusion that the world itself is full of purpose and design.

That maybe puts too fine a point on it. People don't just do this in relation to others and to events. Growing up, I heard the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Man is a tool-making animal.” Man is also a pattern-seeking animal. We see faces in ink blots, madonnas in toast and in stains on buildings. We find animal shapes in the clouds and in the stars. We read messages in palms and tea leaves. And after a tragedy, we ask reflexively, "Why did this happen?" As if there is a why.

However, the human impulse to impose meaning on a chaotic world is both a blessing and a curse, the researchers find. It is comforting to believe there really are no accidents. But?

It tilts us toward the view that the world is a fundamentally fair place, where goodness is rewarded and badness punished. It can lead us to blame those who suffer from disease and who are victims of crimes, and it can motivate a reflexive bias in favor of the status quo — seeing poverty, inequality and oppression as reflecting the workings of a deep and meaningful plan.

Shit never just happens in this view. God has a wonderful plan for your life and financially blesses His elect, per the prosperity gospel. If you're poor? You didn't believe hard enough. Decades ago in Harpers, Peter Marin criticized the 1970s human potential movement for teaching that misfortune is a failure of consciousness:

... I listen for two hours in a graduate seminar to two women therapists explaining to me how we are all entirely responsible for our destinies, and how the Jews must have wanted to be burned by the Germans, and that those who starve in the Sahel must want it to happen, and when I ask them whether there is anything we owe to others, say, to a child starving in the desert, one of them snaps at me angrily: "What can I do if a child is determined to starve?"

Randians would feel right at home. The Yale researchers conclude:

If there is such a thing as divine justice or karmic retribution, the world we live in is not the place to find it. Instead, the events of human life unfold in a fair and just manner only when individuals and society work hard to make this happen.

Because sometimes the plan is, shit happens. End of sermon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies

Songs in the key of grief: Rudderless

By Dennis Hartley

Sad fact #3,476: Mass shootings have become as American as apple pie; so much so that they have spurred their own unique (and identifiably post-Columbine) film subgenre (Bang Bang You're Dead, Zero Day,Elephant, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Beautiful Boy, etc.). Not that its progenitor, the Grieving Parent Drama, hasn't been a Hollywood staple over previous decades; films like Don't Look Now, Ordinary People, The Sweet Hereafter, and The Accidental Tourist deal with the soul-crushing survivor's guilt that results from the loss of a child. The child's demise in those dramas was usually attributed to an accident, or a terminal illness. But it's a different world now. And so it is that we can addWilliam H. Macy's Rudderless to the former list, with a shrug and a sigh.

There is only brief exposition in the film's opening scene that alludes to the tragedy which lies at the heart of the story. A college student named Josh (Miles Heizer) sits alone in his dorm room with guitar in hand, playing and singing with fiery intensity as he records a demo of an original song into his laptop. He is visibly perturbed when he is interrupted; first by a fellow student who ducks his head in the door to say hey, then by a phone call from his father, an ad exec named Sam (Billy Crudup), who tries to talk his son into ducking his next class so he can join him to help celebrate the fact that he's just landed a big account (or something of that nature). When we next see Sam, he's alone at the bar, glancing at his watch...indicating Josh was a no-show. As he prepares to leave, something catches his eye on the bar's TV. There's been a mass shooting at Josh's college.

Josh, we hardly knew ye. But we will get to know him...through his songs, which Sam discovers after his ex-wife (Felicity Huffman) drops off a car load of their late son's musical equipment and cassette demos. It's now two years after the incident, and a decidedly more Jimmy Buffetized Sam is living on his docked boat, working odd jobs and wasting away every night in Margaritaville. He eventually steels himself to sift though Josh's demos, and discovers that his son not only had a gift for writing soulful lyrics, but for coming up with good hooks. He learns to play and sing Josh's tunes. At first, he does it as personal grief therapy, then one night he features one of the songs in an open-mic performance. A young musician (Anton Yelchin) is so taken that he hounds Sam until he forms a band with him (or are they really "forming" a father and son bond?)

 Perhaps not surprisingly, Macy's directorial debut is very much an "actor's movie", beautifully played by the entire cast (which also includes Laurence Fishburne, Selena Gomez, Ben Kweller, and Macy as a club manager). Crudup is a particular standout; this is his most nuanced turn since his breakout performance in the 1999 character study Jesus' Son. The script (co-written by the director along with Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison) could have used a little tightening (by the time the Big Reveal arrives in the third act, it lacks the intended dramatic import due to the overabundance of telegraphing that precedes it). Certain elements of the narrative reminded me of Bobcat Goldthwait's dark 2009 sleeper, World's Greatest Dad (recommended, especially for Robin Williams fans). Still, despite some hiccups and predictable plot points, Macy has fashioned an absorbing, moving drama, with a great soundtrack (composed by Eef Barzelay, Charlton Pettus, and Simon Steadman). The songs performed by the band are catchy...in a mid-1990s, Chapel Hill alt-rock kinda way. Macy's film is a sad song, but you can dance to it.

Previous posts with related themes:

Torn/ The Broken Circle Breakdown

Saturday Night at the Movies review archives

This war on leaks is unbelievable

by digby

Speaking of James Risen, get a load of this from the ACLU:
James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He's also currently under subpoena, possibly facing jail time, because of his reporting.

Specifically, he's being investigated because of an article on a CIA ploy to hinder Iran's quest for a nuclear bomb that went epically sideways and may have actually helped Iran along. 60 Minutes ran a great story on him this weekend, during which they cited a well-known statistic: the Obama administration has prosecuted more national security "leakers" than all other presidencies combined, eight to three.

