Monday, November 9, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Election Results

As noted below, Matt Bevin (R) won the Kentucky governor race.  He’s vowed to dismantle the state’s version of Obamacare, so roughly 9% of the people who have insurance through the exchange called Kynect are in jeopardy of losing it.

In Houston, the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance was repealed thank to the usual freak-out tactics of the far right.

Ohio rejected the referendum on recreational marijuana, and Toledo elected Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson to a full term.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election Day

In Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas, they’re holding elections.  Kentucky will choose a new governor; the choice is between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin.  If Mr. Bevin’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he is the Teabagger who tried to primary Mitch McConnell in 2014.  Although Kentucky is mostly a red state, they have a tradition of electing Democrats to the governorship, and Mr. Conway might pull it off.

Ohio has a bunch of state-wide ballot issues plus a mayoral election in Toledo.  That election is interesting only in that it’s pitting the city’s first black woman mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, against a large field, including former mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Mike Bell.  Ms. Hicks-Hudson became mayor by appointment when Mayor D. Michael Collins died in February 2015.

One of the other issues on the ballot in Ohio is the legalization of marijuana.  So maybe the state will become Ohigho.

In Texas, Houston will vote on an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance.  As you can probably imagine, this is bringing out some of the more vocal nutsery against it, including Gov. Greg Abbott who is — spoiler alert — against it.  He seems overly concerned about the toilet habits of people.

If that’s not enough to keep you entertained, cheer up: we only have a year and five days until the one in 2016.  I can’t wait.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wow, Canada

Canada tosses the Conservatives out.  Via the Toronto Star:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

That title, which seemed improbable a mere 11 weeks ago, is now set to become a reality after the Liberals’ historic, come-from-behind election result, besting incumbent Conservatives and hopeful New Democrats in one of the country’s longest and costliest elections.

“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight. It’s time for change in this country my friends, real change,” Trudeau said in Montreal.

“A positive, optimistic hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change.”

The election ushers in a new era for Canada as Trudeau was swept to power on a vow to change how Canadians were governed and a commitment to end what he branded as the Conservatives’ divisive style of politics.

Preliminary results had the Liberals at 185 seats, comfortably more than the 170 seats needed for a majority government in the expanded 338-seat House of Commons. It’s a stunning rebound for a party that had been knocked down to 34 seats in the 2011 election and left for dead.

The Conservatives won 101 seats, the New Democrats 41, the Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party had one seat, won by leader Elizabeth May.

The day was a humiliating loss for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has served as prime minister since 2006, and a crushing night for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Harper, who had led his Conservatives to three successive victories, immediately signalled he would be stepping down as leader and instructed the Conservative party to appoint an interim leader and launch a process to select a new leader, according to a party statement.

Let’s hope that this sets an example for their neighbor that’s planning on an election in the near future.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And Again

Here we are again with another mass shooting.

This time it’s a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I’ve already provided links for the details.  Now comes the inevitable introspection, the ready-for-soundbite releases from the gun lobby and the politicians who keep them happy and the guns on the street.  Now comes the “now is not the time to talk about gun control” and the excuses that it’s too soon.  It’s always too soon until it’s too late.

Look, there I go, launching into my own cliches.  All right then, here’s Charlie Pierce who outdoes me and most other people armed with a keyboard.

What happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.

What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unspeakable.” We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly. We should speak of it as terrorism, which is what it was. We should speak of it as racial violence, which is what it was.

We should speak of it as an attack on history, which it was. This was the church founded by Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was convicted in a secret trial in which many of the witnesses testified after being tortured. After they hung him, a mob burned down the church he built. His sons rebuilt it. On Wednesday night, someone turned it into a slaughter pen.


This was not an unspeakable act. Sylvia Johnson, one of only three survivors of the massacre, is speaking about it.

“She said that he had reloaded five different times… and he just said ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.'”

There is a timidity that the country can no longer afford. This was not an unthinkable act. A man may have had a rat’s nest for a mind, but it was well thought out. It was a cool, considered crime, as well planned as any bank robbery or any computer fraud. If people do not want to speak of it, or think about it, it’s because they do not want to follow the story where it inevitably leads. It’s because they do not want to follow this crime all the way back to the mother of all American crimes, the one that Denmark Vesey gave his life to avenge. What happened on Wednesday night was a lot of things. A massacre was only one of them.

And they will keep happening.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Short Takes

Tories win close to a majority in the British election.

Drone kills al-Qaeda leader who claimed credit for Charlie Hebdo attack.

The U.S. is arming and paying moderate Syrian rebels.

Senate passes Iran nuclear deal review bill.

Another for-profit college hits the hard times.

The Tigers finally win one off the Chicago White Sox 4-1.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thursday, December 11, 2014

“The C.I.A. Is Lying”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) lost his re-election bid last month, so he must have decided he had nothing to lose by going on to the floor of the Senate and disclosing classified information to back up his accusation that the C.I.A. lied about the scope and amount of “enhanced interrogation.”

