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    I know there’s a regular column at KOS about tragic fools playing with guns — but this one left me so speechless I had to share and I had to pose a question about how stories like this affect our feelings. 

    In this one idiot and girlfriend were taking selfies with a pistol that was repeatedly unloaded and reloaded during the day and eventually idiot shot himself in face with “unloaded” gun and then idiot died. (And apparently they were both sober.)

    I know that whenever someone dies unnecessarily and well before his or her time — it is a tragedy.  This is somebody’s brother, somebody’s son and — in this case — somebody’s boyfriend.  Girlfriend — who was right there — will never be the same, and probably never be whole again.

    It should be sad —  but when I read about a death like this that was caused by a voluntary immersion into the peculiar American culture of gun worship… an immersion so deep that its participants think that basic gun safety rules don’t apply to them (never point unless you intend to shoot; always treat every weapon as if it is loaded)... 

    Here’s the point of this diary — when I read about a death like this I find it difficult to feel sad, and then I ask myself “What is the matter with me… someone just died!” 

    It’s hard for me to ignore my instant reaction — which is something like “YOU went there, moron, that’s what happens in a gun culture, and — as someone who was taking selfies with your gun — obviously you were a big fan of gun culture. You gun worshippers are responsible for a situation that kills hundreds of Americans every week. ” 

    Here’s my question — does anyone else struggle with this… react to shootings like this with instincts that leave you feeling “I should be better than this...” 


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    Barack Obama wasn’t the only notable person addressing  graduating students at the Howard University commencement Saturday morning.  He was preceded by award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, and clips of Tyson’s comments were broadcast on MSNBC’s Saturday show.

    It looks like the the expert panel on MSNBC (led by Joy Reid) totally missed Tyson’s reference to her career-highlight, iconic performance as Miss Jane Pittman when Tyson slipped into character while speaking at Howard.

    Tysen played Pittman (a fictional character) in a powerful 1974 TV movie. Most of the movie was flashbacks narrated from a 1960’s front porch by a 110-year old Pittman.  The character was born a slave and emancipated as a young woman.  

    Tyson — who was about 50 years old at the time — played the adult Pittman in flashbacks over the decades (with the help of Emmy-award winning makeup). 

    The broadcast was groundbreaking for its time, and is still a powerful history lesson and a powerful story about perseverance and heartbreak and the human spirit. 

    The movie’s flashbacks were narrated by the 1962 Pittman, and Tyson created a distinctive talking voice that fit a 110 year old woman who had spent her life in rural Louisiana.  

    While speaking to the Howard students today Tyson told the audience she wanted to offer some advice from “an old friend who is always close by”— at which point she shifted into the very characteristic stage voice of the 110-year old Jane Pittman — exactly as she had done when performing this role in the film. 

    In the movie the aging Miss Jane spoke slowly, haltingly and in a thick southern rural drawl. Just as Tyson switched to this “in character” Jane Pittman voice at Howard today MSNBC quickly cut away.  The show narrator seemed a bit flustered.  

    MSNBC did not offer a word of context to explain that Tyson was actually channelling Miss Jane Pittman — something a lot of younger viewers might not know, but something that THIS panel and THIS narrator should well have known.

    My take on what turned into an awkward MSNBC moment was that the Jane Pittman reference went entirely over the head of the panel and of the producers whispering in their ear. I think they thought that Cicely Tyson — who is now 92 years old — was having a “senior’s moment” up there on the Howard stage.  

    Instead of sticking with the video feed from Howard to hear what kind of wisdom the fictional Miss Jane had to share with the Howard students, MSNBC was — mistakenly — embarrassed for Tyson, and decided to cut her off mid-sentence.

    I may have misread the moment (and it was just a moment) — but if I didn’t, then it’s a pity.

    The silver lining — This is an excuse to encourage everyone who hasn’t seen this film to track down and watch it and show it to your kids or your grandchildren.  It’s available on dvd from Amazon, and if you have access to a teenager, I’m sure they can find some way to download it or stream it (although I would recommend watching on a larger screen).  

    The film stands the test of time — there’s good reason it won seven Emmies and was nominated for four more.  Pittman herself won two Emmies — including a special award as Actress of the Year.

    sunday, May 8, 2016 · 8:24:44 AM +00:00·integrate

    UPDATE

    Cicely Tyson’s full remarks at Howard web site.  

    Nothing in her remarks that would have triggered “corporate censors” at MSNBC (for those inclined to conspiracy theories).  This was simply clueless producers and clueless panelists who did not recognize the cultural reference when Tyson slipped into character.  

