Good evenin'.Tags: open thread (all tags) [...]
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In his newly freed from the firewall New York Times column titled "G.O.P.'s Dirty Tricks Begin" Bob Herbert provides a great summary of the rightwing power grab going on here in California. If you haven't heard, GOP lawyers have submitted an initiative[...]
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Listening to Mattel CEO Robert A. Eckert cry about his problems and the problems his company has inflicted on small children would almost be amusing if the problems were not so serious. While it's nice to see business think about consumers instead of their profits and luxurious compensation plans, the greed factor is why we are here in the first place. China deserves plenty of blame for selling tainted products but let's not kid ourselves and pile on China because the businesses who were purchasing this rubbish should have had quality systems in place and the government could have also shown a little interest in refusing tainted products. Even though this should have been in place - industry regulating itself, for example - it wasn't. Heavens, it might have added a few pennies to the cost.
Mattel has fired several manufacturers and is beginning to inspect toys before, during and after paint applications, Eckert said. He said he plans to visit China soon to check on the inspections. [Note from Chris - how nice that such programs are only now being reviewed.]
One of the agency's commissioners said "we are all to blame" for a system that allowed children to be exposed to lead-tainted toys. That includes "those who stood by and quietly acquiesced while the commission was being reduced to a weakened regulator," said Thomas H. Moore, in the first of two days of hearings before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
Moore thanked lawmakers for rejecting a Bush administration budget proposal that would have required cutting full-time staff by 19 people. He urged Congress to pass legislation that would give the agency better tools to protect consumers from product safety hazards.
No more suicide watch for John David Roy Atchison. not only that, but his boss, appointed by President Bush, has released a statement saying not one word about the crime Mr. Atchison has been charged with. This is a guy who loves to crow about his office's prosecution of sex crimes.
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Tomorrow begins the MySpace/MTV Presidential Candidate Dialogues, which “mark the first time in history that viewers at home and online will be able to interact in real time with the candidates.” More details:
On Thursday, September 27, at 12 p.m. ET, Democratic candidate John Edwards will sit down with MTV News correspondents Gideon Yago and SuChin Pak and WashingtonPost.com political reporter Chris Cillizza on the University of New Hampshire campus to answer questions submitted via MySpaceIM and MTV.com. Questions will also be asked by a live audience comprised of UNH students.
Participants will also be able to rate Edwards’ responses in real time — everything from a simple “I agree/disagree” to the decidedly less traditional “Full of bull” — thanks to the Flektor instant-polling tool. A “popular vote” function will allow viewers to compare their opinions against those of the entire viewing community. Poll results will be available online live during each event and archived for future viewing.
Ten other candidates, both Republican and Democratic, will be participating in the dialogues at later dates.
As discussed here, Jim Webb's bill would have mandated "dwell time" to give our exhausted troops a break. It stood a good chance of passing until Senator Warner did a 180 and withdrew his support. In the end only 6 Senate Republicans showed that they give a damn about the well-being of our fighting men and women.
Senate Republicans blocked a plan on Wednesday to give U.S. troops in Iraq more home leave, defeating a proposal widely seen as the Democrats' best near-term chance to change President George W. Bush's Iraq strategy.
The measure to give troops as much rest time at home as they spent on their most recent tour overseas needed 60 votes to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate; it received just 56 votes, with 44 against.
It had been offered by Sen. Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former Navy secretary. The Democrat said U.S. troops are being "burned out" by repeated redeployments to Iraq, with tours of up to 15 months and less than a year off in between.
I'll be scarce the next couple of days as I try to deal with whatever it is that's causing my pain (maybe kidney stones, but no confirmation until I get an abdominal CT either Thursday or Friday). But I have a bunch of stuff on tap to blog, so I'll quickly spit it out so I can go back to curling up in a ball and wishing I was dead.
Cornyn (R) 53
Noriega (D) 30
Cornyn (R) 52
Watts (D) 28
Convention wisdom says that Cornyn is safe, above the dangerous 50 percent mark. And at this point, he is. The question over the next months will be if Texas Democrats can start hitting Cornyn and get him under the 50 percent mark. Most incumbents with these kinds of numbers usually stay safe. But a people-powered campaign can move mountains as we saw in Montana and Virginia last year.
When the GOP began its takeover bid in Texas, it started by recruiting moderate Democrats to switch parties. This began around 1984. Their argument was spurious at the time -- that the Democratic Party had moved too far to the left. That was always more spin that fact, but nonetheless, the migration of Democratic state representatives to the Republican Party was, sad to say, history shaping.
