Author: kstreet607

Politics! Politics! I love politics! Unapologetic Barack Obama enthusiast.

10 things you need to know today: October 5, 2015

AP Photo/Gerry Broome


1. South Carolina hit by once-in-a-millennium rains
South Carolina was hit by historic rainfall over the weekend that caused widespread flooding and left at least six people dead. Two others died in North Carolina. Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, got more than 24 inches of rain. “We haven’t seen this level of rain in the Low country in 1,000 years,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said at a press conference. “That’s how big this is.” The state capital, Columbia, got more than a foot overnight. Rescuers plucked hundreds of people trapped by floodwaters, many stranded in cars.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

2. Hillary Clinton to pitch gun-control measures
Hillary Clinton is expected on Monday to announce proposals to close gun sale loopholes and repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Clinton, then a senator, voted against the 2005 law, which provides legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers who sell guns that are used for criminal activity. Joining others calling for tighter gun laws in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, Clinton also plans to back legislation to prohibit anyone with a history of domestic violence from buying or possessing guns.

Source: Bloomberg

3. Trade negotiators hope to wrap up Pacific trade deal
Trade negotiators say they hope to seal a final trade deal between the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries on Monday. The landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership, under negotiation for eight years, would open up trade and set commerce ground rules for 12 countries representing about 40 percent of the global economy. If finalized, the next hurdle will be getting it ratified in all 12 member nations. A deeply divided Congress is expected to debate the pact for months.

Source: The New York Times

4. Aid group calls for independent investigation of strike on Afghan hospital
Doctors Without Borders on Sunday called the suspected U.S. airstrike that killed 12 staff members and 10 patients at its northern Afghanistan hospital a “war crime,” and demanded an independent investigation. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter promised an inquiry to determine whether the U.S. military was responsible. He said American “air assets” were operating in the area around Kunduz when the hospital was hit. He promised accountability for “anybody responsible for doing something they shouldn’t have done.”

Source: Reuters

5. ISIS destroys arch at ancient city’s entrance
Islamic State militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph that stood at the entrance to the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, Maamun Abdulkarim, Syria’s head of antiquities, said Monday. Abdulkarim said ISIS “booby-trapped” the arch several weeks ago. The Islamist extremist group has been destroying monuments, which they believe promote idolatry, since seizing the 2,000-year-old UNESCO world heritage site in May. “We are living through a catastrophe,” Abdulkarim said.

Source: AFP

6. Three scientists share Nobel Prize in medicine for work fighting parasites
Three scientists from Ireland, Japan, and China were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their work revolutionizing therapies for devastating parasitic diseases. William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura won for developing the drug Avermectin to treat river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis). Youyou Tu won his share of the prize for discovering Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced malaria death rates.

Source: The New York Times

7. Debris spotted from cargo ship that went missing in Hurricane Joaquin
Search teams on Sunday found debris believed to be from the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin in the Bahamas last week. The vessel had a crew of 28 Americans and five Polish nationals on board. The Coast Guard has spotted life jackets, containers, and an oil sheen believed to have come from the ship, but there have been no sightings of life boats. El Faro has not been seen or heard from since its crew sent a distress call on Thursday.

Source: Reuters, CNN

8. American Apparel files for bankruptcy protection
American Apparel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlyMonday. The company is struggling with massive debts and plummeting sales. An ongoing legal fight with ousted founder Dov Charney’ also has contributed to the once trendsetting retailer’s decline. The reorganization plan, if approved by the bankruptcy court in Delaware, would reduce the company’s debt to $120 million from $311 million by letting five bondholders trade their debt for shares in the company.

Source: The New York Times

9. North Korea frees NYU student
North Korea released New York University student Won-moon Joo on Monday after holding him since April, the South Korean government said. Joo, a South Korean with permanent residency in the U.S., took a semester off to travel. He told CNN months ago that he was arrested after entering North Korea illegally via China. “I thought that some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect on the relations” between the two Koreas, Joo said in May.

Source: New York Daily News

10. The Martian leads the weekend box office with $55 million debut
The Martian dominated the weekend box office in its debut, hauling in $55 million in its opening. The Ridley Scott 3D space epic fell less than $1 million short of beating out Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity as the biggest October opening ever. The Martian, starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded and left for dead on Mars, also made $45.2 million overseas, bringing its total to $100.2 million globally.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Harold Maass

The Shady Group That Played Pope Francis

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast


The pontiff found his reformer image tarnished when it was announced he met with Kim Davis. The group behind the political coup? The Liberty Counsel.

Around 8 p.m. on Sept. 29, the Liberty Counsel, Kim Davis’ legal representation, tweeted a report from Inside the Vatican that Pope Francis had a secret meeting with their client. Robert Moynihan, the writer who broke the story, had gotten his information exclusively from the Liberty Counsel.

What started out as a rumor about a closed-door meeting quickly evolved into something much bigger—the claim that Pope Francis, for all of his kindness toward LGBT people, was really on the side of the Religious Right.

You can imagine how the secret meeting might have gone, said the Liberty Counsel: Pope Francis embracing a humbled Kim Davis, encouraging her to “stay strong,” and validating her fight against gay marriage. And then mere hours later, with poor, sweet Kim fresh in his memory, telling journalists that government officials—why, just like that Kentucky gal!—have the right to conscientious objection.