But the story also prompted me to look into another figure, which is less well known and potentially more dramatic. Partially because of press freedom concerns, sentencing in media leak cases has historically been relatively light. Not so under President Obama. When it comes to sending these folks to jail, the Obama administration blows every other presidency combined out of the water – by a lot.

By my count, the Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution.

That's quite a record wouldn't you say?

Read on for the details. They will probably surprise you.


"It just seemed to me the war on terror was becoming increasingly bizarre"

by digby

Here's a must read interview with James Risen from Elias Isquith at Salon:
James Risen, the New York Times reporter responsible in part for the 2005 Times bombshell on the Bush administration’s use of warrantless surveillance — which is widely seen as one of the seminal pieces of journalism of its era — has plenty of experience when it comes to battling the federal government. Not only in his celebrated investigative reports but, perhaps more prominently, in the courts, where for years he’s held his ground in refusing government demands that he reveal a confidential source. 
For Risen, in other words, fighting the post-9/11 national security state is a full-time job, albeit one for which he never truly applied. But while he may be at a profound disadvantage when it comes to defending himself (and, some would say, his profession) in our federal courts, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” his new exposé of the malfeasance and waste behind the war on terror, offers ample evidence that he’s still a Pulitzer Prize winner when it comes to combat on the page... 
So here we are, more than a decade into the war on terror, and I’d guess that a lot of people think that at this point they know everything they need to know about how our government conducts counterterrorism and the growth of the national security state. But considering you wrote this book — which features a lot of new information — I’m guessing you’d disagree. 
Yes. I felt like we had this whole period, 13 years now, where we essentially “took the gloves off,” in Dick Cheney’s famous words, in order to fight a global war on terror. And what Cheney meant by that was deregulating national security, and what that meant was eliminating or reducing or relaxing the rules that had been put in place for 30 years, from the post-Watergate era, which were

At the same time, we were pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the war on terror, and what, to me, had not been getting much attention is how the combination of deregulating national security while pouring massive amounts of money into a new national security state was having enormous unintended consequences and leading to bizarre operations and a runaway new national security state. And I felt like that was not being reflected in a lot of the things people were writing about.
It just seemed to me the war on terror was becoming increasingly bizarre, and I didn’t feel like that was being captured in the press.
Read on ...

I can't wait to read his book because this subject is what animates me the most as I think about the War on Terror and America's role in it --- this idea of the expansions of the Deep State, without restraint, oversight or accountability. It's not just about money, it's about this organism (for lack of a better word) just operating on its own, with its own logic at the hands of individuals who might each have perfectly good motives but which ends up creating a monster nonetheless.

The problem is the empire and until we grapple with that we'll just be trying to contain this around the edges. It's important to try to contain it, of course. Every effort from the press or from whistleblowers like Edward Snowden helps curb its power. But we won't solve this without a thorough reassessment of our place in the world. And I have no idea how that's going to happen.

Anyway, it's good to see that Risen is talking about this.  It's not new but the post 9/11 ramp up after a period of slight calm after our long Cold War was over needs to be discussed.

As I said, it's not new...

Let's party like it's 1988

by digby

Willie Horton rides again:

[T]he reality is that Nebraska has a longstanding framework of relatively long prison sentences that are moderated by the good time law. Ashford has only played a minor role in shaping this framework, and the 2011 amendment that Ashford co-sponsored enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the state’s GOP governor. There is now an important debate going on in Nebraska about whether the state’s good time law should be amended once again, as Heineman argues, or whether the errors which led to Jenkins being released are best addressed within the Corrections Department, as Ashford appears to believe.

But it is absurd to suggest, as the GOP ad does, that Ashford is responsible for Jenkins’ release and the tragedy that soon followed. If his support for the state’s good time law makes Ashford responsible for Jenkins’ crimes, then Heineman and numerous other state lawmakers share that blame.

This one's right out of the Nixonian "law and order" racist appeal handbook. And it's depressing to see it deployed by the Republican party itself which I've been reassured by libertarians and moderate liberals everywhere is no longer a partisan issue since they are all on board with criminal justice reform. And I'm sure some of them are. But the minute it becomes useful to tickle the racist lizard brain with this stuff, they will not hesitate. It's evergreen.

Who's the civic illiterate, George?

by digby

Gird your loins ladies, George Will is wading into women's issues again:
One of the wonders of this political moment is feminist contentment about the infantilization of women in the name of progressive politics. Government, encouraging academic administrations to micromanage campus sexual interactions, now assumes that, absent a script, women cannot cope. And the Democrats’ trope about the Republicans’ “war on women” clearly assumes that women are civic illiterates.

Access to contraception has been a constitutional right for 49 years (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). The judiciary has controlled abortion policy for 41 years (Roe v. Wade, 1973). Yet the Democratic Party thinks women can be panicked into voting about mythical menaces to these things.


LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps.

The johns, that's right. We would be the johns -- no! We're not the johns. Well -- yeah, that's right. Pimp's not the right word.

OK, so, she's not a slut. She's round-heeled. I take it back. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/29/12]

Uh huh:

The Family Research Council hosted a panel discussion Wednesday on religious liberty in America. If you have paid any attention at all to the frantic warnings from FRC’s Tony Perkins that tyranny is on the march, you could have guessed what was coming. The overall theme of the conversation was that the HHS mandate for insurance coverage of contraception is a dire threat to religious freedom in America. So are the advance of marriage equality and laws against anti-gay discrimination – or the “sexual liberty agenda.”


"I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies."


One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative.


“This same administration said that the churches and the institutions they run, such as schools and let’s say adoption agencies, hospitals, that they have to provide for their employees free of charge, contraceptives, morning after pills, in other words abortive pills, and the like at no cost,” Romney said.


