Monday, May 04, 2015

Andrew Halcro decides he cannot keep quiet any longer, endorses Ethan Berkowitz for Mayor of Anchorage.

Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch:  

Former Anchorage mayoral candidate Andrew Halcro has offered a last-second endorsement of Ethan Berkowitz, one of the two candidates in Tuesday’s runoff election. 

Halcro, a centrist Republican who used to lead the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, placed third in the initial round of balloting last month, behind Berkowitz, a Democrat, and Republican Amy Demboski, the other candidate in Tuesday’s runoff. 

The top two finishers stand in the runoff if neither reached 45 percent of the vote in the first round. The election is officially non-partisan, but both Demboski and Berkowitz have received partisan backing. 

Halcro, who got 21.5 percent of the vote last month, initially said he would not endorse either Berkowitz or Demboski. But in a Facebook post late Sunday, Halcro encouraged his supporters to vote for Berkowitz, saying he was worried about Demboski’s honesty, integrity, and maturity, “and her decision to allow the most extreme elements of the Republican Party to lead her campaign.”

Halcro said that the catalyst for him was Demboski's ugly attacks against Berkowitz: 

“After the last week, it was like, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t bite my tongue any more,’” Halcro said. “To watch this campaign degrade over the last two weeks into this personal attack at Ethan was just way too much.” 

"At any point in time, Amy could have stopped this," Halcro added.

There are a lot of reasons to disagree with Halcro politically, but he is clearly a man of integrity.

Remember if you are a resident of Anchorage, it is imperative that you get out and vote tomorrow. 

Because trust me, Jerry Prevo is going to have his followers bussed to the polls in support of Demboski if need be.

The National Enquirer finds something special that Dakota Meyer and his fiancee Bristol Palin have in in common. Brawling.

Courtesy of the National Enquirer: 

Bristol Palin and her fiancĂ© have more in common than just political views – both Bristol and Marine Corps vet Dakota Meyer seem to have a penchant for getting into drunken brawls! 

While Bristol, 24, reportedly punched a man after she was asked to leave a party, Medal of Honor winner Dakota, 26, allegedly walloped a girl! 

The National ENQUIRER has obtained photos of the aftermath of a Dec. 2012 melee that left Dakota with a gash to the head, and another male, Kanissa’a Thompson, arrested for assault. 

According to Kanissa’a, Dakota was the aggressor, and he hit Kanissa’a’s sister, who was tussling with the girlfriend of Dakota’s brother! Kanissa’a also said he saw Dakota “punch” his sister. 

In an exclusive interview he told The ENQUIRER: “This girl got into a fight with one of our friends, and Dakota was trying to break it up. He was drunk, and he punched her. 

“Dakota turned around and punched [my sister]. She knocked him out.

Of course here at IM this is not news, but I just have to LOL at the idea that right when Sarah starts pimping this wedding and working the publicity angle that there will be this meme out there of the brawling bride from Wasilla, and her glass jawed Medal of Honor winning groom.

I have little doubt that those facts will provide plenty of fodder for late night comedians if they even bother to comment on these D-list celebrities at this point.

Anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller holds a "Draw Mohammad" contest and surprise, surprise, there's a shooting. Update!

Courtesy of The Guardian: 

Two gunmen have been killed and a security guard injured during what appears to be an attack on a contest for cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad in a Dallas suburb. 

The gunmen drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland shortly before 7pm on Sunday where the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) were hosting the exhibition and contest. 

According to city authorities an unarmed guard at the event was shot at before the men were engaged and killed by police. 

Authorities immediately locked down the center, evacuating the 200 participants at the event and sealing off large areas including a nearby shopping mall. 

A bomb squad was called in after reports of a possible incendiary device at the scene of the incident. Police said a “bomb container trailer” had also been deployed in which to place any suspect device. 

A police spokesman said two males had been killed and their bodies were still lying outside their car hours later.

There is still an ongoing investigation and I am sure more information will be available later. 

However what we do know is that this incident could not have worked out better for event organizer Pamela Geller.

This from Raw Story: 

“The idea we are going to bridge our freedom, our most basic inalienable right, in order to not offend savages is egregious,” Geller said. “It is outrageous. This is a war and the war is here.” 

“There’s an enemy among us,” she said. “They need to crush our freedoms, our emotions — basic freedoms. They handled this situation brilliantly.” 

Geller said about 300 attendees sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” as they were evacuated to a safe room after a suspicious backpack was found. 