But many journalists with connections inside the Vatican, myself included, were having difficulty figuring out exactly what transpired between Francis and Davis because the Liberty Counsel’s story was so incredibly vague. Who, for instance, initiated the meeting—and why?

According to Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, the meeting came “from the Vatican itself”—which reads as his deceptive way of saying, “Pope Francis didn’t actually invite Davis to the embassy, but someone with Vatican connections did, so we’re going to keep saying Vatican over and over until enough people think the Holy Father actually invited our client to meet him.”

Though many pressed Staver to release the name of the Vatican official, he held out as long as he could until eventually the secret broke. The meeting was initiated by Archbishop Vigano, Vatican ambassador to the U.S., who is a strong opponent of same-sex marriage.

Last spring, for example, Vigano attended an anti-gay rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage. In a press release, NOM called Vigano the “official representative of Pope Francis,” which—as is implied by the designation—they took as a papal seal of approval for their fight against gay marriage. (This is why Vigano has won himself the ire of many Catholics—he should’ve known that when he wades into a culture war, he drags Francis unwittingly with him.)

The inconsistencies with the Liberty Counsel’s story were infuriatingly apparent from go. For example, Staver told CBS that Francis definitely knew who Kim Davis was, before their meeting: “Pope Francis,” he said, “has been following the story of Kim Davis and obviously is very concerned about religious liberty, not just in the United States, but worldwide.” But in an interview with TIME, Staver said that he didn’t know if Francis knew who his client was, but he assumed the pope had heard of her because “her story has been published worldwide.”

The Vatican quickly realized they had to weigh in. Admitting that Francis had some brief encounter with Davis, the statement from the Holy See’s press office made clear that the meeting “should not be considered a form of support” for Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moreover, the Vatican didn’t even consider Davis a “real audience,” saying she was just one of dozens paraded in front of the pontiff at the Vatican embassy.


To put it in theological terms, the Liberty Counsel expects us to ignore the letter of what they say and pay attention to the spirit of what they say. This explanation is an odd strategy for, you know, attorneys. “Your honor, you’re getting tripped up here on the evidence! Look at the big metaphorical picture!”

This kind of deceptive wordplay isn’t a new game to the Liberty Counsel. Just last month they pulled something similar.

Imagine this, they said. Tens of thousands of Christian opponents of gay marriage filling a field in Peru, for the sole purpose of lifting up Kim Davis, their sister in Christ, in prayer as she wages war on gay pagans. You can, in fact, imagine this because the Liberty Counsel, Davis’ legal representation promised that it happened. There are even pictures to prove it, they said.

Except, that story wasn’t true either.

The picture of a 100,000-strong rally in Peru that the Liberty Counsel tweeted out to prove that there was global support for their client was actually from a prayer rally from May 2014. It had absolutely nothing to do with Davis.

It now appears, a statement from the Liberty Counsel read, “the photograph presented to [Davis’ attorney] Mat Staver was an honest mistake.” What’s not a mistake, however, the Liberty Counsel said, is that “there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports.”

Again, he argued, his lie was symbolically true. Spirit not letter, and whatnot.

Founded in 1989 by husband and wife attorneys, Mathew Staver and Anita Staver, the nonprofit’s goal is to provide legal services to those causes they feel are “dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family,” according to the group’s website. In other words, they provide pro bono legal representation to people who are fighting on their side of the culture war.

The group is notorious for opposing homosexuality and abortion, and fighting for its version of religious freedom. It’s also been extremely critical of President Obama. “I know for a fact salvation is not arriving on Air Force One,” Staver once said.

Ahead of the Obergefell decision, Staver co-authored a Marriage Pledge, in which he “respectfully warned” the judges not to “cross the line” on God-ordained marriage.

“Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”

Staver organizes and is a key speaker at an annual conference called The Awakening, which bills itself as “an in-depth Prayer and Patriotism event where people are united by love for our country’s freedom and our faith in Christ.” According to a conference schedule from 2012, topics of discussion include Israel, Islam, the LGBTQ agenda, and abortion.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group. Importantly, the SPLC does not classify religious groups as hate groups simply because they believe or preach that homosexuality is sinful (religious groups have a protected right to that belief) but because they propagate known falsehoods, and often employ “groundless name-calling.”

For example, despite the fact that reparative therapy has been discredited by science, in 2006 the LC launched its “Change is Possible” campaign, to educate youth that “unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.” Railing against society-threatening values like diversity and tolerance, the LC encouraged students to start Gay to Straight Clubs on their campuses, and to ask faculty to include “the ex-gay viewpoint” in all discussions of homosexuality. These initiatives, they suggest, are life-saving: “Former homosexuals have lost their jobs and been physically assaulted because they dared to tell others that people can and do overcome same-sex attractions.”

Multiple requests for comment from the Liberty Counsel went unreturned, but last month Staver told the Orlando Sentinel he rejects the hate label, claiming that “critics have misconstrued his comments and maligned his motivations in service of their own agenda to smear anyone who doesn’t condone homosexuality.”

Staver is the author of the 2004 book Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk, which argued that “sanctioning same-sex marriage would have a profound destabilizing effect on the health, welfare, education, and morals of the country.” The book is full of pithy, confusing Staverisms, like: “We should not play Russian roulette with marriage.”