There has been a lot of talk about the Obama administration’s attack on the Catholic church,” Gingrich said. “The fact is Governor Romney insisted that Catholic hospitals give out abortion pills against their religious belief when he was governor. So you have a similar pattern.”

Now maybe there's little chance that any of these men are serious about banning birth control. Some of them, like Gingrich and Romney, seem to be using the term "abortion pill" as a red meat sleight of hand to entice their voters. Nonetheless, all of those quotes are sufficient to give the "civic illiterates" cause to think that any pro-life Republican who votes for "personhood" might be a tad hostile to contraception. After all, while it's true that the right to access contraception has been the law of the land for more than 40 years so has the right to have an abortion. And I don't think even George Will is so out of touch that he doesn't know that Republicans are as serious as a heart attack about reversing that right. Why should we believe they are only kidding when it comes to birth control? After all, people as different as Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum seem to think that women who use birth control are either sluts who "can hardly walk" or are unfortunately driven by their base desires and refuse to see that sex is supposed to be procreative.

The basis of the objection to abortion is an objection to women's agency. Reproductive freedom is intrinsic to that. There is no reason to assume that the people who are trying to end abortion rights are any less serious about ending the right to contraception. Any woman would be a fool to take that chance.

Oh, and George Will understands women's issues about as well as I understand video games. He makes a fool of himself every time.


Fear for all

by digby

I don't know what the practical application of this bit of knowledge is, but it's interesting.  It's the result of polling people around the world about what they fear the most:

Vox explains:

Each country seems to equate the greatest threat to them or their region with the greatest global threat. So what this ends up showing, in effect, are the largest threats to each of the polled countries, according to popular opinion. And, in that sense, many of these are pretty good assessments. 
Fairly developed countries, where economic inequality tends to be a problem — Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Argentina — tend to be worried about inequality. Ukraine and Pakistan see nukes as a big threat; both have gone to war relatively recently with adjacent nuclear powers (Russia and India). Japan, the only country to have been attacked by nuclear weapons, is still worried about them. 
Middle Eastern countries tend to be more worried about ethnic and religious tensions. Rapidly developing but polluted East Asia is concerned about the environment (an unsurprising fact if you've visited Beijing or Manila). And sub-Saharan African countries, where HIV infection rates are by far the highest, often see AIDS and other diseases as the world's biggest problems. People, it turns out, are pretty good at figuring out their country and region's own biggest problems — but then they generalize those problems to the rest of the world.

The US is equally terrified of religious and ethnic hatred, inequality and nuclear weapons.  We don't seem to fear environmental problems or disease although I'd guess that's changed in the last few weeks.

And the truth is that these are all problems for all of us.

QOTD: Amity Schlaes

by digby

There is apparently some kind of kerfuffle between some right wing economists and Paul Krugman which is not worth pursuing because it's stupid. But this quote from the perpetually wrong Amity Schlaes (the Laurie Mylroie of wingnut economics) is one for the ages:

[I and some others] signed a letter a few years ago suggesting that Fed policy might be off, and that inflation might result. Well, inflation hasn’t come on a big scale, apparently. Or not yet. Still, a lot of us remain comfortable with that letter, since we figure someone in the world ought always to warn about the possibility of inflation. Even if what the Fed is doing is not inflationary, the arbitrary fashion in which our central bank responds to markets betrays a lack of concern about inflation. And that behavior by monetary authorities is enough to make markets expect inflation in future.

Krugman must be laughing his ass off.  They cannot prove his point any more starkly than that.


Six Degrees of Ebola

by Tom Sullivan

Is America playing Six Degrees of Ebola yet? Connect yourself to someone on Amber Vinson's Frontier Airlines flight in six steps or fewer, then run around freaking out? (Something to play on a cruise, maybe?)

Best wishes for a swift recovery, of course, to the two caregivers infected in Texas. Yet Ebola fever (the psychological kind) has so gripped the country that articles are popping up with titles like, Ebola hysteria is going viral. Don't fall for these 5 myths. Fox News' Shepard Smith went off script the other day and urged viewers, "Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and television or read the fear provoking words online." Michael Hiltzik felt it necessary to write 6 ways to avoid being stupid about Ebola in this week's L.A. Times. His number five is pithy:

5. Listening to Rush Limbaugh may be hazardous to your health. As a one-stop shop of Ebola misinformation, you can't beat the guy. Limbaugh's only purpose is to stir up fear, alarm and mistrust of government among his listeners. Inform them, not so much.

But informing listeners was never the point. Fear, mistrust, alarm, and misinformation is right-wing talk's business model. It's what listeners tune in for. It's just not church in some circles -- you haven't been touched by the spirit -- unless the preacher works up the congregation with a mind-numbing, shouted cant into a hair-standing-on-end, ecstatic state followed by emotional catharsis.

Right-wing talk works the same way. A kind of addictive drug, maybe it has begun to lose its zing (along with Limbaugh's ratings). Perhaps over the years, the ginned-up, faux outrage peddled every day by Rush and his kin has lost its punch. Perhaps the fear-addicted (and fear peddlers) hungering for stronger stuff to give them that old rush again just found it in an ISIS and Ebola cocktail?

That and, as Digby pointed out yesterday, it's crazy season.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Because it's been that kind of week

by digby

... you need some red panda blogging:

A Dutch tabby cat nurses an orphaned red panda cub in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The panda's mother, Gladys, rejected her two cubs after they were born. The zoo-keepers initially put the cubs in an incubator, but one keeper's tabby cat had just given birth to four kittens, and the housecat was willing to nurse the newcomers.

