Kerry defends Iranian nuclear pact.
Pakistani police halt NATO supply truck blockade.
Honduras ruling party candidate takes lead, claims win.
Sandy Hook massacre report due to be released today.
Texas braces for freezing rain and sleet.
ENDA gets past filibuster in the Senate.
New Jersey mall locked down after gunman opens fire.
Supreme Court turns down Oklahoma abortion case.
Sen. Rand Paul faces more plagiarism charges.
It’s Election Day in a lot of places, including Virginia, New York, and New Jersey.
Alert Starfleet — There are billions of Earth-like planets in the galaxy.
It may take a day or so for me — and a lot of people — to get back up to speed after the time off (even if some of us had to work on Friday) for the 4th of July holiday weekend. So forgive me if the postings are a tad light today.
I’m slowly going through my newsfeeds and catching up with some of the things I may have missed, such as Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signing an ultrasound requirement bill in Wisconsin. He did it when basically no one was looking and on a slow news day when everyone else was either at the beach or sleeping in.
This was not totally unexpected; Gov. Walker has always proclaimed his anti-choice views. But what I find interesting is that he basically kept the signing under wraps as if he knew that if he made any public show about signing it, he’d get a lot of backlash. Or at least that’s how it appears. The same with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. New abortion restrictions were slipped into the state budget, and he signed the bill like he was running on his way to catch a bus, saying nothing in the process except, “Well, we have a new budget. Gotta go, seeya.”
Both of these men were proud and loud to campaign on their anti-abortion creds, but when it comes to signing the bill, they dodge the press and do it like their bail release papers. Maybe they just know that they’re doing something that they know a majority of Americans don’t want to see done, but they’re also afraid that if they actually veto a bill that they know will end up costing their state millions of dollars to defend in court and get people rallying against them, they might not be able to run for re-election without incurring the wrath of the American Taliban.
It’s also been a while since we caught up with David Brooks, and maybe it’s just as well. Friday he penned a column in support of the coup in Egypt and put forward the notion that perhaps the Islamists that were running the country under President Morsi weren’t mentally capable of governing.
Islamists might be determined enough to run effective opposition movements and committed enough to provide street-level social services. But they lack the mental equipment to govern.
Yikes; racist much? It’s one thing to say that religious fundamentalists like the Islamists or the Taliban or right-wing Christians are not on board with the idea of democracy such as what we attempt to practice here in the U.S. and other nations and that secular constitutional governments are not their cup of Tea, so to speak, but to suggest that they lack the capacity for democracy takes it to a whole other level. Now we’re into the “white man’s burden” that recalls the age of missionaries armed with bibles and Rudyard Kipling verses going into whole continents and pillaging them in the name of Christ and Standard Oil. And, according to our Mr. Brooks, the people on the receiving end of our beneficent plundering will never be capable of American democracy, white bread, and the three-martini lunch.
In reality, the U.S. has no ability to influence political events in Egypt in any important way. The only real leverage point is at the level of ideas. Right now, as Walter Russell Mead of Bard College put it, there are large populations across the Middle East who feel intense rage and comprehensive dissatisfaction with the status quo but who have no practical idea how to make things better. The modern thinkers who might be able to tell them have been put in jail or forced into exile. The most important thing outsiders can do is promote those people and defend those people, decade after decade.
It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.
To be fair, at least Mr. Brooks didn’t posit that the best thing for Egypt would be another Pinochet, like the Wall Street Journal suggested.
You don’t have to wonder what America would be like if we allowed the religious fundamentalists to take over the country and they decided who does or does not have the mental ingredients for their idea of government and democracy. We’re already seeing it in places like Texas with Gov. Rick Perry, who, unlike his counterparts in Ohio and Wisconsin, has no problem bragging about how he just loves to control the uteri in his state.
Whether they’re standing on a soapbox or sneaking it through in the middle of the state budget, they’re getting their way.
Those are just a couple of things that caught my attention as I slowly get back to speed. There will be more coming, more’s the pity. It’s going to be a long summer.
Coup in Egypt — Morsi out, military in.
