Sunday, August 31, 2014

America exposed: Ferguson, MO

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” ― Toni Morrison, novelist, writer and winner recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

I HAVEN'T WRITTEN anything about Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, MO because I have felt almost paralyzed by the ruthlessness of his murder. And it was murder. How can shooting an unarmed teenager multiple times in the back who has his hands in the air be anything else?

The event has pulled back the wrapper on the farrago of race, racism, guns, violence, and what appears to increasing resemble a police state in America.

I'm sharing two articles with you: an opinion piece from The New York Times written by the estimable Nicholas Kristof and a news article from The Washington Post.

When Whites Just Don’t Get It
After Ferguson, Race Deserves More Attention, Not Less

By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
August 30, 2014

MANY white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.”

Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

Yes, you read that right!

So let me push back at what I see as smug white delusion. Here are a few reasons race relations deserve more attention, not less:

• The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data. The gap has worsened in the last decade, and the United States now has a greater wealth gap by race than South Africa did during apartheid. (Whites in America on average own almost 18 times as much as blacks; in South Africa in 1970, the ratio was about 15 times.)

• The black-white income gap is roughly 40 percent greater today than it was in 1967.

• A black boy born today in the United States has a life expectancy five years shorter than that of a white boy.

• Black students are significantly less likely to attend schools offering advanced math and science courses than white students. They are three times as likely to be suspended and expelled, setting them up for educational failure.

• Because of the catastrophic experiment in mass incarceration, black men in their 20s without a high school diploma are more likely to be incarcerated today than employed, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Nearly 70 percent of middle-aged black men who never graduated from high school have been imprisoned.

All these constitute not a black problem or a white problem, but an American problem. When so much talent is underemployed and overincarcerated, the entire country suffers.

Some straight people have gradually changed their attitudes toward gays after realizing that their friends — or children — were gay. Researchers have found that male judges are more sympathetic to women’s rights when they have daughters. Yet because of the de facto segregation of America, whites are unlikely to have many black friends: A study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that in a network of 100 friends, a white person, on average, has one black friend.

That’s unfortunate, because friends open our eyes. I was shaken after a well-known black woman told me about looking out her front window and seeing that police officers had her teenage son down on the ground after he had stepped out of their upscale house because they thought he was a prowler. “Thank God he didn’t run,” she said.

One black friend tells me that he freaked out when his white fiancĂ©e purchased an item in a store and promptly threw the receipt away. “What are you doing?” he protested to her. He is a highly successful and well-educated professional but would never dream of tossing a receipt for fear of being accused of shoplifting.

Some readers will protest that the stereotype is rooted in reality: Young black men are disproportionately likely to be criminals.

That’s true — and complicated. 

“There’s nothing more painful to me,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson once said, “than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery — then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

All this should be part of the national conversation on race, as well, and prompt a drive to help young black men end up in jobs and stable families rather than in crime or jail. We have policies with a robust record of creating opportunity: home visitation programs like Nurse-Family Partnership; early education initiatives like Educare and Head Start; programs for troubled adolescents like Youth Villages; anti-gang and anti-crime initiatives like Becoming a Man; efforts to prevent teen pregnancies like the Carrera curriculum; job training like Career Academies; and job incentives like the earned-income tax credit.

The best escalator to opportunity may be education, but that escalator is broken for black boys growing up in neighborhoods with broken schools. We fail those boys before they fail us.

So a starting point is for those of us in white America to wipe away any self-satisfaction about racial progress. Yes, the progress is real, but so are the challenges. The gaps demand a wrenching, soul-searching excavation of our national soul, and the first step is to acknowledge that the central race challenge in America today is not the suffering of whites.