QOTD: a bunch of lunatics

by digby

We had people who, I’ll repeat it, the creed of Hamas: We value death more than you value life. What? That’s their creed. Okay, well, part of their creed would be to bring persons who have Ebola into our country. It would promote their creed. And all this could be avoided by sealing the border, thoroughly. C’mon, this is the 21st century.

That's Congressman Joe Wilson.

Dave Weigel has gathered quotes from a whole cavalcade of lunatics spouting similar nonsense:

"What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car? A flight from Roberts International in Monrovia to JFK in New York is less than $2,000, meaning that the planning and infrastructure needed for such an attack is relatively trivial. This scenario may be highly unlikely. But so were the September 11 attacks and the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing, both of which resulted in the creation of a permanent security apparatus around airports."

That's the National Review.

Ok, I have to tune out for the rest of the day...


A profile in courage

by digby

Here's Republican Tom Foley when asked whether he accepts the scientific evidence on man made climate change:
"It doesn't really matter. It's happening. So we have to find solutions."
The press asked again. Here's his reply:
"From a policy point of view it really doesn't matter."
Asked again if he believes what "what 90-plus percent of scientists believe" about humans contributing to climate change:
"Listen, I'm not an expert on global warming. So I haven't had a chance to read all the reports."
It must be hell being held hostage to the Tea Party faction.

Countering wingnut lunacy with a progressive message. How novel!

by digby

Now we're talking!

This election isn’t about Joni Ernst or me, it’s about who would be best for Iowa. Take Social Security. My plan would make millionaires pay Social Security taxes on all their earned income, just like middle class families already do. That will keep Social Security strong and increase monthly benefits. Joni Ernst would rather privatize Social Security, risking benefits. Millionaires don’t need a Senator, you do, I’m Bruce Braley and I approve this message.

That's the difference between Braley and Ernst, right there, and it will say a whole lot about the "heartland" state of Iowa if they elect this Tea Partying extremist over Braley. But hey, perhaps you truly believe that making millionaires pay the same percentage of their taxes to Social Security as middle class working people and increasing monthly benefits for everyone is more "extreme" than this:

TPM’s Daniel Strauss dug up a candidate questionnaire Ernst filled out in 2012 in which she indicated that she would support “legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement” the healthcare reform law.
or this:

Among other stances, Ernst has endorsed impeachment for President Obama, expressed the belief that states could nullify federal laws, and supported “personhood” anti-abortion laws that would outlaw most forms of contraception. In addition, she’s slammed Medicaid recipients for not taking “personal responsibility for their health”—even though recipients have to apply for coverage—and talked extensively about “Agenda 21,” a decades-old U.N. recommendation for environmental sustainability that forms the basis for conspiracy-mongering on the far right.

She's full-fledged nuts. And to Braley's credit he's countering her nuttiness with a progressive policy like taxing millionaires and expanding Social Security. Good for him. There's no point in trying to "move right" when your opponent is a lunatic. You might as well run on something that will actually help people. And who knows? The people of Iowa might even be persuaded by it.


When Poppy carried Rush's bags

by digby

My friend tristero, blogger extraordinaire and talented composer (also known as Richard Einhorn) is in town for a performance of his master work "Voices of Light" at the Disney Hall this week-end. (If you are in LA and want to see it you can get tickets here.)

Anyway, we were chatting last night and he reminded me of this, which I had remembered as being someone other than Limbaugh himself:
There was never a doubt that Limbaugh would support the reelection of George H. W. Bush in 1992 -- he was the Republican candidate -- but Rush wasn't enthusiastic. Bush struck him as a preppy, country club moderate, an Ivy League snob who, as a candidate in the Republican primaries of 1980, had dismissed Ronald Reagan's supply-side ideology as voodoo economics. Not only that, Bush had raised taxes.


Early in the summer of 1992, Roger Ailes, who was working for President Bush, made the connection. The president invited Limbaugh to accompany him to the Kennedy Center and spend a night at the White House. Bush personally carried Limbaugh's bag from the elevator of the White House residence to his room, a gesture Rush never forgot. That night he called his mother and brother from the Lincoln bedroom. "Guess where I'm sleeping tonight," he said. Bush might not be Reagan, but he was the president of the United States.
This too:
PBS' Frontline said that Limbaugh "went all out for Bush." Bush appeared on Limbaugh's program in September 1992, and Limbaugh introduced Bush at a late-stage campaign rally on November 2.

Following Rush's introduction, Bush took the stage and said:

BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Here we go for the last day. Thank you all. Thank you so very much. Thank you. May I start by thanking Rush Limbaugh. And last night, Governor Clinton was at the Meadowlands with Richard Gere and other Hollywood liberals.

AUDIENCE: Boo-o-o!

BUSH: Well, here's a good deal for you. Let Governor Clinton have Richard Gere. I'll take Rush Limbaugh any day.
If anyone wants to know just how the GOP became a bunch of extremist freaks, this is a good place to start: right smack dab in the middle of the GOP establishment.

The Myth of Susan Collins' Moderation

by digby

The death of the "Republican moderate" has been a topic of political conversation for some years now. The rise of the Tea Party and the ongoing rightward turn of the GOP leaves little room for moderation. However, there is at least one so-called moderate to whom the political press always fondly point when they wax nostalgic for the good old days when Tip O'Neil and Ronald Reagan allegedly knocked back scotch and sodas at the end of the day together. That lone "moderate" is Susan Collins of Maine. And unfortunately, her reputation for "moderation" is as mythic as those cocktail parties on the Truman Balcony.