“When it comes to anti-LGBT hate groups,” said a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, the Liberty Counsel is “in a class of their own.” The HRC has long followed the Liberty Counsel, noting that the group supports “despicable anti-LGBT criminalization laws abroad, compares being LGBT to drug addiction, and defends the abusive and scientifically discredited practice of ‘so-called’ conversion therapy.”

The Counsel’s involvement with Davis, said the spokesperson, is “merely the latest in a deplorable, decades-long record of attacking LGBT people, their dignity, and their rights.”

A well-researched article on the HRC’s website documents dozens of cases the Liberty Counsel has been involved with. Notably, the group represented the evangelical Scott Lively against charges of “crimes against humanity,” for his alleged involvement in the creation of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. “This lawsuit against Pastor Lively,” wrote Staver on the Liberty Counsel’s website, “is a terrifying attempt to use vague international law to silence, and eventually criminalize, speech by U.S. citizens on homosexuality and moral issues.”

The suit against Lively should scare everyone, he continued, “because it is a direct threat against every American’s freedom of speech and free exercise of religion by the use of international law.”

Staver is an expert in peddling fear. For instance, an advertisement for one of his Awakening conferences warned, “A war is raging against our shared values. Our faith and freedom are under attack.”

This is a theme of many Liberty Counsel press releases. In a writeup on Kim Davis, Staver warns, “The PURGE of Christians in America has begun.” (The word “purge” is used five times in the release.) Staver warns, “If this judge’s decision is allowed to stand, then every American Christian will be at risk of facing the PURGING of their faith and ultimately the loss of their jobs.”

He then asked Concerned Christians Everywhere for—what else?—their money.

Staver’s fear-mongering tactics have certainly paid off, as Bethany Rodgers explains in the Orlando Sentinel. Since its creation, she writes, “the nonprofit has ballooned from a tiny venture collecting less than $200,000 in yearly donations to a multipronged organization that hauled in more than $4 million in the 2013 tax year.” The group employs 10 attorneys, and has several offices in the U.S., and another one in Israel.

To be clear: This is not some fringe right-wing group enjoying little to no influence in the world. Whenever there’s a fight to be had over gay marriage, abortion, or religious freedom, you can almost count on someone from the Liberty Counsel showing up. That’s why Staver’s stunt with the pope, though maddeningly unfortunate, is business as usual for the culture warrior.

The most glaring irony here is that evangelicals are notorious for their negative views of Catholicism, and in particular the pope. Some evangelicals believe the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon described in the Book of Revelation. Those beliefs may be limited to a few denominations on the fringes, but it is absolutely the case that evangelicalism holds that Catholicism is doctrinally in error on several major points, including purgatory, prayers to saints, and its veneration of Mary. Indeed, the Liberty Counsel even responded to a few tweets from apparent evangelicals angry that the group would even mingle with the pontiff.

It’s certainly bemusing, then, to hear Davis talk about how humbled she was by Francis’ visit, and how encouraging it was to hear he was “on track” with her marriage crusade. It’s equally bemusing to hear Staver heap praise on Francis’ theological positions.

The Liberty Counsel’s intentions with Francis weren’t spiritual or religious. They were merely political. Everything about that meeting was calculated to further Staver’s anti-gay agenda.

Sadly, for Davis, Staver’s intentions with her also seem to be political. For all of his talk about how much his client loves Jesus, it’s tough to imagine Staver even thinks his client is a Christian. Staver is a Southern Baptist, and adheres to a statement of faith that is markedly different from the one Davis’ church believes. A big difference, and one that is an issue of orthodoxy for any Southern Baptist, is that Davis’ church doesn’t believe in the doctrine of the trinity.

At the end of the day, the Liberty Counsel is after political expediency. They play people, they use their clients like pawns to accomplish their agendas without so much as an afterthought about how they are hurting their clients’ lives. No one from the Liberty Counsel, for instance, spent six days in jail. Nor are any of them currently wanted by the FBI or Interpol.

True to form, the Liberty Counsel tried to play Francis. They knew that the Vatican, even if they wanted to, couldn’t throw Davis under the bus. First, Francis is a pastor, and he wouldn’t do that. Second, Francis already won himself the ire of plenty of American conservatives for what they consider to be his weak, not-loud-enough stance against homosexuality. Did Francis really want to risk driving those conservatives even further away from the church? It was like the Liberty Counsel drove Francis into a corner, and dared him to call their bluff.

Unfortunately for the Liberty Counsel, he did. And he did it gloriously.

Remember how the Vatican’s official statement said Davis wasn’t a “real audience” for the pope because he only had one of those?

Well, that audience was with none other than Francis’ former student, who is gay, and his partner of 19 years. CNN broke the news in an exclusive interview with Yayo Grassi, the gay student.

While there’s no video took back up Davis’ story—which will no doubt change several more times, as it already has—there’s video of the Pope embracing his real audience. He knew both men were gay, and partnered. He didn’t use the moment to pray for their conversion to heterosexuality, or to give them a brochure on the ex-gay movement, or to lecture them on church teaching about sexuality. He welcomed them. He embraced them. He kissed them on the cheek. He smiled with them.

Is that meeting proof that Francis wants to change church teaching on homosexuality? No. But it is evidence of Pope Francis’ character—that in spite of his institution’s historical mistreatment of LGBT people, the judgment stops with him.