U.S. and Germany to discuss N.S.A. activities.
Taliban ignoring peace overtures.
Team to examine the site of the fatal fire in Arizona.
Chrysler recalling almost half a million vehicles.
R.I.P. Douglas Engelbart, 88, inventor of the computer mouse.
The Tigers beat the Blue Jays 6-2; Max Scherzer goes to 13-0.
Happy Fourth of July.
Syria — Rebel losses make choices tough for allies.
Turkey — Police push protesters out of Istanbul square.
Afghanistan — Taliban still surging ahead of election and NATO departure.
Leaks raise question of outsourcing intelligence work.
Obama administration drops opposition to age limits on morning-after pill.
The Tigers lost on the road to KC 3-2.
Guatemala’s former dictator Efrian Rios Montt convicted of genocide.
E-mails about Benghazi put the White House on the defensive.
Pakistan votes amid campaign violence.
Woman rescued from collapsed building in Bangladesh 17 days later.
Fertilizer blast volunteer rescuer arrested with bomb-making material.
The Tigers walloped the Indians 10-4.
Updates on the bombing from the Boston Globe.
Supreme Court hears arguments on gene patents.
Protests erupt in Venezuela after government rejects recount.
New York gun control law kicks in.
Last remaining abortion provider in Mississippi gets reprieve.
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced, including one for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Secretary of State Kerry hints at conditions for talks with North Korea.
Suspected U.S. drone kills 4 in Pakistan.
Venezuelans elect Nicolás Maduro, former President Hugo Chávez’s chosen successor.
Trudeaumania: The Next Generation — Justin Trudeau elected leader of Liberals in Canada.
Bail set at $3 million for ex-justice of the peace in Texas in D.A. murder case.
They’re back — Giant African land snails return to South Florida.
R.I.P. Sir Colin Davis, longtime conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Adam Scott won the Masters after a playoff with Angel Cabrera. This is Australia’s first Masters.
The Tigers beat Oakland 10-1.
China agrees to help denuke North Korea.
It’s Election Day in Venezuela.
Bus crash kills five Russians in Belgium.
Fire kills five in small Idaho town.
Sixteen adults sickened at children’s store in Texas.
Poll: Latinos move in favor of marriage equality.
Today in History: A lot happened on April 14.
The Tigers beat Oakland 7-3.
3 U.S. soldiers killed in helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Quake shakes a large area of southern California.
Oil prices keep going down.
Report: Half-trillion needed to update U.S. schools.
Big Gulp Safe — Judge blocks NY ban on large sugary drinks.
Falkland Island residents vote to stay with Britain.
Both Koreas are rattling sabres.
Secretary Hagel is having a tough time on his visit to Afghanistan.
Opposition leader joins Venezuelan presidential campaign.
Arizona’s GOP governor is trying to sell Obamacare to her party.
Go figure — Oil prices down based on strong U.S. jobs report.
Japan marks 2nd anniversary of earthquake and tsunami.
Syrian rebels may get U.S. aid and training.
Chuck Hagel is the new Secretary of Defense.
Sequester Smackdown — It’s Boehner vs. Obama.
Christie Caves — Another vocal opponent of Obamacare will take the money for Medicaid.
The Supreme Court backed the government’s surveillance program.
Neon Diplomacy — Dennis Rodman tours North Korea.
Factory fire kills over 100 in Bangladesh.
Egypt’s top judges don’t like President Morsi’s “unprecedented” decrees.
Homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy were robbed over Thanksgiving.
Cops arrest 42 people in a melee after a party in San Jose.
Florida woman arrested for riding a manatee.
“My kingdom for a DNA scan” — Scientists may have found the remains of King Richard III.
It may have taken Florida a long time to declare the winner in the presidential race (and embarrassed the state yet again), but Arizona is still counting votes.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s said Saturday that approximately 486,405 ballots still have to be counted across the state, representing more than a quarter of the 1.8 million votes cast. About 322,000 of those uncounted ballots came from Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and many of its suburbs. The statewide total included 307,620 early ballots and 178,785 provisional ballots.
And the Senate race in that state is still not over, according to Richard Carmona, the Democratic candidate.