Susan Collins may play Hamlet from time to time, wringing her hands in public about the crazies "on both sides" and Democrats inevitably throw in some more goodies to make her happy, watering down what is always already a compromise, and then ... she votes with the Republicans anyway. It's a con game she's run over and over again. Here are just a few examples:

Paycheck Fairness Act
Collins voted in April and again in September against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would shield employees who raise legitimate questions about workplace pay equity, among other features. Bellows has consistently called on Collins to support the bill-- which Collins also voted to filibuster in 2010, 2012 and earlier this year-- and has made support for the measure one of the centerpieces of her campaign.

A February national survey found 60 percent of voters are more likely to support a candidate who supports fair pay for women, a higher minimum wage, paid family and medical leave and paid sick days. The survey also found that women are less likely to receive paid extended leave than men.

Republicans have been uncomfortable discussing the issue all year, leading to an MSNBC story on the GOP's shifting explanation for why the bill keeps getting filibustered. Collins said in 2012 without citing evidence that it would lead to "excessive litigation."

Minimum Wage
Collins stood with Washington Republicans in April against increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which translates to $21,008 per year for someone working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Afterward, Collins put out a statement bemoaning the fact that the proposal "does not have the votes it would need to pass the Senate."

Maine voters support "raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour and indexing future increases to inflation" by a 63-36 spread, according to a July poll by the Maine People's Resource Center.

In 2007 the Senate voted 94-3 to increase the federal minimum wage in stages to its current level of $7.25 an hour, a far cry from today's partisanship.

Campaign Finance Reform
Collins is also out of step with public opinion on campaign finance reform. A CBS poll in May found voters support "limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns" over "allowing individuals to contribute as much money to political campaigns as they'd like" by 71-25. Collins has voted in lockstep with Washington Republicans against both the DISCLOSE Act, which would publicize the sources of large political contributions in a timely way, and the Udall Amendment, which would give Congress and state legislatures the power to regulate campaign spending.

That's just for starters.  Her contention that she voted against the most outrageous Republican act of sabotage in the last congress (and that's saying something) --- the government shutdown ---  is at the very least misleading.  (In fact, she voted three times for bills requiring the president to defund or delay Obamacare in order to keep the government open.)

A whole lot of Mainers are on to Collins' phony posturing. They know that Collins is a phony and being independent Yankee types they don't take kindly to being conned. Instead, they are supporting Democrat Shenna Bellows for Senate.

Take, for instance, this fine fellow, (whom you might recognize --- especially at this time of year)

Or, how about this former Susan Collins volunteer.

In stark contrast to Susan Collins, Shenna Bellows is an energetic, independent, principled leader who will not have to answer to the Tea Party and won't be dancing to the tune of corporate interests and the ossified political establishment in Washington. If the people of Maine value independence, principle and the ability to work across party lines on issues of importance to the whole nation, and I know they do, then Shenna Bellows is someone who knows how to get it done. As she put it:

I may be the first ACLU leader in history to run for the United States Senate, but nothing less than our democracy is at stake. Politicians in Washington have trampled on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They have created a constitutional crisis. NSA spying is out of control, threatening our individual freedoms and international relations.

My work in Maine provides a model for moving forward. I made my decision to run for United States Senate when I was working on two groundbreaking privacy laws this spring to require law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing cellphone communications including location data, text messages and voice mails. I organized a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Greens. We did not agree on very much at all except the fundamental importance of our constitutional freedoms and the dangers posed by government intrusion into our personal lives. The opposition was intense, bipartisan and included some of my close friends, but we persevered. Maine was one of only two states in the country to protect against cell phone tracking. The law also survived a veto by Governor Paul LePage on a rare veto override vote.

Our work in Maine with Republicans and Democrats alike to advance strong privacy principles should serve as a model for the nation. We demonstrated that it’s not necessary to compromise our core principles in order to advance meaningful reform. A shared commitment to protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights transcends partisan politics.

The experience of working with people across the political spectrum on issues of fundamental American values and constitutional principles made Shenna Bellows a person who can reach across the aisle with integrity, respect and common purpose to get things done. Unlike Susan Collins who has turned herself into a parody of bipartisanship, Bellows has been doing the real thing throughout her career --- and doing it without sacrificing her principles or her ideals.

The beltway may be in love with phony "moderates" they can laud as examples of bipartisan comity despite all evidence to the contrary, but there's no reason for Maine voters to do the same. Shenna Bellows is the Real Deal.

If you'd like to help Bellows down the stretch, you can contribute to her campaign here.


"You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news: then welcome to civilization."

by digby

In my latest for Salon I recount the Dixie Chicks flap in which they said on a London stage "we're ashamed the President is from Texas ...." in light of the shocking speech Texas Governor Rick Perry gave in London this week. Holy smoke:
This trip down memory lane is just to add a little context to another American who went to London this week to talk about American foreign policy. Texas Governor Rick Perry went across the pond and gave a speech that would have made all those Chicks-haters proud. No, he didn’t repeat his earlier comments to the Americans for Prosperity gathering (from which he drew “hoots” from the audience), in which he said, “The deepening chaos in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine is all the clear and compelling evidence the world needs of a president one step behind, lurching from crisis to crisis, always playing catch up.” But what he did say was enough to curdle the blood of anyone who isn’t looking to start World War III. He makes his case in no uncertain terms:

It is one thing to speak earnestly about the international order that our nations have helped to establish these past 70 years, and something else altogether to see that it is defended. That, once again, is what is required of Western nations and the great alliances we have formed. And as you know better than I, this cause will draw heavily on our wealth, our will, and our wisdom.

The plainest imperative of all is the resources we commit to the common defense, holding nothing back if it will better assure our security. And the nations of the West had better get about it, and never take for granted our military superiority.

For us, in the present conflict, the difference that superiority makes is the difference between those people – the jihadists of ISIS – in control or in retreat.

