Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Presidential Con Game: Will Sarah Palin Try to Hoodwink her Supporters Again in 2016?

by Nomad

Is it really possible that, after the last bogus One Nation bus tour in 2012, that Sarah Palin is considering a presidential run? Don't bet it on.

Yesterday Huffington Post reported that Sarah Palin may not be yet finished with American politics. 
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, says she hopes to run for office again and is urging GOP leaders to have "more guts" as they pursue their agenda.
Hard to believe that the GOP leaders can be spurred to act any more outrageously. They seem to be doing fine without any taunting from Wasilla. 
She told the Fox News interviewer:
"The more they're pouring on the more I'm going to bug the crap out of them by being out there with a voice."
That could of course apply to either party. For some time, she has become as  a liability to the Republicans as a threat to the Democrats. (For the independents, she is just a very bad joke with an endless punchline.)

You might ask yourself whether this time she is serious about jumping into politics again, Is it possible? 

To that, we only need to use the magical powers of the Internet to look back to the last presidential race. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Quarantines and the Arrogance of Governor Chris Christie

by Nomad

Governors Christie and Cuomo's decision to implement a quarantine for all travellers for Ebola may be an idea that both will soon regret.
It opens a whole lot of questions about their quality of leadership and the ability to think rationally in a crisis. 

On Friday of last week, we witnessed Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York giving a press conference. They had come to announce that all travelers from the Ebola-stricken areas of West Africa would be put into a 21-day quarantine. All people entering the country through Newark Liberty and Kennedy International Airport would be affected by the ban. The decision had been made following the report of a Dr. Craig Spencer who was New York's first and only case of Ebola. 

The Decision to Quarantine
In some ways it was an astonishing bit of theatre.
Christie and Cuomo implied that the CDC had failed to protect the American people. In fact, he said that the measures were necessary because "the CDC keeps changing its mind." He offered no examples. 
Christie went on to imply that he, as a governor, knew more than nearly of all of the experts who have studied Ebola for years.  

From all reports, neither governor consulted medical experts or the White House before taking this step. These measures went far beyond what federal guidelines advised and what infectious disease experts have recommended.

Actually, the president had already issued its opinion that such a quarantine would most likely do more harm than good. In all three states, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, the governors have decided to, as Cuomo put it, "err on the side of caution."

So, to put their words into action, on Friday, Kaci Hickox, a nurse and epidemiologist for Doctors Without Borders, was detained at at Newark International Airport and was immediately forced into a mandatory quarantine. She had just returned from Sierra Leone, one of the three worst-hit countries,  yet showed absolutely no signs of an infection (the only time when the disease is contagious.)

The quarantine, which consisted on a unheated tent structure outside a university hospital in Newark, provided only the bare essentials, a port-a-potty, no shower. She has been also reportedly given only paper scrubs to wear. If Ms. Hickox was not sick when she arrived, she now has perhaps a better chance of catching a nasty flu.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Koch Brothers and the Opening of the Gates of Hell

by Nomad

An insane tabloid article from 1995 proclaims that Hell has released its laid-off work force. And very soon, says a mystic, the demons will be making the earthly realm their home.
Laughable? Yes, Ridiculous? Of course. But then again, let's look at what was happening in 1995.

I found this silly article in the November 21, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Weekly World News.

It's pretty standard fare for a tabloid, along with special diets and the latest travails of Bat Boy
(Like the half-boy, half bat, the Reverend Magnist of St. Paul also appears to be a non-existent character. At least, there was no trace of him online.)

I like the part where it says:
"We can expect to see two very ugly results of downsizing [in Hell]... First, demons will be appearing more often. We'll be seeing the reddish horned creatures everywhere...Secondly, more people will be going insane as the spirits of the demons take possession of their minds and bodies.."
Christian theology with a capitalistic spin. At the end, the mystic added  that we all must be on guard against these demons on the loose "whether they keep their own hideous bodies or take over those of our fellow human."
But suppose just for a second (and no longer) we take this seriously. What was going on in 1995 to support the Reverend's notions? 
Hmmm, let's see what a little research uncovers...