The latest figures show Carmona trailing by some 78,000 votes with nearly half a million ballots still uncounted. Victory for the Democrat would be uphill climb by any reckoning, but it’s mathematically possible. His campaign notes that there are up to hundreds of thousands of uncounted provisional ballots that could also affect the race.
Carmona conceded the race on election night, telling his supports, “We didn’t win tonight, but when you look at the results it’s clear that Arizona is moving toward moderation.”
Now his campaign is wondering if it was too soon.
Across the country there are still seven House races that are still outstanding, and Allen West still hasn’t given up on his hopes to keep his seat, although that seems to be pretty much all in his mind rather than in the official count.
By the way, this happens in just about every election; there are always races that come down to a handful of votes and a coin toss. It’s just that this time around, it makes you wonder if all those efforts at voter ID and blatant attempts to suppress the vote in some states had a hand in it.
From the Miami Herald:
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A majority of Puerto Ricans have opted for the first time to become the 51st U.S. state in what jubilant members of the pro-statehood party call a resounding sign that the island territory is on the road to losing its second-class status.
But Tuesday’s vote comes with an asterisk and an imposing political reality: The island remains bitterly divided over its relationship to the United States and many question the validity of this week’s referendum.
There’s also the fact that voters also ousted the pro-statehood governor, eliminating one of the main advocates for a cause that would need the eventual approval of the U.S. Congress.
“Statehood won a victory without precedent but it’s an artificial victory,” said Angel Israel Rivera Ortiz, a political science professor at the University of Puerto Rico. “It reflects a divided and confused electorate that is not clear on where it’s going.”
President Barack Obama had said he would support the will of the Puerto Rican people on the question of the island’s relationship to the U.S., referred to simply on the island as its “status,” and this week’s referendum was intended to be the barometer.
Politics aside, it’s long past time that Puerto Rico became a state. The current status gives the people of the island the responsibilities — taxes, the draft — of U.S. citizenship — which they have had since 1917 — but lacking some key rights, including being able to vote in a presidential election unless they’re living on the mainland, and no vote in Congress. In short, they’re a colony, and that’s a relic of imperialism that we should have abandoned a hundred years ago.
There will be some push-back from the Republicans, especially the knuckle-draggers who claim that the island should declare English the “official” language before admittance (when English becomes the “official” language here, we can consider it), that the majority of the population is poor and dependent on government services (hello, Mississippi), and that they will all be Democrats and add two more D’s to the Senate. Given the GOP’s current standing with the Latino community, perhaps admitting Puerto Rico would go a long way to mending a fence or two.
By the way, if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state, here’s what the new American flag could look like:
I like it.
Okay, folks, everyone on stage for the big Democracy number.
This is it. If you haven’t already voted, get out there. If you know people who need a ride or help getting to the polling place, do it. If you have to work, tell your boss that you need to come in late or leave early. (In fact, in a lot of states, it’s required for employers to grant their employees time off to vote without penalty.) If you’re registered and you have the wherewithal to do it, then do it. No excuses.
And for those of you who are of a mind that your vote doesn’t count, or they’re all crooks, or there’s no difference between candidates, or you’re not going to buy into the whole establishment trip of going through the motions of “democracy” when we all know that it’s really controlled by some secret organization that watches and manipulates our every move and it’s all futile and you want no part of it, vote anyway. Piss off the mind controllers for once.
Democracy is messy. It’s supposed to be. It’s designed by people, run by people, and people are human, prone to error, ego, and limited vision at times. That’s why we elect people to do things and help organize and make things work for all of us. Sometimes they screw up. Sometimes they’re in it just for themselves or those they want to impress. But it eventually works out and most of the time for the better. This experiment of America has been doing all right for the last 236 years or so, and we’re getting pretty good at it. And every so often — every two years, as a matter of fact — you get a chance to actually do something about it. And if it’s not exactly to your liking, then make it work. It’s up to you.
Or, as TBogg explains:
Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie-Baking Apple-Cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar.
You don’t live there.
Grow the fuck up.
Now get out there and vote.