That’s who Pope Francis is.

Good luck spinning that, Mat Staver.

Ben Carson’s destructive lies: 4 racist assumptions endorsed & magnified by Black conservatives

Ben Carson's destructive lies: 4 racist assumptions endorsed & magnified by Black conservatives

(Credit: AP/Carlos Osorio)


The neurosurgeon-turned-candidate has eagerly joined the GOP in its campaign against racial justice

Through the first few months of campaign season, one thing has become indisputably clear: The Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization, and openly uses white racial resentment — along with old fashioned racism — to win the support of white voters.

To wit: The Republican Party’s leading 2016 presidential candidates include open racists and nativists such as Donald Trump, as well as “dog whistle” racists such as Jeb Bush, who channel Ronald Reagan by way of “Southern Strategy”-inspired narratives about “welfare queens” and lazy blacks who want “free stuff” from white people.

And then, of course, there is the curious case of Ben Carson, who recently said that black people who support the Democrats are essentially stupid, unsophisticated, hyper-emotional, irrational, and incapable of thinking for themselves. In Carson’s delusional alternate reality, Republicans do not “see race,” and, unlike the Democrats, are the real advocates for racial justice and positive change along the color line in the United States.

Ben Carson is not alone in his twisted fantasy land. He is joined by other black conservatives — a select group of racial mercenaries who are routinely trotted out on Fox News and elsewhere — who, to great approval from white conservatives, also repeat the same anti-black propaganda.

The white racist fantasies given credence by black conservatives consist of several repeated themes.

1) Black people are on a Democratic or Liberal “Plantation”

This twisted interpretation of the political agency and intelligence of black Americans is immensely popular on the White Right. The “Democratic Plantation” lie is rooted in a white supremacist fantasy and “Gone with the Wind”-style fairy tale of happy black slaves singing, dancing, having sex, and being protected by benevolent white masters. This racist fiction ignores how black Americans self-manumitted, fought in the Civil War to free themselves, remade democracy with Reconstruction, and then made the reasoned choice to switch over to the Democratic Party en masse because of the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and then later those of the Johnson and Kennedy administrations.

In reality, the slave “plantation” was a charnel and rape house. It quite literally used the bodies of millions of black people as fuel for (white) American and European empire.

There is a special hostility in the United States towards black Americans and their history of struggle, survival, and freedom. No one on mainstream cable news, among the commentariat, or in the class of political elites would dare to suggest that Jews who support the Democratic Party are in a type of “gas chamber” or “death camp.” Such an egregious insult can only be leveled with impunity at African-Americans.

2) Black people are extremely emotional and are unable to make intelligent political decisions 

This white supremacist fantasy reflects centuries-old racist beliefs that white people are supremely rational and that people of color—blacks in particular—are impulsive, unintelligent, libidinous, and impulsive.

On a range of public policy issues, black Americans have shown a remarkable amount of foresight and wisdom, being years or decades ahead of white public opinion on issues such as ending the Iraq War, the failures of George W. Bush’s leadership and administration and access to healthcare, among other issues. Social scientists have also detailed how African-Americans use complex decision making and other heuristics to factor in the realities of life in a racist society, the importance of the Black Freedom Struggle, and individual self-advancement. Some scholars of American politics even go so far as to suggest that black people may be more sophisticated in their political behavior than whites because of the former’s need to more carefully discern power dynamics and be sensitive to political partisanship and ideology.

3) Black Americans vote Democrat because they want “free things”

As I wrote in an earlier essay at Salon, this claim is both ahistorical, and also overlooks the most basic nature of politics. Politics is fundamentally about receiving benefits from the State. This is the core of interest group behavior, voting, and advocacy. To the degree that black people want “free things” they are no different from any other group. Moreover, in reality, it is White America that has been built on stealing “free stuff” from people of color (most obviously land from First Nations peoples and labor from black folks) and whose members receive a disproportionate amount of subsidies from what is known as “the submerged state”.

4) Black Americans are low-information voters who are ill-informed

As documented by the American Press Institute (API), Black Americans and whites may have slightly different news consumption patterns and habits, but the claim that African-Americans are somehow massively “less informed” than white people is specious.

The API reports that,

“Even with concerns about coverage of their communities in the news, large majorities of African Americans and Hispanics are avid news consumers and their general news habits are similar to national averages. Substantial numbers of Americans say they watch, read, or hear the news at least once a day (76 percent) and also say they enjoy keeping up with the news a lot or some (88 percent).

“But there are some differences by race and ethnicity in the frequency of news consumption. Non-Hispanic whites (80 percent) are more likely to say they get news daily than are African Americans (70 percent) or Hispanics (70 percent).”

The suggestion that black Americans are somehow ignorant and “tricked” into supporting the Democratic Party because they do not have access to correct information is especially absurd given that Fox News viewers, the vast majority of whom are white, constitute one of the least informed publics in the United States.

* * *

These defamations and slurs on the civic virtue, character, and intelligence of Black Americans are easily refuted. However, these lies are still especially dangerous because black conservatives like Ben Carson give them a veneer of truth and authenticity—thus validating the racist anti-black beliefs held by many white Americans.

A question still remains. Why do today’s black conservatives allow themselves to be used this way by the Republican Party?