Now history is on the other foot, so to speak. The GOP HAS become a party of extremists, turning their backs on Texans from all walks of life. Middle class families forced to borrow huge sums of money to pay public college tuition, loans that turned out to be little more than kickback schemes. Hundreds of thousands of children without health care, millions of Texas uninsured or underinsured. Public education long forgotten. The physical infrastucture crumbling, state parks underfunded and public land being given away to privateers.
The Texas House is now 80-70 Republican, six seats away from switching control. It was 88-62 in 2002 after the first round of redistricting.
Oops. My mistake. She's writing about Republicans running around screaming. About an ad. In a newspaper.
The failure of the Petraeus report to significantly alter the political climate on Iraq is bad news for Republicans in the 2008 campaign. The assessment by GOP insiders is that continued casualty lists in the election year will be fatal. President George W. Bush's statement offered little hope for relief.
So why didn't so many Beltway pundits? And why didn't the New York Times?
There were signs on Friday that Mr. Bush's address might have succeeded in shifting some sentiment. The Washington Post's editorial page, which has clung to a middle ground on the war, described Mr. Bush's strategy as "the least bad plan" and one that would be "less risky than the alternatives." Nielsen Media Research reported Friday night that the president's speech drew a combined 28.8 million viewers across nine broadcast networks and cable channels.
You see? The Washington Post's editorial board -- which hasn't clung to a "middle ground" but has cheerleaded the war from Day One -- is like, all the people in country! And while yes, a bunch of people watched Bush's speech, in cable land, where they played the Democratic response, more people watched the response. Then, Bush's poll numbers fell to new lows.
Brilliant insight, NY Times... It's funny how the Beltway Media continues to root for a Bush comeback that no one else in this country is going to let happen.
copyright ? 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Please listen to the audio presentation. Interviews Tell Tales. Jena Six: Black Students Charged w/Attempted Murder
I am thankful, not for the strife, the situation, or the state of affairs in Jena, Louisiana. I am grateful for the discussion, the focus on what for too long remains beneath the surface. For weeks, race relations, a topic conveniently hidden, is in the news again. I think this inconvenient truth must be made visible if we are to move beyond the bigotry that is America's signature.
The Jena Six, a group of young Black students in a small southern town, were severely punished by the Courts for possible participation in a schoolyard brawl. One of many unfair judgments was overturned, and some Americans rejoiced. Others understood the deeper dilemma. Conversations commenced. Protests are planned. All that is good.
However, what is not wonderful and brings me no joy is what I fear, the outcome. Americans seem frozen in time. I believe the plague that permeates American society will survive.
Supremacy sickens me. Preeminence is, for me, the profound issue. While many claim in this nation no one race feels a sense of superiority over the another, there is ample evidence to suggest some do. This story may speak to the situation; it is one of many that occur daily in this country. Any of us whose skin is light may wish to deny it, but ask a Black friend or neighbor, if you have one.
Days ago, after a too long delayed mass media coverage, the narrative immerged again. This time the spotlight fell on the Bayou State. The subject of white rule and the inevitable result, Black rebellion, became more public. The details buried in local news and neighborhoods for close to a year, came to the surface.
Last September, a black high school student requested the school's permission to sit beneath a broad, leafy tree in the hot schoolyard. Until then, only white students sat there.
The next morning, three nooses were hanging from the tree. The black students responded en masse. Justin Purvis, the kid who first sat under the tree, told filmmaker Jacquie Soohen: "They said, 'Y'all want to go stand under the tree?' We said, 'Yeah.' They said, 'If you go, I'll go. If you go, I'll go.' One person went, the next person went, everybody else just went."
Then the police and the district attorney showed up. Substitute teacher Michelle Rogers recounts: "District Attorney Reed Walters proceeded to tell those kids that 'I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen.'"
I believe we must ask ourselves, why in America, or anywhere else on this Earth, might someone feel a need to ask for permission to sit under a tree on public property. I believe that aspect of this narrative alone is, dreadful. When a source of beauty, light, and the symbol for life is designated "For Whites Only," this says more than my heart can bear. I do not solely struggle with the age of the defendant, the criminal charges, the beating or battering of individuals, white or black. For me, the greater concern, the one that causes me to weep is what is often forgotten in news reports.