“They understand the fight,” she said. “We need to stand up for freedom of speech. The idea that a cartoon, a funny cartoon – by the way, we had held the contest – the Muhammad contest. It was won by a former Muslim, that that cartoon would compel devout followers to slaughter is outrageous. It is unspeakable. It is monstrous.” 

Geller disagreed that she or her organization are controversial. “A free speech conference is not controversial,” she said. 

“Shooting people is controversial. There is a moral inversion. There’s a problem here. The American people need to stand up for the basic founding principle. The principle — it’s offensive speech, it’s the First Amendment. It’s not the Eighth or Tenth, it’s the First Amendment. Who will decide who is good or what is forbidden? The Islamic State? Muslim groups?”

Actually Geller and her group are incredibly controversial, and it could be argued that they purposefully antagonize the Muslim community in the hopes of having incidents like this occur.

Courtesy of the New York Daily News: 

She calls herself an advocate for those who have been victimized by religious extremists, but critics say that Pamela Geller and her controversial anti-Islamic groups are as hateful and extreme as those she seeks to condemn. 

And this courtesy of SPLC:

Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She's relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the "love child" of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

Though many have now forgotten Geller and her shadowy groups were also behind the creation of the poorly made film "Innocence of Muslims" that was either the cause, or the excuse, for the killings at Benghazi which the conservatives have been trying to blame on President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Yeah Geller is certainly a nasty piece of work.

However that is no excuse for what happened here.

Killing people for disrespecting your religion, or for daring to draw a caricature of your prophet, does nothing but demonstrate an underlying insecurity ingrained within your belief system and a defensiveness that only serves to make your entire religion seem crazy.

And yes, I know all too well that hundreds of years ago Christianity was even more aggressive toward its detractors and that the rivers ran red with the blood of atheists, intellectuals, and those embracing other religions.

Update: You knew it was coming, Rush Limbaugh blames the  shooting on President Obama.

Two more passengers have jumped into the GOP Presidential clown car.

Yesterday we learned that Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have decided to throw their hats into the 2016 ring.

Courtesy of USA Today:  

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson told a Florida television station on Sunday that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. 

"I'm willing to be part of the equation and, therefore, I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States of America," Carson said in an interview with CBS affiliate WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Courtesy of CNN:  

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced her candidacy for president on Monday, becoming the first declared female candidate to seek the Republican Party's nomination. 

"Yes, I am running," Fiorina said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "I think I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world; who's in it." 

The ex-Silicon Valley executive and long-shot White House contender has never held public office. In 2010, she unsuccessfully ran for Senate in California, losing to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

In my opinion, and this is really saying something in a field that includes Ted Cruz, I think these are the two most pathetic GOP candidates so far.

The reason I say that is because I believe that the ONLY reason the Republicans want these two to run, and believe me they have no intention of letting them win, is race and gender.

Believe it or not conservatives see Carson as their version of Barack Obama, a smart black man.

And they see Fiorina as their answer to Hillary Clinton, a person with female plumbing. (Just like Sarah Palin was their answer to Hillary back in 2008.)

So essentially these two are camouflage and are being poorly used to cover for the conservative's innate racism and misogyny.

And the fact that they, on some level, realize this and are still willing to play their parts is, like I said, pathetic.

Much like America itself, soon Atheism will no longer be over populated with old white guys.

Courtesy of The Guardian:  

When you think of atheists, the face that probably comes to mind is male, white, older and a little bit nerdy. There’s more than a grain of truth to this reputation. Atheist groups in America have traditionally been dominated by older white men – but that may finally be starting to change. 

The Barna Group, a Christian polling firm, recently released their 2015 State of Atheism in America report. Based on a year of research on the non-religious demographic, Barna found not just that atheists and agnostics’ numbers are growing rapidly, but that they’re very quickly becoming more diverse. 

The most important finding in Barna’s report is that women are joining the atheist community by the millions. In 1993, just 16% of nonbelievers were women, but in 2013, that number was 43% - representing a nearly threefold leap. And this shift isn’t because men are leaving the community, which would bring the gender balance closer to parity. Barna found that the absolute numbers of both male and female atheists have increased in the last twenty years, but the number of women has grown far faster. 

The atheist community is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse as well. In 1993, people of color made up just 20% of nonbelievers. The change in these numbers hasn’t been as dramatic, but there’s been change nonetheless, with the number rising to 26% in 2013. Many of these religious skeptics have come from the Hispanic and, especially, Asian communities.

Well this is one older white guy who is really looking forward to more diversity within the Atheist community. 

I personally am of the mind that the growth in the Atheist community has much less to do with people suddenly deciding they are not religious, and much more to do with people feeling comfortable in coming out as Atheists or Agnostics.