Black conservatives are highly prized by Republicans. As such,they are well compensated on the lecture circuit, by the right-wing media machine, and are coddled and protected by a network of well-funded conservative think tanks and public relations firms. Their designated role as the “best black friend” for Republicans, the “special” and “good one,” is ego gratifying. And because the Black Freedom Struggle is in many ways a burden that some black folks are either too weak or unwilling to carry, black conservatives from the Reagan era onward have chosen to betray that honorable past for reasons of convenience, cowardice, lucre, and self-aggrandizement.

Black conservatives who channel racist talking points about African-Americans in the service of institutional white power are not a new phenomenon. During chattel slavery, for example, the role of “the driver” on the plantation—the middle manager who was responsible for much of the day-to-day discipline and operation of the slave labor camp—was often a black man. Likewise, for reasons humane (protecting one’s family and kin from white enslavers) and craven (owning black human property to extract wealth and income from their bodies, minds, and labor), a very small number of African-Americans in the antebellum South chose to own slaves.

Some people choose to challenge power by lying down and surrendering to it; others decide to benefit from its injustices and inequalities. The black conservatives in today’s Republican Party have made a strategic choice to do both.

H/t: DB

Chris Christie Refuses To Believe Strict NJ Gun Laws Are Responsible For Low Gun Violence (VIDEO)

ABC News Screen grab


During an interview last Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Chris Christie refused to accept that New Jersey’s low level of gun violence could possibly be attributed to the state’s tough gun laws. Interviewer George Stephanopoulos began:

“You just heard Donald Trump say, you know, sometimes people fall through the cracks. And he also questioned whether tough gun laws make a difference. But look at your state. It has some of the toughest gun laws and one of the lowest murder rates. Isn’t there a correlation?”

Without skipping a beat, Christie claims that mental health problems are the real cause of gun violence in the United States, pointing towards a need to make involuntary commitment easier for doctors.

“I don’t — George, I don’t think there is. But I’ll tell you this, I’m very concerned about the mental health side of this and I put forward a proposal to the legislature last year and then again just about seven or eight weeks ago in response to a bill they sent saying, let’s do some tough things on mental health. Let’s make involuntary commitment of people who speak violently easier for doctors.”

Christie then continued on invoking one of Republicans’ key talking points when it comes to gun regulations.

“In many of the places around this country where they have the toughest gun laws, they have the highest violent crime rates. And we focus on a tragedy like this. It’s an awful tragedy. It’s terrible. But it is the exception to violence in America. Violence in America — that’s happened on our streets in our cities, like Chicago, up 19 percent, the murder rate. New York, up 11 percent. And you have some of the most aggressive gun laws in cities like that.”

What Republicans always fail to mention is that guns have a tendency to flow into urban cities and states with strict gun control laws from ones that have lenient gun restrictions. This was shown when a report was released showing the origins of 50,000 guns that were confiscated in Chicago. Facing a surge in gun related violence, Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made it a point during the Conference of Mayors.

You can watch the interview here…

Alabama TV news panel scolds GOP over ‘fishy’ plan to close DMV offices in black communities

"Voice of Alabama Politics" on WNCF (screen grab)

“Voice of Alabama Politics” on WNCF (screen grab)

I wonder if anybody outside of that district really cares?  These commentators don’t.   It seems it’s just business as usual for the bigots and haters and everyone has to leave it up to a highly conservative Supreme Court to sort it out.  This scenario has been playing out for as long as there has been a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.  KS


A Panel of political experts in Alabama blasted the state on Sunday for appearing to target the African-Americans by closing driver’s license offices in black communities.

Just a year after enacting voter photo ID laws, the state of Alabama announced last week that it was closing 31 satellite DMV offices. As’s John Archibald pointed out, the move means that driver’s licenses offices will be closed in every county with 75 percent registered black voters.

“This is a result of the budget,” Voice of Alabama Politics host McMillan Strong noted. “But what’s the game plan? It looks fishy.”

“Not everyone cares that they closed 31 driver’s license offices,” Alabama Political Reporter Associate Editor Susan Britt explained. “They’re saying it only affects 5 percent of overall driver’s licenses in the state. But what does that tell you? That tells you that these are in rural areas, they are out in very small populations. They would have to drive a long distance to get a driver’s license — or a voter ID.”

“It appears on the surface, at least from a cursory glance, that this is disproportionately targeting folks in the black belt and racial minorities,” Strong observed. “It really does, I’m sorry.”

“Those are rural areas and if you’re going to target rural areas for closures because they’re not as busy, naturally there’s going to be a lot of overlap there,” political strategist Baron Coleman agreed. “But from an optics perspective, when you’re requiring voter ID and you go close the only place to get a voter ID in counties like Macon, Lowndes, Sumter, Hale, Greene — it’s bad optics, I’ll say that.”

“It may be not coincidental, but just the nature of how you have to do these things,” Strong opined. “But it is obvious that they are targeting more Democrats that they are Republicans.”

“You have to take into [account] that a lot of these communities are very poor,” Britt added. “And do they have the money to travel, do they have the $20 in gas that it takes to get there and back?”

Watch the video below from WNCF, broadcast Oct. 4, 2015.

Carey Mulligan Just Nailed the Problem With Calling Someone a “Strong Woman”

Image Credit: Getty Images


British actress Carey Mulligan doesn’t want to hear that her characters — or that of other female artists’ — are “strong.”