We know what they do when they’re in control, and they try very hard to make sure we see it. In all of our conduct toward this enemy, there can be no illusions, and no compromise of all that we are defending.
There’s more along this line. Much more. He goes on to put himself in the shoes of the average Iraqi or Syrian, lugubriously asserting that Americans are always seen cleanly and purely as saviors:
And when they look up and see an RAF, Danish, or American bomber coming in, they feel precisely as you and I would feel. That sight must seem like the answer to a prayer, a prayer that can be expressed in every faith: “Save my family, save my home, save my village, save me, from this evil.”
There is much more in his speech to alarm you but this probably sums up his attitude most succinctly:
What all of these various hate groups have in common is a disdain for, and a wish to destroy, our Western way of life.

And someone needs to tell them that the meeting has already been held. It was decided, democratically, long ago – and by the way through great and heroic sacrifice – that our societies will be governed by Western values and Western laws.

Among those values are openness and tolerance. But to every extremist, it has to be made clear: we will not allow you to exploit our tolerance, so that you can import your intolerance. We will not let you destroy our peace with your violent ideas. If you expect to live among us, and yet plan against us, to receive the protections and comforts of a free society, while showing none of its virtues or graces, then you can have our answer now: No, not on our watch!

You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news: then welcome to civilization.

(But don’t worry, you can carry a many guns as you like and shoot anyone who looks at you sideways.)

More at the link...

This man cannot become president. That speech makes George W. Bush look like Cindy Sheehan.


Privatized politics

by Tom Sullivan

"President Hillary thanks you," I used to say when Republicans saluted any expansion of presidential power under George W. Bush. As someone who watched lots of 1950s science fiction and monster films growing up, I have a healthy appreciation for how what at first seem like good ideas have a way of quickly spinning out of control. And the Citizens United ruling never seemed like a good idea. Yet it spun out of control faster than Frankenstein's monster.

Jim Rutenberg looks at how the decision has allowed America's oligarchs of whatever political persuasion to become "their own political parties." Rutenberg sat in on a strategy session with hedge fund billionaire, Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate Action, itself "a capitulation to the post-Citizens United world." Gubernatorial candidate and former Florida governor, Charlie Christ, could wait:

With the advent of Citizens United, any players with the wherewithal, and there are surprisingly many of them, can start what are in essence their own political parties, built around pet causes or industries and backing politicians uniquely answerable to them. No longer do they have to buy into the system. Instead, they buy their own pieces of it outright, to use as they see fit. “Suddenly, we privatized politics,” says Trevor Potter, an election lawyer who helped draft the McCain-Feingold law.

Now we have Michael Bloomberg, who has committed to spending $50 million to support gun-control legislation; his Independence USA PAC, meanwhile, is spending $25 million this fall to elect “centrists.” We have the TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and his group Ending Spending, which has spent roughly $10 million so far this year to elect fiscal conservatives to Congress, an effort that has drawn support from the billionaire hedge-fund executive Paul E. Singer, who has also devoted tens of millions to Republican candidates who share his views on Israel. We have Mark Zuckerberg and his FWD.us, with a budget of about $50 million to push an immigration overhaul. In 2014, as of early October, when the campaigns had yet to do their big final pushes, overall spending was already more than $444 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Roughly $231 million was from the parties and their congressional committees, the rest from outside spending. The biggest chunk of that by far came from super PACs — more than $196 million. Looking at those numbers, it’s not hard to understand why Crist was willing to wait outside a conference room in Coral Gables for Steyer.

Citizens United has created new playgrounds for ideological billionaires where America's quasi-democratic process used to be. Are there not enough islands for sale, or enough gulches?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Your moment of zen

by digby

This election isn't just about losing the Senate

by digby

I have a piece today over at Salon about the upcoming election and the ongoing takeover the state governments by these right wing extremists. It's extremely unsettling:
You know it’s getting close to an election when every political junkie gets obsessed with polling, and men like Nate Silver and Sam Wang are spoken of in hushed tones usually reserved for sports stars and religious figures. As of today it’s not looking good for team D to hold the Senate and there are a lot of reasons why that’s a bad thing for America. Not the least of those is that the Republican party has lost its mind and they are likely going to elect some more fringe characters along the lines of Ted Cruz to the allegedly “greatest deliberative body in the world.”

I had been of the opinion that this wasn’t going to be such a travesty since it’s probably going to last only last two years, but the advent of this new ISIS war and the hysteria around immigration and Ebola means that the congress has quite a bit of leverage over the administration and could demand some very ugly concessions just to keep the government working in a time of crisis. (Yes, they will do that, don’t kid yourself.) So it’s probably a mistake to be sanguine about this election not being important. When the world is blowing up you really need the government to work properly.

As I said, the field is much more favorable to Democrats in 2016 so there’s something to hang on to if the worst happens. But this story from Mother Jones about the continuing rightward turn in the state legislatures is enough to give you nightmares. Republicans already hold total power in 23 states and are about to take control of 2 more. And let’s just say they aren’t exactly Eisenhower Republicans. Across the country where they’ve won full control, they’ve tried to enact as extreme an agenda as they can get away with. And when you have all three branches, as many of them do, the agenda is very extreme indeed.
Read on...
US media reaches new heights of embarrassment

by digby

This hysteria is out of control. Everybody's having a fit on TV over "the man with the clipboard" who wasn't wearing a Hazmat suit when they transported the latest patient to Emory University. Jesus. You don't get Ebola from just being on the same tarmac with an Ebola patient. How many times do people have to be told this?