Udall, an outbound Democrat from Colorado, began highlighting key conclusions from the CIA’s so-called Panetta Review, written in 2011 and named after then-agency Director Leon Panetta. Its critical findings, in addition to the agency’s attempts to prevent the Senate from seeing it, Udall said, demonstrates that the CIA is still lying about the scope of enhanced-interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration.

That deceit is continuing today under current CIA Director John Brennan, Udall said.

“The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” Udall said. “In other words: The CIA is lying.”

Obama, Udall said, “has expressed full confidence in Director Brennan and demonstrated that trust by making no effort at all to rein him in.” Udall additionally referred to Brennan’s “failed leadership” and suggested that he should resign.


As he spoke, Udall continued to give a blistering and detailed account of what he portrayed as the CIA leadership’s refusal to come clean with the American people about its now-defunct interrogation program. Udall accused the CIA of outright lying to the committee during its investigation.

“Torture just didn’t happen, after all,” Udall said. “Real, actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the CIA.”

Udall said it was bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them, he said, was incomprehensible. Udall called on Obama “to purge” his administration of anyone who was engaged in torturing prisoners.

We all expect the C.I.A. to keep secrets or outright lie about them from the general public.  But when they do it to the Senate or even the White House, that is a crime.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In Our Name

The executive summary of the CIA torture report from the Senate Intelligence Committee will hit the streets this morning, but the reaction to it is already hitting the fan.

Various senators of both parties are worried that our enemies will use it as justification for attacks against American embassies around the world.  The Obama administration has already put them on heightened alert, which is a prudent thing to do, but it’s not as if we don’t already know what’s in the report and if anyone was going to hit back at us for doing what we did, they would have done it already.

It is right to be concerned about the response.  We already know that some very bad people will exploit the report for their own ends or use it to justify attacks on the administration.  And I don’t mean just Dick Cheney and the GOP; I’m talking about ISIS and their ilk.  But, to echo Paul Waldman, acknowledging the horrors done in our name should make us accountable for what was done.

The darkest chapters in our history and the most outrageous government decisions and programs eventually move from a place of contestation to a place of consensus in public debate. Outside of a few fringe extremists, no one today holds the position that slavery, the Trail of Tears, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, Jim Crow, or the witch hunts of McCarthyism were the right and proper thing for America to do. The Bush torture program may not be even remotely close in scale to those atrocities. But just as there is now consensus that all of those things are moral blots on the country’s history, if the full truth about torture comes out, a consensus could eventually emerge that this, too, is an unambiguous stain.

The cynicism necessary to attempt to blame the blowback from their torture program on those who want it exposed is truly a wonder. On one hand, they insist that they did nothing wrong and the program was humane, professional, and legal. On the other they implicitly accept that the truth is so ghastly that if it is released there will be an explosive backlash against America. Then the same officials who said “Freedom isn’t free!” as they sent other people’s children to fight in needless wars claim that the risk of violence against American embassies is too high a price to pay, so the details of what they did must be kept hidden.

The world already knows what we did.  We already know who ordered it and who should be held responsible for what happened then.  But like they say in every rehab program, the first and most vital step is admitting we have a problem.  The rest is recovery.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Short Takes

Hong Kong police begin to clear protest site.

Japan falls into recession; Europe hopes to avoid it.

Four killed in Jerusalem synagogue assault.

Parents of hostage killed by ISIS speak out.

Too late — The doctor with Ebola who was brought to Nebraska for treatment died.

NBC executive hired ten weeks ago gets canned.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Short Takes

The leader of Hong Kong refused to resign in the face of the Umbrella movement.

ISIS is pressing their attack on border towns in Syria and Iraq.

None of the 100 people who came in contact with the Ebola patient in Texas are showing symptoms.

Oil prices are dropping; crude is under $90 a barrel.

JP Morgan hacked; over 76 million households affected.

The Tigers got walloped 12-3 by the Orioles in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Short Takes

Intruder made it as far as the East Room in the White House.

Underestimating ISIS was rampant.

Hong Kong Occupy Central movement continues to demand democracy.

Supreme Court blocks early voting in Ohio.

Midwest air travel is still recovering from Friday’s fire at FAA facility.

Club shooting in Miami continues cycle of violence.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Short Takes

The Tigers clinched the American League Central division championship for the fourth year in a row by beating the Twins 3-0.

Hong Kong protests bring crackdown by cops, which bring more protests.

President Obama says U.S. underestimated the rise of ISIS.

More than 30 feared dead in volcano eruption in Japan.

American doctor exposed to Ebola admitted to NIH.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland Votes “Nae”

Via the BBC:

Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence.

With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side polled 2,001,926, votes to 1,617,989 for “Yes”.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and urged the unionist parties to deliver on more powers.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and said the commitments on extra powers would be honoured.

The best part — aside from the fact that it was settled peacefully and democratically — is that we won’t be plagued with endless clips from Braveheart any more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Short Takes

Iraq: Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Baghdad.

An Egyptian court convicted three journalists of committing journalism.

The Supreme Court largely upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses.

Mormon church ousts “Ordain Women” founder.

The Tigers had the night off.

Sunday, June 22, 2014