Mulligan is starring in the new movie Suffragette, which is slated for a U.S. release on Oct. 23. In the movie, she plays Maud Watts, a fictional character who finds herself embroiled in the early 20th century battle in the U.K. to give women equal voting rights.

In a promotional interview with Elle U.K., Mulligan dropped some revealing tidbits about her experience with feminism, acting and why the “strong female character” stereotype is bunk.

Carey Mulligan Just Nailed the Problem With Calling Someone a "Strong Woman"

Source: Mic/Getty Images

Mulligan says, “You don’t say to men: ‘You played another really strong man.’ The idea that women are inherently weak – and we’ve identified the few strong ones to tell stories about – is mad.”

The actress also took the time to weigh in on cat-calling and body-shaming, telling Elle she deplored “this idea of idealizing people’s bodies and then crushing them the moment they’re not perfect.”

“I just feel proud of being a feminist,” she added. “… it was so extraordinary to see so many people asking me in interviews ‘are you a feminist?’ and I’d say ‘yes,’ and they’d go ‘whoah,’ like that was some sort of revelatory thing in 2015.”

The Suffragette star says she’s not sure she’d have the courage to be the character she plays in the movie.

“You’d like to think that you would [but] you’re a product of your time,” she said. “I can express my opinion, but I’ve never had to fight, to stand up for anything. And the notion of walking into a gallery with a knife and destroying a piece of art, that seems unbelievably terrifying to me. And that’s just one, tame example of what they did.”

In an interview with MindFood in May, Mulligan offered her defense of the term “feminist.”

“I think it’s become a divisive word,” she said. “I don’t think it is by its nature and by its definition and it shouldn’t be.”

“But I think for some reason, over the last couple of decades, it’s become this sort of taboo word and has strange connotations where really the definition of it is so simple and so un-aggressive and easy to sort of get on board with,” Mulligan continued. “So, yeah, for some reason it’s become this sort of slightly almost controversial word, where it’s such a basic concept, it really shouldn’t be.”

h/t Huffington Post

10 things you need to know today: October 4, 2015

Doctors Without Borders handout/Associated Press


1. Jason Chaffetz officially announces House speaker bid
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) formally announced his bid for House speaker in a Fox News Sunday interview. He’ll be up against Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is favored to take over when John Boehner steps down Oct. 30. “The American people want a fresh face and a fresh new person,” Chaffetz said.

Source: Fox News Sunday

2. Doctors Without Borders closes Afghan hospital after airstrikes
Doctors Without Borders closed its northern Afghanistan hospitalSunday, one day after being hit in airstrikes possibly carried out by U.S. forces. The organization evacuated its foreign staff after at least 12 staff members and seven patients were killed in the assault that partially destroyed the building. It also denied that Taliban fighters were behind the attack. The U.S. military is conducting an investigation into the incident.

Source: Reuters, The Wall Street Journal

3. Hillary Clinton impersonates Donald Trump on SNL premiere
Hillary Clinton took to Saturday Night Live to poke fun at herself while slipping in a few jabs at Republican rival Donald Trump. Clinton played Val, an ordinary bartender, to Kate McKinnon’s Clinton, who was feeling down on her 2016 chances. The two acknowledged Clinton took a long time to oppose the Keystone pipeline and support same-sex marriage. When McKinnon mentioned Trump, the real politician mustered her best Donald impression for the camera. Former President Bill Clinton also dropped by.

Source: NBC

4. Oregon shooter’s father calls for stricter gun control
The father of the Oregon gunman who killed nine at a community college spoke out Saturday, arguing the shooting “would not have happened” if the U.S. had tighter gun control laws. Christopher Harper-Mercer was armed with six guns when he attacked Umpqua Community College on Thursday before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot in an exchange with police. “How was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?” Ian Mercer said. All of the shooter’s weapons were purchased legally by himself or a relative.

Source: The New York Times

5. Vatican fires openly gay priest before global LGBT outreach meeting
A priest who came out as gay was fired from the Vatican on Saturday, just one day before the start of the weeks-long Synod of Bishops. “The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said. At the global meeting, bishops will discuss the church’s LGBT outreach. Krzysztof Charamsa can retain his priesthood, but will not be allowed to work for the Vatican or pontifical universities.

Source: The Associated Press

6. Hillary Clinton wants LGBT vets kicked out of military to get honorable discharge
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton called on the military to upgrade the service records of LGBT veterans who were kicked out due to their sexuality under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and even before its 1993 enactment. “I can’t think of a better way to thank those men and women for their service,” Clinton said Saturday in a speech to the Human Rights Campaign. She also vowed to never treat support from LGBT voters as a “political bargaining chip.”

Source: The Washington Post

7. California governor signs bill to eliminate racial profiling
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill Saturday that calls for law enforcement officials to identify and eliminate cases of racial profiling. The measure requires agencies to record the perceived ethnicity of every civilian they stop, along with the reason for the stop and whether an arrest was made. Activists cheered Brown, but law enforcement officials criticized his decision. An American Civil Liberties Union report said California has seen 149 civilian deaths by law enforcement this year, the highest in the country.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

8. Heavy rains flood Southeast
President Obama declared an emergency to authorize federal aid for South Carolina as heavy rains flooded the state and surrounding region Saturday. The storm, expected to continue through Sunday and Monday and possibly drop a historic amount of rainfall, comes after the area mostly dodged Hurricane Joaquin, which has moved north. In events attributed to the weather, three people have recently died in traffic accidents in South Carolina and one person died in North Carolina when a tree fell on the interstate.