Anyway, the ironic thing is that it's part of the safety protocol:
The man seen not wearing a hazmat suit while standing just feet away from the second nurse with Ebola as she was transported to Emory University hospital did not need to wear the protective gear, the medical airline said.

The nurse, identified Wednesday as Amber Vinson, was flown from Dallas to Atlanta on medical airline Phoenix Air.

She was seen being transported to and from the ambulance by three people in full-body hazmat suits, but the fourth person by her stretcher was wearing plainclothes and holding a clipboard.

The airline confirmed to ABC News that the man was their medical protocol supervisor who was purposefully not wearing protective gear.

"Our medical professionals in the biohazard suits have limited vision and mobility and it is the protocol supervisor’s job to watch each person carefully and give them verbal directions to ensure no close contact protocols are violated," a spokesperson from Phoenix Air told ABC News.

"There is absolutely no problem with this and in fact ensures an even higher level of safety.

Maybe people think it would be better if the people actually handling the Ebola patient were stumbling around like blind salmon?

And do these dizzy anchors really believe that a medical transport company would have just allowed some random guy to be walking around like that if he were in any danger? That the man would have willingly done it? It's absurd.

This reminds me of the AIDS outbreak back in the 1980s. I was working in a hospital in San Francisco and we became aware of the disease early on. Even though nobody knew what this disease was the people in medicine took precautions but, for the most part anyway, behaved like the professionals they are. It was only when the public became aware that everyone started to get nuts about it. And it was awful.

This time they know what the disease is. One person has died inside the US. And cable TV is turning it into a horror show:

Update: Oy. And this is idiotic too.

Update II: And the hits just keep on coming:

Speaking on Glenn Beck’s radio program, Gohmert — who represents Texas, where one Ebola patient has died and two nurses have been infected — said he was “okay, but do any of us really know for sure.”

“If the CDC says you’re not okay then you’re okay in my book,” Beck quipped.

“You know, it’s a shame that the CDC head, Frieden, is apparently the commander of the Democrats’ new war on women nurses,” Gohmert opined. “Because, goodnight, they set them up, and then they throw them under the bus.”

“The idiot comes out and says that clearly she had violated protocol,” the Texas congressman continued. “At least in football, they have to tell you what you violated.”

Update III:
 Female passenger dressed in a hazmat suit — complete with a full body gown, mask and gloves — was spotted Wednesday waiting for a flight at the airport.

This is how it's done, debate moderators

by digby

This is from a TPM story about the debate last night in Colorado between Republican Cory Gardner and Senator Mark Udall:
[A]t a debate Wednesday night, moderator Kyle Clark of KUSA in Denver put Gardner's dodges in perhaps the starkest terms yet, adding fuel to the fire Sen. Mark Udall has been trying throughout his campaign to fan with women voters.

"You continue to deny that the federal Life at Conception Act, which you sponsor, is a personhood bill to end abortion and we are not going to debate that here tonight because it's a fact," Clark said. "Your co-sponsors say so, your opponents say so, and independent fact-checkers say so."

"So let's instead talk about what this entire episode may say about your judgment more broadly," Clark continued. "It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you're wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you're not telling us the truth. Which is it?"

"I think again I do not support the personhood amendment," Gardner said, apparently referring to a state amendment that he had renounced at the start of his Senate campaign. "The bill that you're referring to is simply a statement that I support life. But let me just repeat the words of Sen. Udall --"

"But why does no one else think that? That's what we're getting at," Clark said, continuing to press Gardner on the issue.

"What I'm asking you about here is what appears to be the willing suspension of the facts," Clark said. "People who agree with you on the issue of life think you're wrong about how you're describing the bill. Everybody seems to have a cohesive idea of what this is with the exception of you, and I'm just wondering: What should voters glean from that fact?"

"There are people who agree with my opinion on life. There are people who don't," Gardner said. "I support life, I've voted for exceptions, but the fact is that the bill that you are talking about is simply a statement that I support life."
Again, the fact that these Republicans felt free to sign on to the most onerous anti-abortion legislation in the country not long ago and are now forced to retreat on the issues is one of the few bright spots in this election. Not that it means they will give up. But the "Personhood" gambit failed and they are in retreat.

By the way, it's obvious that the national Republicans have told all the right wing extremist types to say their anti-abortion fanaticism is best excused by saying they were just making a simple statement that they were "pro-life." Tea partier Joni Ernst in Iowa is using those exact words as well.

Unfortunately, if they win it won't matter. They have 6 year terms and they'll be in there agitating for every anti-woman policy that comes up. I don't think you vote for "personhood" out of politics. Those two are true believers.

So what would Rand Paul do about Ebola?

by digby

If you were wondering what the libertarian solution to dealing with highly contagious disease might be ... keep wondering.  All you're going to get is this:

In other words:
Carla Howell, National Libertarian Party Political Director, says “governmental bureaucracies” involved with epidemic control are ineffective compared to private and voluntary efforts, in addition to costing too much money and violating individual rights.

"The sole purpose of government is to protect our life, liberty and property from harm caused by others in those few instances where the private sector cannot do a better job," Howell writes in an e-mail to Newsweek. “Containing Ebola in Africa is best left to private charities such as Doctors Without Borders rather than the NIH [National Institutes of Health] or the CDC. 
Screening is better handled by airlines and private hospitals that are both liable for damages and fully free of government red tape. (Sadly no such hospitals exist today in the United States).”

To be fair, some other libertarians who are running for office in Texas reluctantly agreed that as much as they loathe "government bureaucracies" like the CDC, they have "bigger fish to fry." Others recognized that quarantines enforced by the proverbial men with guns might be necessary. Overall, they seemed to be more uncomfortable with implications of their belief system in this instance than we usually see. In fact, they remind of the anti-abortion zealots when confronted with the inconvenient fact that if they consider abortion murder they are morally required to arrest the women who have them. The spokesperson for the national Libertarian party is the only one who is unashamedly willing to spell out the solutions their philosophy truly requires.