That's why it is critical to continue having the conversation, and opening it up to as many people as possible.

My personally held belief, and yes I understand the irony of using that term, is that the majority of the people on this planet are actually atheist but are just too intimidated to admit it. Even to themselves.

In the next decade or so we will see if I am correct as the label shakes off it's negative connotations and becomes more and more accepted by the public at large.

Baltimore police pepper spray and handcuff man for standing on street wearing a "Fuck the Police" t-shirt.

Courtesy of Raw Story: 

In dramatic footage captured by the Associated Press, an unidentified Baltimore protester wearing a “F*ck the police” t-shirt is pepper sprayed before being dragged to the ground by his hair. 

As the man stands impassively in the street with his arms at his side, an officer walks up to him and, without provocation, sprays his face with pepper spray. As the man attempts to shake it off, not even reaching upwards to his face, the officer then grabs him by his hair and flings him to the ground as fellow officers swarm all over him. 

After being dragged to the sidewalk another officer pours water on his face as he lays moaning on the ground, his hands bound behind him.

Now I will probably get some blow back for saying this but I think it is clear that the man brought all of that on himself.  

I have watched the video a couple of times to be sure, but in my mind there is no denying that this man was standing in the street while being black.

You can argue with me all you want, but I know what I saw. The man is clearly being totally black right in front of the police officers.

At the end of the day really what choice did they have?

You know I have always thought this was true.

Let's face it the differences between Sharia law and the fundamentalist Christian point of view are virtually non-existent.

And though the Fundies will not say this out loud the way that Islamic countries control their women and punish non-believers give them a righteous woody.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Posted without comment.

Courtesy of Dakota Meyer's Instagram account:  

dakotameyer0317 Trying to get to the gold at the end of the rainbow so we could buy @bsmp2 something for being the amazing woman that she is. #hestheman #shesthebest #20days #family #neveroutgunned #america #kentucky 

There is actually a lot to say here, but I will leave it up to you fine folks to say it.

Sarah Palin is very upset that some are suggesting that racist Planned Parenthood founder replace totally non-racist President Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. Wait......
Click ignorant countenance to hear ignorant remarks
Oh well I was a little nauseous this morning anyhow, so let's listen in shall we?

"In the early 20th century the progressive movement was caught up in a racist pseudo science called Eugenics. (There is no evidence to suggest that Eugenics was a progressive movement. In fact during its heyday it was widely accepted all over the world.) The core idea of Eugenics was to use birth control, abortion, and selective breeding to weed out the so-called "unfit." To create a, quote unquote, 'cleaner human race.' The idea of course is horrifying. And it was this very drive to create a 'cleaner,' or purer race, that led ultimately to the Nazi Holocaust. One of the foremost American leaders of this horrid Eugenics movement was a gal named Margaret Sanger.  (Yeah as it turns out she was NOT one of the "foremost American leaders.") You may have heard her name because she went on to found Planned parenthood. This is the foundation of Planned Parenthood. The nation's largest abortion provider. Margaret Sanger? She specifically wrote about her belief in using abortion to reduce the numbers of minorities, and immigrants, in order to create, what she thought of, as a 'cleaner,' or rather a 'whiter' race. (No that's false, in fact Sanger was vehemently against abortion and argued that use of birth control, which she recommended for all races, would make it increasingly unnecessary.) She was essentially a racist, white supremest, in her theories and in her writings. Look it up. ( I did!) But instead of rejecting Margaret Sanger, and her hateful ideas about race, well Left Wing progressives actually revere her. (Tape of Hillary Clinton saying she admires Margaret Sanger.) She's a heroine in their eyes. They love her. In fact one feminist wrote in the New York Times that 'Margaret Sanger should replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill.' Well this must never happen, We should never admire someone whose life's work was built on racism. And bigotry. That says a lot about those who support Margaret Sanger, and her beliefs, and this new drive to replace Jackson on the twenty dollar bill with this racist."

As it turns out this attack of racism against Margaret Sanger is a very aggressive meme started by the anti-choice crowd and it has spread like wildfire. So of course Palin has to sprint after that bandwagon and hp aboard.

But is it true?

PBS has reported that while Sanger DID align herself with Eugenics in 1920's and 30's, it does not seem that she was focused on preventing the birth of more minorities, but instead on restricting the birth of what she termed "defectives." Most likely referring to birth defects.

Another researcher and educator at The Daily Kos found the evidence to support Sanger's racism to be paper thin.