At least 5 Ferguson officers apart from Brown shooter have been named in lawsuits

By Kimberly Kindy and Carol D. Leonnig, The Washington Post 
August 30, 2014

Federal investigators are focused on one Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, but at least five other police officers and one former officer in the town’s 53-member department have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

In four federal lawsuits, including one that is on appeal, and more than a half-dozen investigations over the past decade, colleagues of Darren Wilson’s have separately contested a variety of allegations, including killing a mentally ill man with a Taser, pistol-whipping a child, choking and hog-tying a child and beating a man who was later charged with destroying city property because his blood spilled on officers’ clothes.

Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd during a protest
for Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on Sunday, August 17, 2014. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

One officer has faced three internal affairs probes and two lawsuits over claims he violated civil rights and used excessive force while working at a previous police department in the mid-2000s. That department demoted him after finding credible evidence to support one of the complaints, and he subsequently was hired by the Ferguson force.

Police officials from outside Ferguson and plaintiffs’ lawyers say the nature of such cases suggests there is a systemic problem within the Ferguson police force. Department of Justice officials said they are considering a broader probe into whether there is a pattern of using excessive force that routinely violates people’s civil rights.

Counting Wilson, whose shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 set off a firestorm of protests and a national debate on race and policing, about 13 percent of Ferguson’s officers have faced ­excessive-force investigations. Comparable national data on excessive force probes is not available. But the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, funded by the libertarian Cato Institute, estimated on the basis of 2010 data that about 1 percent of U.S. police officers — 9.8 out of every 1,000 — will be cited for or charged with misconduct. Half of those cases involve excessive force.

The Ferguson Police Department and city officials declined to comment on the cases.

In all but one of the cases, the victims were black. Among the officers involved in the cases, one is African American.

Ferguson has plenty of company when it comes to federal scrutiny of police departments.

Under Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the Justice Department has initiated twice as many reviews of police departments for possible constitutional violations as the next most prolific of his predecessors. At least 34 other departments are under investigation for alleged civil rights violations.

But Clarence Harmon, a former St. Louis mayor and city police chief, said the number and types of allegations in Ferguson set the city’s department apart.

“The cases themselves are fairly extraordinary — so is the volume,” said Harmon, who in 1997 became the second black mayor of the city. “It’s prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices. I would be surprised if Justice didn’t make a recommendation that they be placed under scrutiny.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Keep those calls and emails coming

What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. — Rush Limbaugh, 2/29/12

HEE HEE HEE. It's working!

Those emails and calls to Rush Limbaugh's advertisers telling them we won't buy their products or use their services until they stop advertising on his hateful show are making a difference!

Advertisers are bailing. 

When advertisers become scarce, his show stops making money for stations that air him, and stations dump him.

So keep doing it. (Below is a list of Limbaugh's national advertisers along with their contact information.)

I've also attached an article from Blue Nation Review about stations giving old Slimebaugh the heave ho. Since one of the stations is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I called the station myself to double check, and it's true that they have changed the format of one of two stations to exclude him. Unfortunately he still runs on the other. But, c'mon, we're making inroads!

Rush Limbaugh Still Being Rush and Dropped by 4 More Stations
By Jill Bond
August 25, 2014

Conservatives’ favorite sexist, propagandist talk-show radio host has gotten himself thrown off of four more radio stations this month. Rush Limbaugh’s special brand of misogyny, racism, and hate has been getting pushback from protesters, and advertisers and broadcasters have taken notice.

When advertisers are confronted with Limbaugh’s offensive content, verbatim, many realize what disgusting and hateful speech comes out of Limbaugh and have refused to have their products associated with him. The Huffington Post reported the ad market’s hostility towards Limbaugh last year, saying that 48 of the top 50 network advertisers have “excluded Rush and [Sean] Hannity” orders. Rush is persona non grata in many advertising circles.

The latest stations to dump Limbaugh this past month are: WSJM in St. Joseph, Michigan, another in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a Pittsburgh station, and a California radio station. The radio stations are switching to anything but Rush, with a wide array of music, sports, and non-English speaking programs.