Source: USA Today, CNN

9. Hundreds possibly still missing after Guatemala landslide
About 350 people are still unaccounted for after a Guatemala landslide struck near the capital Thursday night. Rescuers were still searching Sunday, though it was doubtful they would find any more survivors. At least 86 people died when tons of earth, rock, and trees fell from the hillside above El Cambray, burying homes under debris.

Source: CNN, The Guardian

10. Nationals’ Max Scherzer tosses his second no-hitter of 2015 season
Max Scherzer led his Washington Nationals to a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday with a no-hitter, his second of the 2015 season. The game, the tail-end of a doubleheader between the division rivals, made Scherzer just the fifth pitcher to accomplish that feat during the regular season, and the first since Nolan Ryan in 1973. The ace called his no-hitters “bittersweet,” since the Nats will miss the playoffs after a lackluster season.

Source: ESPN

Julie Kliegman

Sunday Talk: Girl you know it’s true


Last week, shortly after Pope Francisblessed” Washington, John Boehner held a tearsoaked press conference during which he announced that he’ll be resigning his seat at the end of the month.

This news sent shockwaves around the halls of Congress, and set in motionseries of events—unfortunate events—that would shake the GOP to its core.

By abdicating the House speakershipBoehner had single-handedly made it possible for the government to keep givingfree stuff” to special interest groups (e.g., women, blacks, poorsetc.)—much to the detriment of liberty.

In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d probably think that he’s part of the vast leftwing conspiracy.

Boehner’s move was a stinging rebuke to Ted Cruz and his freedom fighting compatriots, who were intent on stuffing the entire federal government into some lady parts.

Luckily for them, thanks to a previously scheduled hearing on Planned Parenthood, they had the opportunity to publicly browbeat a woman, before dispensing with the handouts.

Also, too

The GOPcontrolled Benghazi Committee was able to drive down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers, which is nice.

Morning lineup:

Meet the Press: Raging Narcissist Donald Trump (R); Others TBD.Face the Nation: Pre-empted by NFL Coverage.

This Week: Raging Narcissist Donald Trump (R); New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R);Bill O’Reilly (Fox News); Roundtable: (R); Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Keith Ellison(D-MN), Greta Van Susteren (Fox News) and Matt Bai (Yahoo News).

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT); Army Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.); Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker; Roundtable: Brit Hume (Fox News), Julie Pace (Associated Press), Ben Domenech (The Federalist) and Christi Parsons (Los Angeles Times).

State of the Union: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Rep.Marsha Blackburn (R-TN); Gun Control Activist Mark Kelly.

Evening lineup:

60 Minutes will feature: a report on self-driving cars (preview); an interview with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (preview); and, a report on French Catholic priest Father Patrick Desbois’ search to uncover the unknown victims of the Holocaust (preview).

After the shooting in Oregon, Stephen Colbert shared some thoughts on pretending and honesty.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

Monday: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Ballerina Misty Copeland.Tuesday: Former President Bill Clinton (D); Comedian Billy Eichner; Rock BandFlorence and the Machine.

Wednesday: Actress Gina Rodriguez; Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke; Rock BandTame Impala.

Thursday: Actress Cate Blanchett: Airbnb Co-Founder Brian Chesky.

Friday: TV Host James Corden; Co-Founder/CEO of VICE Media Shane Smith; SingerHalsey.

And, during his first week in the anchor seat, Trevor Noah argued that Donald Trump would make a perfect African president.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah:

Monday: Actor Seth Rogen; Tuesday: Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin; Wednesday: Documentary Filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky; Rachel Maddow (MSNBC).


A Florida state Rep. was caught scheming to lock up a Congressional seat held by a black Democrat.

In a private gathering during last month’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting, state Rep. Janet Adkins told a group of North Florida GOP activists that the key to defeating Corrine Brown, a black Jacksonville Democrat, is boosting the number of black prisoners in her district.”You draw [Brown’s seat] in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote,” said Adkins, a Nassau County Republican, referring to black residents. […]

On maps passed by both the House and Senate during an August redistricting special session, lawmakers redrew Brown’s seat to stretch west from Jacksonville to the Tallahassee region. It currently winds from Jacksonville to Orlando and is considered one of the most gerrymandered seats in the country.

Meanwhile, in the great state of Indiana…

The state House floor leader was forced to step down, after his cellphone fell into the hands of some sex-crazed Canadians … or something.

Rep. Jud McMillin, a rising star in the state’s Republican Party, abruptly resigned Tuesday.The Indianapolis Star has learned that the surprise resignation came after a sexually explicit video was sent via text message from McMillin’s cellphone. It’s unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed. […]

McMillin, whose Facebook page says he is married, did not respond to messages fromThe Star seeking comment. He said in an emailed statement only that he has “decided the time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family.” […]

McMillin said in a text message last week, “My phone was stolen in Canada and out of my control for about 24 hours. I have just been able to reactivate it under my control. Please disregard any messages you received recently. I am truly sorry for anything offensive you may have received.” […]

In 2005, his career as an assistant county prosecutor in Ohio came to an end amid questions about his sexual conduct. He admitted to a relationship with the complainant in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting, but he insisted the relationship began after he stepped off the case, according to the Dayton Daily News. He resigned a week after he stopped working on the case.