A little Googling makes it pretty clear that Palin's argument, like all of her arguments, is based on misinformation, lies, and the cherry picking of actual facts.

As for not admiring someone "whose life's work was built on racism" that more or less describes a certain President we all know.

Courtesy of Slate: 

It was unfathomable that thousands of Native American men, women, and children were forced to march West, sometimes freezing to death or starving because U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let them bring extra food or blankets. It was hard to hear that the Choctaw Nation lost up to a third of its population on the death march. It was disorienting to learn that what amounted to ethnic cleansing had come at the insistence of an American president. 

But then it was lunchtime, and we pulled out our wallets in the cafeteria. Andrew Jackson was there, staring out from every $20 bill. We had been carrying around portraits of a mass murderer all along, and had no idea. 

Andrew Jackson engineered a genocide. He shouldn’t be on our currency.

You know I have a very simple formula for determining who actually is, or is not, a racist. 

If Sarah Palin supports them, then they're probably a racist.

If she attacks them.....well you can do the math.

(H/T to Wonkette.)

With the Citizens United decisions having blurred campaign finance law the FEC Chairwoman is essentially throwing in the towel.

Courtesy of the AP: 

The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission says she's largely given up hope of reining in abuses in raising and spending money in the 2016 presidential campaign and calls the agency she oversees "worse than dysfunctional." 

In an interview with The New York Times, Ann M. Ravel says she was determined to "bridge the partisan gap" and see that the agency confronted its problems when she became its chair last December. She said she had now essentially abandoned efforts to work out agreements on what she saw as much-needed enforcement measures. 

Instead, Ravel said she plans on concentrating on getting information out publicly, rather than continuing what she sees as a futile attempt to take action against major violations, the Times reported in a story posted to its website Saturday night. She said she was resigned to the fact that "there is not going to be any real enforcement" in the coming election, the newspaper reported. 

"The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim," said Ravel, a Democrat. "I never want to give up, but I'm not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It's worse than dysfunctional."

I can't say I'm surprised by this in the least, and in fact I assumed that the 2016 campaign season would be a free for all. 

However it is painfully clear that having billionaires buying candidates like children choosing puppies from a pet store is destroying our democracy, and something obviously has to be done to change things.

My daughter and I actually got into an argument over this the other day, with her angrily complaining that the Boomers broke the election system, and need to fix it. And with me agreeing with her, but pointing out that since it currently benefits the Republicans that there is no political will to do so.

At this point I am not sure what it will take for the two parties to come together to create a newer, more comprehensive, version of the old McCain-Feingold Act that would have the tools needed to rein in the outright purchasing of candidates, and the multi-millions of dollars being spent by corporations to decide the outcome of elections.

A commentary from the Toronto Star gives reasons why Sarah Palin should run for President. Oh this ought to be good.

First off this Bob Hepburn points out that Palin still has some rabid supporters who are always begging her to run: 

Every day Bonny Gray prays she will soon turn on her TV and see that Sarah Palin has entered the U.S. presidential race. 

“I am a believer in prayers being answered and I pray every night for you to be our next president,” Gray wrote two weeks ago in a Facebook post. “You against Hillary would be a sure victory for you.


Take Kristine Weaver Bryant, who like Gray is pleading with Palin to jump into the race. “If you don’t run, our country is ruined,” Bryant wrote in another Facebook post. “Please Sarah, it is time for a female president. Don’t let it be Hillary. We beg you!”

Well you know, Bob, crazy people want all kinds of things they will never get. 

I once heard a person with schizophrenia begging Jesus to take him to Disney World.

Guess who didn't get to go?

Hepburn then goes to the polls: 

A poll conducted for CBS News in January suggested 30 per cent of Republicans would like her to run, although 59 per cent disagreed. Only former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who isn’t running, scored higher.

So almost 60% of Republicans don't want her to run, and this guy STILL thinks she should give it a shot?

But wait, he has more: 

Still, there are many reasons why Palin should enter the Republican race, starting with the fact that she would bring fun and excitement to what now is a dull contest filled by white males with no charisma. 

Palin, whose ego knows few bounds, could actually be a strong contender if she finally started to listen to her smart, well-paid political advisers, stuck to written texts and avoided those embarrassing off-hand remarks that have tripped her up in the past. 

She has a strong base, especially among religious Republicans, and that base still believes in her. She has 4.4 million “likes” on Facebook and more than 1 million Twitter followers. She can easily raise the millions of dollars needed to run a serious campaign.

Okay, let's take these one at a time, shall we?

First off, I think Bob is mistaking barely contained lunacy for "charisma."