Update:  This piece by Ben Adler delves into the Paul's ideas about public health and they're very interesting since they're both doctors.

More alarming, however( for Rand Paul's patients anyway) is that he's apparently an "Ebola Truther" --- one who thinks the government is lying about the mode of transmission and that it can actually be transmitted by air.


Please all, please none

by digby

I've been saying that "you can't be all things to all people" for years out of frustration at the Democratic Party's insistence that politicians use language designed to put anyone who listens into a coma, especially in an off year election. Here's evidence that this is true from language expert Anat Shenker-Osorio and pollster Celinda Lake:
The objective in November for every party is turnout -- not persuasion. There are very few mid-term voters who don't already feel strongly about their party; no pithy phrase is going to make them change teams at the end of the season. Politics is tribal -- if you show up in the off-season you're here to root for the home team, not to assess the field.

Further, sophisticated analyses of voter turnout indicate that messages that rile up the base -- that get them passionate about a politician -- are required, no matter what side of the political aisle. Not a toothless appeal to the greatest number, no matter their political leanings. Republicans have long understood and employed this approach. Democrats need to catch up. This means that even if "economic growth for all" rated most highly with everyone asked, this still wouldn't necessarily make it the go-to message for engaging a partisan base.

In fact, it's deeply fitting that the animal in Aesop's "Please All, Please None" fable was a donkey. This kind of, let's meet people where they are and actually say nothing, approach is the best summation of current Democratic strategy.

Unlike Republican voters, where many potential Democratic voters are during mid-terms is at home watching television. We need to figure out where they're capable of going and what it takes to get and keep them there.

Our own recent research on economic issues tells us a progressive approach is in order. What voting skeptics need to hear is recognition that their vote would mean appreciable differences in the economic struggles most Americans are facing.

Messages like "every working parent should get paid enough to care for their kids" and "Americans deserve more than a decent living, they deserve a decent life" test through the roof with our base and persuade that hotly desired middle.

This is in response to the Party's insistence  that  the "big winner" of a message is to pimp the idea of "growth" rather than kvetch about "inequality", the problem being that we've had plenty of "growth over the past few years all of it leading to more inequality. The whole approach leads to policies that make the lives of average people worse. And as the authors point out it reinforces a very conservative worldview.

The truth is that nobody's against economic growth. That's daft. But average people aren't benefiting --- that rising tide is only lifting the top 1% of boats and everyone else is being shoved underwater. Simply talking about growth is basically lying to people about what needs to be done to make their lives better.

Shenker-Osorio and Lake also make what should be the obvious point that it's important to appeal directly to your own base voters in these off-year elections rather than swing voters.  If they stay home your sunk no matter how many swing voters find your nice, bland messaging about "growth" to be pleasantly inoffensive and non-threatening.

Needless to say, the Republicans aren't going in that direction.

Wrapping themselves in the flag

by digby

I'm seeing a lot of this cropping up again:

Commenters are very worried about our troops because the CDC is playing politics.


Gaming democracy

by Tom Sullivan

Last night, judges once again struck down another state's photo ID law. This time in Arkansas:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins.

In a decision that could have major implications in the Nov. 4 election, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting.

The high court noted the Arkansas Constitution lists specific requirements to vote: that a person be a citizen of both the U.S. and Arkansas, be at least 18 years old and be lawfully registered. Anything beyond that amounts to a new requirement and is therefore unconstitutional, the court ruled.

Similar rulings have occurred with Republican voting laws in Pennsylvania (January), Wisconsin, and Texas, although the Texas ruling by the U.S. District Court was overturned yesterday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The day before the Wisconsin ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed North Carolina to implement its ban on same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The state's sweeping voting bill goes to trial next summer. The mixed rulings may have more to do more with timing than principle:

Despite the flurry of high court rulings, many legal analysts and some judges say the Supreme Court’s actions are less about broad voting rights principles than telling federal judges to butt out, particularly so close to Election Day. In each of the cases where the justices acted, lower federal courts had issued orders that would have changed the rules for elections just weeks away, potentially causing confusion among voters and election officials.

You have to wonder when (and if) the light bulb will come on in the public consciousness. Our moneyed lords and their Republican vassals oppose the very idea of democracy for fear of the peasants peeing on the furniture. The succession of court challenges overturning photo ID laws and marriage equality bans follows a pattern seen in Republican-led states across the country, certainly here in North Carolina. GOP legislatures feel empowered (and directed) to push the constitution and established rules to the limits and beyond, and they dare anyone to stop them. As president-elect George W. Bush quipped, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Was that a Kinsley gaffe?

Charlie Pierce in Esquire on the GOP mining democracy [emphasis mine]:

Simply put, the Republican party deliberately has transformed itself from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of I've Got Mine, Jack. And it rarely, if ever, gets called to account for that. As a result, and without substantial notice or paying a substantial price, and on many issues, individual Republicans have been able to justify the benefits they've received from government activity that they now oppose in theory and in practice. This is not "hypocrisy." That is too mild a word. This is the regulatory capture of the government for personal benefit. That it makes a lie, again and again, of the basic principles of modern conservatism -- indeed, that it shows those principles to be a sham -- is certainly worthy of notice and debate. It is certainly worthy of notice and debate that the conservative idea of the benefits of a political commonwealth means those benefits run only one way. Modern conservatism is not about making the government smaller. It's about making the government exclusive.

They are bent on gaming democracy the way they game capitalism.

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