The boycotting of Limbaugh is paying off, as his critics have used free speech — something that Limbaugh likes to claim gives him the right to make all of his hate-filled speeches — to shut him down. There are consequences to calling women “sluts”, “receptacles for male semen”, and “abortion machines”. There are consequences for being a bigot that constantly attacks African Americans, Mexicans, homosexuals, the poor, and mentally ill.

There are so many compilations of Rush Limbaugh hate speech to be found on YouTube, so I just had to choose one. This one is focused on some of his misogynistic rantings:

Final Trim (weight loss pills)     800.655.8385

IDrive     818.878.9202

Blinds.Com / Home Depot     800.505.1905

Ovation Hair / Ovation Cell Therapy     760.597.5936

Dinovite (pet vitamins and supplements)     859.428.1000

American Bullion (gold buyers and sellers)     800.365.4189

Budget Blinds     866.590.6341

Power Swabs (teeth whitening) (testosterone)

Visiting Angels (elder care)     800.365.4189 (ex 1814)

Regus (office space across the US)     888.863.0551

Goldworth Financial     818.444.7102

Gold Bond (all products)

Tax Defense Partners (tax resolution)     866.IRS.PROB

DeVry (online university)     866.DEVR.34

ProFlowers     800.580.2913

Rite Aid (drug store chain)     800.RITE.AID

Dish Network (personal ID app)     650.206.2707

State Farm     309.766.2311

Apple Computer     408.996.1010

WAVE Home Solutions     800.293.9577

American Heart Association (PSAs)     214.373.6300

Buzzed Driving NHTSA / Ad Council     202.331.9153

Quicken Loans     800.863.4332

Unisom (sleeping aid)     423.821.4571

Super Beta Prostate     800.943.6465

UPS Store     858.455.8982

Napa Auto Parts     800.538.6272

The Company Corporation (online law service)     800-945-9958

Acura     800.382.2238

iHeartRadio (owned by Clear Channel)

Greenlight Financial Services     866.663.2783

Icy Hot Patch     423.821.4571

Hillsdale College     517-437-7341

Comcast Business Class     800-391-3000

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I conducted a survey

"We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER. You can use caps." — Daniel Snyder, Assface

REMEMBER Daniel SnyderHe's the owner of the Washington NFL football team, who continues to insist that the name he likes to call his team isn't racist or offensive. HE doesn't think it is, therefore it isn't. 

In fact he says the name is "positive." 

Never mind what Native Americans think. What hubris!!!!

Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University, San Bernardino, James Fenelon, a Dakota/Lakota, conducted a survey and discovered that a majority of Native Americans do indeed find Snyder's name offensive. (Below is the press release about the research.)

In the meantime, I conducted a survey and learned that I do not find calling Daniel Snyder "assface" offensive, so that's what I'm going to call him. It doesn't matter what he thinks of being called assface. I think it's positive, and that's enough for me. 

Please join me in calling him assface. In fact, let's franchise it. Can't wait to design the merch!

Press Release 

Submitted by James V. Fenelon, Sociology Department, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences 

Survey on Redskins team name found most American Indians believe it to be offensive and racist. 

The Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University, San Bernardino has conducted a study on racial and ethnic perspectives on the team name Redskins and associated issues, and found that the large majority of American Indians, when properly identified and polled, find the team name offensive, disrespectful and racist. 

The first question on the survey tells the basic story:
The Redskins team name is a racial or racist word and symbol. 
American Indians were 67 % in agreement, 12 % were neutral and 20 % disagreed with the statement. 

Other ethnic groups are spread across the three major categories of seeing the term Redskins as racist, as neutral, or disagreeing in seeing Redskins as racially offensive. Whites were 33% in agreement, 26% neutral, and 41% disagreed the term was racial, generally the reverse of American Indian responses. The neutral category played a significant role for whites in allowing them to not be seen as “racist” – upon further analysis more than 60% of whites reject the term Redskins as racist, while more than 60% of Indians see the term Redskins as racist. 

The survey was conducted based on similar work done on the Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo mascot, when analysts found mainstream research agendas systematically mis-identified Native Americans to benefit dominant ideologies that American Indians supported the mascot and team name. 