And, finally…

In the wake of the latest mass shooting, Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. urged his fellow Christians tojoin God’s army.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) was quickly criticized after calling on Christians to arm themselves following Thursday’s mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon.According to The Tennessean, Ramsey made the remarks on his official Facebook page.

“While this is not the time for widespread panic, it is a time to prepare,” he wrote on Friday morning. “I would encourage my fellow Christians who are serious about their faith to think about getting a handgun carry permit. I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it. Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise.” […]

“The recent spike in mass shootings across the nation is truly troubling,” Ramsey wrote. “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West.”

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Silly Rabbit


Médecins Sans Frontières


At Least 19 Killed… Army: Bombing ‘May Have Resulted In Collateral Damage To A Nearby Medical Facility’… Local Police: Taliban Used Hospital As Hideout… Doctors Without Borders: Bombing Continued For Half An Hour After Mistake Was Clear… U.N. Rights Chief: May Be ‘War Crime’…

10 things you need to know today: October 3, 2015

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press


1. Authorities: Oregon shooting victims range from ages 18 to 67
The nine people fatally shot by Chris Harper-Mercer at an Oregon college Thursday ranged in age from 18 to 67, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Friday. Some were teenagers just starting classes for the first time at Umpqua Community College, and others were adults going back to school. Lawrence Levine, the 67-year-old, was an assistant professor of English. Authorities have not announced an official motive for Harper-Mercer, who reportedly had a cache of 13 weapons, body armor, and ammunition.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

2. Possible U.S. airstrike mistakenly hits Doctors Without Borders hospital, kills at least 9
A U.S.-led airstrike may have mistakenly hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday. At least nine staff members reportedly died and 37 more people were seriously injured. Dozens more are still unaccounted for. U.S. forces have repeatedly attacked Kunduz since the Taliban took control of the city Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. coalition confirmed they led the airstrike suspected of hitting the hospital at 2 a.m. and said the incident is under investigation.

Source: The Washington Post

3. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step down in December
Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Friday he will step down in December. Duncan is one of two remaining members of President Obama’s original 2009 cabinet still serving in the same position, the other being Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. In a letter to White House staff, Duncan said that he will be returning to Chicago to live with his family. Obama tapped Education Department official John King Jr. to replace Duncan as acting secretary.

Source: The Associated Press

4. The U.S. economy added 142,000 jobs in September
The U.S. economy added a lackluster 142,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. That’s below the 173,000 initially reported for August, and that number was revised down to 136,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

5. Rep. Jason Chaffetz plots run for House speaker
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) may be the latest candidate vying to replace John Boehner as House speaker, multiple sources told Politico. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called out the current favorite, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), over his comments applauding the Benghazi oversight committee for successfully tarnishing Hillary Clinton’s reputation. McCarthy is still seen as the favorite to replace Boehner when he steps down at the end of October.

Source: Politico

6. Pope Francis met with openly gay couple during U.S. visit
Pope Francis met in private with an openly gay former student at the Vatican Embassy during his September U.S. trip. The student, Yayo Grassi, has been in a committed same-sex relationship for 19 years and brought his partner with him. The revelation comes in stark contrast to the pope’s brief meeting with same-sex marriage opponent Kim Davis. The Vatican has since released a statement saying that the meeting between Francis and Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”

Source: CNN

7. Obama: Conflict in Syria won’t become U.S.-Russia ‘proxy war’
President Obama criticized Russia’s increased military actions in Syria on Friday, but vowed to keep the conflict from becoming a “proxy war” between the two global powers. President Vladimir Putin has claimed his tanks and troops in Syria are targeting ISIS, but the U.S. has been skeptical. “This is not a smart strategic move on Russia’s part,” Obama said in a news conference. “It’s only strengthening ISIL, and that’s not good for anybody.”

Source: The Associated Press

8. Coast Guard searches for U.S. cargo ship lost in hurricane
The Coast Guard is searching for El Faro, a U.S.-flagged container ship lost in Hurricane Joaquin. The ship, headed for Puerto Rico with 28 Americans and five Poles, last made contact Thursday morning. The storm is no longer expected to directly hit the U.S., but forecasters said the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic could still see heavy rain over the weekend.

Source: CNN

9. Top FIFA corporate sponsors call for Sepp Blatter to step down
FIFA corporate sponsors Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, and Anheuser-Busch all called on President Sepp Blatter to step down immediately from the soccer governing body. “Every day that passes, the image and reputation of FIFA continues to tarnish,” Coca-Cola said in a statement Friday. Swiss authorities recently announced a criminal investigation of Blatter, who has maintained he will step down in February after a special election to select his replacement. In May, the U.S. indicted several top FIFA officials on corruption charges.

Source: The New York Times

10. Saturday Night Live to kick off 41st season
Miley Cyrus will kick off Saturday Night Live‘s 41st season, serving as both host and musical guest. Hillary Clinton is set to appear in the show’s opening sketch alongside cast member Kate McKinnon. All of SNL‘s cast members from last season are returning, and they’ll be joined by newcomer Jon Rudnitsky, who some have already criticized for a history of racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes. Watch the season premiere at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Source: NBC, The New York Times

Julie Kliegman