In this country, citizens are reticent to admit to their own bigotry. White citizens gleefully claim this nation is colorblind. However, if you are Black, step back. If you are Brown, get down. On the ground you go. Pick the crops, or scrub the floors, just do not sit under that tree.
Details differ each time we open our eyes, nonetheless, the saga is the same. Whites want what they want when and how they want it. If Blacks dare to threaten the delicate "balance," even if they ask permission to walk on the path Caucasians occupy, crosses are burned, nooses hung from trees, and the violence unfolds.
People are injured. Some enter prison. No matter the circumstance, whites fare far better than Blacks. On each occasion, when Blacks and whites meet, the question of fairness fills the air. Individuals and families question the fairness of a judicial decision. Slowly, over time, the word spreads; yet, the actual situation is hushed.
As I listen to discussion after discussion I am haunted by the fact that in most reports Journalists, Civil Rights Leaders, historians, literary agents, the little guy or gal on the street, or even the victims themselves dismiss what for me is most daunting. People, Black or White, Yellow or Brown, Red or Green, felt a need to ask for permission to sit under a tree.
It is as though even nature is restricted. "For Whites Only" signs settles into every nuance of life. On September 7, 2007, the story broke throughout the land. I listened to the tale on the radio as I arose that morning. I was grateful. National Public Radio shared the scandalous drama and made mention of what for me was the essence of the yarn.
[T]he black students who sat under the tree had asked the principal's permission to do so.
Yet, if we focus on the symptoms and miss the essence, I believe this scenario will be as similar occurrences in the past, a missed opportunity. The plight of the Jena Six will be over another lesson unlearned.
As the coverage increases, and I read more reports, I am reminded of what we wish to forget. Days turn to night. I watch and listen. Television Journalists clamor. Pundits shout. Social Scientists prophesize. Average people predict. Presidential candidates weigh in. Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, an advisor to the defendants in the Jena Six case speaks. He too is frustrated by what society forgets.
Collins: And our Sean Callebs is joining us now live this morning from Jena, Louisiana.While Harvard Professor Ogletree and Cable News Network Broadcaster Heidi Collins remember the specifics, they too forget what for me is most telling. Why might a young man or woman enrolled in school need to ask for permission to sit under a tree on campus. In a country with a Constitution that decries "All men are created equal," why would any of us feel compelled to request consent to place ourselves in the shade of an olive branch, an oak bough, a maple limb that quietly graces the grounds of our school. Yet, in America, Black students know what Caucasians shutter to confess. People are separate, separated, and treated as though they are not equal.
So, Sean, we saw a little bit of a reaction from people who live in the area. Overall, how do they think this whole process has gone so far?
Callebs: Well, we went to a fair that was held here in Jena over the weekend and we probably tried to talk to 30 people on camera. Only one would speak with us. Many of them unsolicited would actually say to us, you know what, we didn't think that Mychal Bell should have been tried as an adult to begin with, but we're really upset at what they view as outside agitation. Meaning the media coming in, focusing attention on this, and to a big -- in a big way, the civil rights demonstrations planned here.
To show you the kind of press this is getting, this is the local paper. This is the big headline, "Jena prepares to rally." This is this morning. And if you look down here, about three column inches is the O.J. story. So, it really puts the Jena 6 story in perspective in this community. And quickly, a couple of points. We did have a chance to speak with the D.A.'s office and so far the D.A. has not re-filed charges in juvenile court and there's been no movement on a bond hearing for Mychal Bell.
Collins: All right, Sean, we're glad you're there following that one for us out of Jena, Louisiana.
Sean Callebs, thank you.
Want to talk a little bit more about this morning with Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree. He's an advisor to the defendants in the Jena 6 case.
Thanks for being with us, Mr. Ogletree.
We know there's a hearing going on right now, on whether or not the judge in this case should actually recuse himself. Your thoughts on that.
Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School: Well, there are a lot of reasons the judge should recuse himself. And this criminal justice case has been a colossal failure of justice for these young men. The judge has made mistakes in allowing the charges to go forward. Having this man in jail since last year, Mychal Bell. And now the appeals court's involved in it.
So this is a case that was waiting to have some fresh air and publicity. I think now it's very likely this D.A. will try to re- bring these charges. And I hope it means that these other young men will be tried as they should be tried, a schoolyard brawl with a suspension, not federal -- not serious felony charges.
Collins: You do think it's unlikely that D.A. Walters will move forward?
Ogletree: One of the problems that the D.A. in this case has been pointing fingers at these young black men since the schoolyard incidents. We forget there were nooses hung in a tree. We forget an African-American male in that community was hit on the head with a beer bottle. We forget that a gun was drawn on one of these young men.