The Center's Principal Investigator, Professor James Fenelon, oversaw the collection of over 400 surveys directly from individuals who could be verified as being the race or ethnic group they claimed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jesse takes care of business

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain

FACEBOOK FRIEND Tim Zwicky found this 1000% adorable video of Jesse performing all the household chores for his mistress. If this doesn't lift your spirits, nothing will.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Eye-opening aspirin statistics

“While there are some serious side effects that can't be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement.” — Jack Cuzick, director of Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London and head of Centre for Cancer Prevention, Queen Mary, University of London

MY Grandpa, who was born in 1889 and lived to be 92, believed in taking an aspirin a day as a preventative. Turns out he might have been right. 

The below news article that appeared on the NBC News website has some startling statistics. I bought baby aspirin, and for sure I wish I'd been taking it for the last 10 years!

Study Finds an Aspirin a Day Cuts Cancer Rates

LONDON (Reuters) -- Taking a small daily dose of aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of developing - or dying from - bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancer, according to a large review of scientific studies.

Researchers who analyzed all available evidence from studies and clinical trials assessing benefits and harm found that taking aspirin for 10 years could cut bowel cancer cases by around 35 percent and deaths from the disease by 40 percent.

Rates of oesophageal and stomach cancer were cut by 30 percent and deaths from these cancers by 35 to 50 percent.

Professor Jack Cuzick, head of the center for cancer prevention at Queen Mary University of London, said the evidence showed that, to reap the benefits of aspirin, people need to take a daily dose of 75 to 100 milligrams for at least five years and probably up to 10 years between the ages of 50 and 65.

No benefit was seen while taking aspirin for the first three years and death rates were only reduced after five years, he and his team reported in a review in the Annals of Oncology journal.

"Our study shows that if everyone aged between 50 and 65 started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a 9 percent reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men, and around 7 percent in women,'' Cuzick said in a statement about the research.

But the researchers also warned that taking aspirin long-term increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach: among 60-year-olds who take daily aspirin for 10 years, the risk of digestive tract bleeding increases from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent, and this could be life-threatening in a small proportion of people, they said.

"While there are some serious side effects that can't be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement,'' Cuzick said.

Aspirin, originally developed by the German drugmaker Bayer, is a cheap, over-the-counter drug generally used to combat pain or reduce fever.
The drug reduces the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and can therefore protect against heart attacks and strokes, so it is often prescribed for people who already suffer with heart disease and have already had one or several attacks.

Aspirin also increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach to around one patient in every thousand per year, a factor which has fueled debate over whether doctors should advise patients to take it as regularly as every day.

Cuzick said the risk of bleeding "depends on a number of known factors which people need to be aware of before starting regular aspirin'' and advised people to consult a doctor before embarking on daily medication.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Marnie has lots to say

"Lots of people talk to animals. Not very many listen, though. That's the problem." — Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh 

OOOOPS!! I'm behind on Hey Look posts. 

There's so much going on in the world to think about and write about and try to do something about, but my brain just isn't up to it, so thanks to Paul's Aunt Barb, you get an adorable bird instead.

FYI: Marnie actually has his own website. It explains that Marnie is a Blue Indian Ringneck Parrot, a blue mutation of an Indian Ringneck Parakeet that are normally bright green in the wild. Because of their hooked beaks, long tails and small size, they're classified as a parakeet, but are actually true parrots. 

Whatever he's classified as, I say he's the bomb.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The anti-Sarah Palin

“Day 73 and wait until you hear this.” — Amanda Curtis, Senatorial candidate from Montana

I USED TO live in Montana. US Senate candidate, Amanda Curtis, makes me wish I had dual residency. Of course I realize that I wouldn't be able to vote in both places, but I can dream can't I? 

And Amanda is indeed IMHO a dream candidate. 

Below, I've attached Gail Collin's August 20 New York Times column about Amanda. In reader comments, one man described her as the opposite of Sarah Palin: grounded, well educated, transparent and dedicated. I agree. 