Second, most of Palin's well paid advisers are actually shadowy organizations that help her to laundry money, and those that actually DO advise are terrible at their job.

And thirdly, most of those Facebook and Twitter "likes" are bought and paid for with SarahPAC money, which by the way is drying up faster than water in California.

What else ya got, Bob?

And while I disagree with almost everything Palin and the Tea Party stand for, their voices do deserve to be heard.

No, Bob, no, they don't. 

In fact, allowing the rabid Right Wing fringe to have a voice is how we ended up with a Greg Abbott as governor of Texas, a Ted Cruz as a Senator from Texas, and let's face it, it's how we ended up with a Texas.

Do you want another Texas, Bob?

No, Sarah Palin is yesterday's news. In fact, it's yesterday's news that the parakeet has already pooped on, and has been rolled up and used to beat the dog for humping our legs.

Having a handful of crazy people believe something is no reason for rational people to think it's viable.

If that were true we too would start seeing Elvis at the local Quicky Mart and start telling tales of being anally probed by aliens.

Paranoia pimping politician Ted Cruz, questions Pentagon about military exercises in response to internet driven fears of martial law.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:  

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Saturday that he'd been hearing concerns about Jade Helm 15, a domestic military training exercise that has become a fount of conspiracy theories, and that he wanted questions about it to be answered. 

"My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise," Cruz, a Texas senator, told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention. "We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don't trust what it is saying." 

The paranoia about Jade Helm, which started on websites like Alex Jones's InfoWars, had started with familiar fulmination about a mass seizure of firearms or a cover-up for American "death squads." This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott channeled the concerns of voters in the Southwest, asking the Texas state guard to monitor the exercise for any violations of freedom. "It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed," said the governor.

We mocked Governor Abbott last week for his response to the conspiracy theory crowd, but who among us is really surprised that Cruz so readily boarded this bandwagon?

After all without unsubstantiated fear and paranoia Cruz would never have been elected in the first place.

Once again Texas is pulling ahead in the "we're the most batshit crazy state in the country" sweepstakes.

What the future could hold for America if the religious Right Wing get their way.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:

A 10-year-old pregnant with her stepfather’s child will not be allowed to get an abortion because the government of Paraguay doesn’t believe that her life in immediate danger. 

On April 23, the unnamed girl was reportedly checked into the hospital by her mother. She complained of stomach pains and tests showed she was already 21-weeks pregnant. Earlier this week, her mother apparently requested her daughter be given an abortion, and when it was revealed that her stepfather impregnated her, the mother was taken into custody. 

Doctors requested permission to perform the procedure. In Paraguay, abortions can’t be performed in the case of rape or incest, and only if the government decides that a life is in danger. In this case they decided it wasn’t.

So not only did this innocent child suffer the trauma of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, but now she is expected to carry his baby to term. Which for a ten year old child is a prospect fraught with danger. 

For those who do not think this can happen in America, you are right.

For now.

But if the religious conservatives get what they ultimately want, incidents like this will start to take place right here in the US of A.

As a matter of fact if Mike Huckabee were to be elected, we could be dealing with this as early as 2017.

This courtesy of a New York Times article from 1996: 

Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas today refused to authorize a Medicaid payment for an abortion for a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest, despite a Federal judge's order that such payments were required by Federal law.

Frightening isn't it?

And it is not only abortion that the Religious Right wants to do away with. It's also access to birth control.

From a book by Robert Boston called "Taking Liberties": 

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church lobbied to restrict access to all contraceptive devices and medications. Many Protestant leaders did as well. Most Protestant denominations would later drop their opposition to birth control. The Catholic hierarchy never did. 

It’s important to understand that church officials sought to ban birth control even for married couples and non-Catholics and that this continued until the 1960s. In addition, the laws that church officials pushed to pass didn’t just outlaw birth control, they also forbade information about birth control. Well into the twentieth century, in some states, a married couple could ask a doctor for advice about how best to limit the size of their family and be told that he could not legally distribute such information. Laws like this were common throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century in New England states, which had a strong Catholic tradition.

Today these anti-contraception ideas have spread from the Catholic church and metastasized within the Evangelical community as well. 

They don't often publicize with the same ferocity with which they oppose abortion, but the Hobby Lobby case opened a preview into what they are ultimately fighting to attain.

Total control over a woman's reproductive system, which they see as a birthing center for God with which no man, or woman, has the right to interfere.

So do I need to remind you again why it is of the utmost importance to make sure to elect a President who will choose Supreme Court Justices that are pro-choice?

I didn't think so.

Perfect description.

And it still works the same today.