As one source reminds us, this was actually an important moment in the Republican party. Around this time, the Koch brothers set up a shell company called Triad Management which was used to funnel millions in secret money to help the Republican Party. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Abortion and LIFE: What Life was Like Before Roe v. Wade

by Nomad

On Feb 27 1970, LIFE magazine featured an article on the subject of abortion. What's interesting about the article is that it gives us a snapshot of what life was like for women before abortion became legal. 

The Revolution in Paradise
In 1970, after a little over ten years as a state, Hawaii started a revolution. It became the first state to legalize abortions at the request of the woman. A short time later, New York soon followed, allowing abortions up to the 24th week of the pregnancy. 
Prior to that time, Colorado, California, Oregon and North Carolina had abortion laws that allowed for the procedure only in cases of rape, incest "or in which the pregnancy would lead to permanent physical disability of the woman." (Presumably that would include a lethal risk to the mother.)

At a time when, as a LIFE magazine article in that year points out, 20 out of every 100,000 American women died of complications. One of those women, Geraldine "Gerri" Santoro, became a symbol for the pro-choice movement. (A graphic police photo of her body "naked, kneeling, collapsed upon the floor, with a bloody towel between her legs" after a self-administered abortion was published in 1973 and outraged a nation against the abortion laws.)

LIFE magazine article also gives other interesting information about abortion before the reforms. For example, most women who sought abortions were, contrary to conventional wisdom, married. Although the Catholic Church strictly forbade the procedure, more than 20% of the women who had abortions were Roman Catholic. Religious prohibitions did not seem to discourage the procedure. It only made it a shameful and more dangerous act.

Compared to today, the Church back then apparently had a different take on the abortion law. Boston's Archbishop Richard Cushing, was quoted as saying: 
Catholics do not need the support of civil law to be faithful to there religious convictions and they do not seek to impose their moral views on other members of society."
Given the controversy that followed, led by Christians and anti-abortion groups, that's a breathtaking statement. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bust: How Republicans Lost the War on Drugs 3/5

by Nomad

In past installments in this series on America's war on drugs, we examined Nixon and Ford. Now we turn to the Democratic president Jimmy Carter.
Deeply entrenched distrust for the president within the CIA would prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Part 3. Where the Rational Met Reality

Carter's Way
The 70s were a time of reformation after the hectic and often frightening social shakeups of the 60s. Watergate and the subsequent Church Senate Committee Investigations had opened up the heart of the political system and most Americans were appalled at the grimy business of running the country and managing the world.

What was needed was a complete overhaul starting at the top. Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian, peanut farmer with the down-home Georgian accent seemed to be the style of leadership the country demanded.
And so in 1976, against all expectations, The Waltons moved into the White House.

The white middle class conservative values of "dominant social order" were being re-evaluated, questioned and challenged in a variety of ways.
The extreme conservative opinion, typified by white frustration, tainted with bigotry and, simplistic, backward views of the world,  was being mocked weekly on television shows like All in the Family and other programs. It is no surprise then that the failed drug policy should once again come under greater scrutiny.

In some ways, President Carter did, in fact, pick up where President Ford had left off. And as we mentioned in the previous post, that new direction had already been sabotaged. While marijuana was now being considered harmless and non-addictive, cocaine was added to the same category. (We should take a closer look at the possible reason for this.) In any case, this coupling, for whatever reasons, proved to be a major blunder.

Both, under President Ford's directive, were now to receive far less attention from law enforcement. Meanwhile the focus was concentrated on the heroin trade. 

Progress combating the illegal import of heroin too was hampered. That had much to do with the CIA and its antagonism toward Carter and all he represented. 
It was common knowledge that high level intelligence officials in the agency had no great love for Carter. Perhaps it was to be expected since President Carter had campaigned as an outsider who was coming to Washington to clean the mess that the Church Committee had revealed.