Too bad that she doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning.

Tell It to the Camera
By Gail Collins
August 20, 2014

Amanda Curtis, a 34-year-old high school math teacher, is now the Democrats’ U.S. Senate candidate in Montana. Finally, a strategy for bringing down the average age of a senator, which is around 62.

Plus, a math teacher would come in handy. “Elect somebody who knows how to count” would be an awesome campaign ad. If Curtis had the money to pay for any ads, which currently does not seem all that likely.

“I told my husband: ‘Kevin, I’m really sorry I got us into this,’ ” she recalled in a phone interview. “And he said: ‘Why do you have to be so blanking awesome?’ He’s very supportive.”

I believe I speak for all Americans when I say that we are totally in favor of Kevin Curtis as a senatorial spouse.

It’s doubtful that we’ll be seeing any Curtis in Washington anytime soon. But in a week of so much dreadful news from every corner of the world, let’s take an opportunity to sing a happy chorus to this season’s super-long-shot candidates. Really, where would we be without them? Staring at a ballot full of pre-elected public officials, that’s where.

Montana Democrats have been going through what you might call a rough patch. First, Senator Max Baucus announced that he was not going to run again for his seat. Baucus gave out the news early so he could concentrate on “serving Montana.”

Then President Obama offered him an ambassadorship to China and Baucus flat-out quit.

John Walsh, the Democratic lieutenant governor, was appointed to take his place. Then The Times’s Jonathan Martin reported that Walsh had plagiarized a lot of his final paper as a master’s candidate at the Army War College. The senator of six months announced that he was not going to run for a full term against the wealthy congressman Republicans had nominated, because he wanted to devote all his time to his “fight for Montana.”

None of the well-known Democratic names in the state were interested in taking Walsh’s place. Or the somewhat-known names.

“I was scraping and glazing and puttying my storm windows,” said Curtis, who was chosen last weekend by a party convention. “And the phone rang. It was a reporter saying: ‘John Walsh dropped out and they can’t find any other politician to run.’ The storm windows are still leaning against my house.”

Montana has only sent one woman to Congress: Jeannette Rankin, a suffragist and pacifist who was elected in 1916. She was sworn in the same day that Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Rankin voted no and was decried by a Helena newspaper as “a dupe of the Kaiser, a member of the Hun army in the United States, and a crying schoolgirl.” That was pretty much that. 

Rankin ran again more than two decades later and was elected just before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, giving her the opportunity to cast the only vote against entering World War II. “Montana is 100 percent against you,” her brother wired encouragingly. That was the end of her congressional career. But she held up the torch, and in 1968, at 87, went back to Washington to lead 5,000 demonstrators in a women’s march against the war in Vietnam.

Always happy to have a chance to mention Jeannette Rankin, who teaches us that fighting for a losing cause most definitely does not make you a losing person.

Amanda Curtis grew up in a family rocked by divorce, alcoholism, financial struggles and violence. She fought her way through college and into a teaching career. Her experience with students, she said, taught her that what she thought was a uniquely terrible childhood was actually not all that unusual in Montana. She began to get involved in community groups, and, in 2012, she was elected to the State House of Representatives.

Once in the office, Curtis began posting videos at the end of every day in the Legislature in which she stood in her office or kitchen, sometimes looking perky, sometimes looking exhausted, and talked into the camera. (“Day 73 and wait until you hear this ...”) Her mission was part educational, with heavy emphasis on the workings of the Business and Labor Committee.

On the other hand, it was partly pure venting. “It was so hard to ... not to walk across the floor and punch him,” she said, in a rant that Montana Republicans have already included in a mash-up of video highlights. Their collection does not note that Curtis was talking about a debate over gay rights in which another lawmaker insinuated that homosexuals lacked moral character.

Imagine what it would be like if our senators all came home every night and posted their real thoughts. When they were too tired to self-censor. Maybe we should make that a requirement.