There's a whole series of failures of the system. And I think the district attorney is being watched nationally. The judge is being watched nationally. Some good lawyers are being brought into the case now. And I hope that these young men will not only avoid criminal charges, but they'll be back in school before this year is out.
Collins: I don't think everybody forgets about the way that this whole case started, certainly with the nooses.
But let me ask you this, your defendant not being tried in an adult court now, possibly as we've said, going to juvenile court system, how will that change things for him?
Ogletree: Well, it will change dramatically. First of all, the lawyer who represented him before did a poor job of challenging the government's evidence. Didn't call any witnesses. Didn't investigate the case. And now, hopefully, a judge, a juvenile court judge, will be able to listen to the evidence dispassionately, hear Mychal Bell's defense and come back with the judgment of not responsible in the juvenile terms. So I think it's going to make a huge difference.
But the most important thing is that he should be released.
There's no reason he should be in jail now having been found not guilty not guilty of some charges, having had some reversed, and facing no charges right now. I think he should be released. And that might change the whole method of this case as well.
Collins: You know, you have to wonder as you watch sort of the process and the way that this story developed, if there was any responsibility that should have been placed on the adults in this case. The adults at the school. People in the community to help sort of diffuse tensions between the kids at the school before it got to this point.
Ogletree: Well, I think Jena never imagined that this case would have the national, international attention it has generated. They never imagined that you'd see civil rights leader, national press coming and watching. And if you look at the school board, which revoked -- reversed the principal's decision to punish those who hung nooses in the tree, if you look at the apathy of the community when these black kids complained about being treated differently, adults played a significant role.
And adults are going to have to cure it.
If they don't think there's a problem of race in Jena, they're not living in the 21st century. And I think hopefully the good news is that black and white families will come together, live together and they'll be a positive result after this case is resolved, hopefully in the next couple of months.
Collins: Yes, we certainly hope so. All right. We'll continue to follow this story as always right here on CNN.
Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School, thanks for your time this morning.
Ogletree: Thank you.
African Americans, Negroes are regarded as inferior. They are wanted only to serve the needs of those that think them selves supreme. We have not progressed much beyond the days of Reconstruction.
As the citizens of Jena prepare for trial and for a protest, Confederate flags fly. Symbols of support for slavery fill the air. Authentic conversation is stifled. We wish to think that there has been a change. Some muse drastic measures have been taken. Today, Americas Black citizens are free. In a democracy, we question justice and work for civil liberties. However, as long as a Black person, man, woman, or child senses he or she must seek approval to sit and enjoy the serenity of a tree, nothing has changed. Nothing will. Circumstances may be different. The dynamics are not. When Black congregate where whites wish to be the principle is fight or flight.
References to Racism, Jena Six . . .
Chief of Staff
Office of the Governor
State of California
Dear Mrs. Kennedy,
I'll admit I wasn't the happiest guy in the world when I heard you had signed up with Gov. Schwarzenegger a couple of years ago. Nearly everything I read about you noted that as a Democrat, liberal, and married-to-another-woman-lesbian you would serve as a kind of moderating influence in the Governor's office. That set off all kinds of alarms for me. Being a Democrat and a liberal was bad enough, but the last thing, the claim that you were a lesbian, suggested that there was something much more sinister going on, because it was obviously a lie--women can't be homosexuals; they don't have little soldiers.
My main concern was that you were claiming to be a lesbian in order to promote tolerance toward homosexuals--hey if a homosexual can serve as a Republican chief of staff, then many people might start thinking about them as being rather normal rather than one of the gravest threats our society faces.
Now, I realize I was very wrong. Obviously, you pretended to be a lesbian in order to make it easier for Gov. Schwarzenegger to persecute homosexuals. Who can condemn him for vetoing a marriage equality bill if his "lesbian" Chief of Staff (a supposedly "married" lesbian none the less) doesn't have a problem with it. Obviously, marrying the person you love isn't a s much a basic human right as some people think it is--at least you don't think so, and i don't believe anyone could be so self-hating as to actively take measures to lock up their love in a ghetto.
It was a masterful bit of planning on your part. It's too bad Bull Connor didn't have a phony negro serving as his chief deputy when his department was beating the hell out of blacks who wanted to register to vote. Jim Crow might still be ruling the South today.
Thanks again for proving me wrong.
Gen. JC Christian, patriot
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