    Cicely Tyson starts around 2:02:00 in video: www.whur.com/...


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    Just askin’, Anthony Senecal.


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    XM and Sirius is available in Canada from an affiliate of the American parent.  The Canadian affiliate is partially owned by investors who are not involved in the American parent.  

    The same satellite infrastructure is used by both operations, and subscribers in one country can receive signals across North America and the Bahamas.  The channel lineup has slight differences — for example, the Canadian operation delivers a lot of French-language programming. (French is one of two official languages in Canada.)  However — Most of the American programming also appears in the Canadian channel lineup (I listen to MSNBC all the time).

    Both the American and Canadian operations provide satellite signals to receivers in cars, homes and boats; to apps; and through a paywall-protected web player.

    Sirius-XM has three long-standing in-house American political channels. One caters to the left (SiriusXM Progress) and features talkers like Thom Hartmann.  Another caters to the right (Patriot Radio) and features talkers like Hannity.  A third “balanced” channel is called SIRIUSXM POTUS — with POTUS an acronym for Politics of the United States.

    Recently SiriusXM Canada made a lineup change and removed the lefty channel from satellite broadcast.  Now it is only available on the web — and not available to commuters, to truckers or to people who spend long hours working on the water (tugs, coastal freighters, inshore commercial fishboats).

    The thing that makes no sense is that they continue to broadcast the right-wing channel.  Yes to Hannity, not to Hartmann.

    This in a country (Canada) where even the conservatives think Donald Trump is crazy and even the right-wing political parties vow to protect universal, no-co-pay government-managed health insurance.

    There is NO significant audience appetite in Canada for the content on the right-wing political channel SiriusXM kept on the air. A recent poll shows that fully 80% of Canadians would vote Democrat against Trump if they were entitled to do so. (  www.thestar.com/... )

    So — if the decision to leave the right-wing political channel on the air in Canada and relegate the lefties to “internet-only” access is not based on Canadian audiences, what is the basis for reducing access to the Progressive channel.

    My guess — given XM’s decision to name the right-wing channel Patriot (as if the lefties aren’t) — is that the changes in Canada are a dry run for a plan to deprive American progressives with an important voice in the home stretch before the American election (while leaving the right-wing voice intact).

    I am speculating — but SiriusXM in Canada has left us no choice other than speculation when they offer no coherent explanation for what appears to be an arbitrary decision to leave the right-wing talkers on-air while pulling off the progressives.

    If you have a subscription, I urge you log online and tell SiriusXM they better not even think about changing the balance in the final months before the American election. They have already created a precedent for doing so at their junior-partner satellite service in Canada


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    New reports in several media outlets  say ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a U.S. bombing raid.  

       www.dailymail.co.uk/...

    If this is confirmed we have a situation where a day after Trump hints that Obama is a secret ISIS-sympathiser the air force under the direction of Commander-in-Chief Obama takes out the leader of ISIS.  (Preceded, of course, by war-president Obama taking out bin Laden.)

    If ai-Baghdadi is indeed dead, the Democrats should put a magnifying glass on this and use the distance between Trump’s ignorant innuendo and the reality of a the world’s most menacing terrorist leader killed the very next day by the “weak” president to hammer the point that “Trump is trying to con you, folks… he’s trying to play you by saying things that are ridiculously untrue.”


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    The trump campaign is now trying to excuse Don Junior’s casual reference to “warming up the gas chambers” as a reference to execution, not to the Holocaust.  I have never heard “gas chambers” used in the plural except when discussing or describing the Holocaust,

    gas chamber = criminal execution

    gas chambers = holocaust

    Sad!

    Another sad, disgusting Trump lie!


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    The New York Times has a fascinating article which follows a false-news Tweet by an idiot with 40 Twitter followers that became nationwide false news which — 24 hours later — was echoed in a Tweet from Donald Trump.

    The Times  follows the original Tweet step-by-step as it moves through the social-media ecosystem, picking up momentum, and framed with more credibility and larger audiences at each step.

    There are many aspects of this story that are infuriating — but none more than Eric Tucker, (the moron who started all this) could have phoned the bus company and checked his assumptions before pressing SEND.

    When asked about this Tucker’s response was ““I’m also a very busy businessman and I don’t have time to fact-check everything that I put out there...”

    Well — if he had time to take three separate photos of busses, assemble them into a single graphic, and write/send his Tweet — he can’t really be a “very busy businessman.”

    The times says Mr. Tucker is a partner in a marketing company. I wonder if he is this sloppy with the facts when he provides marketing services and advice to his clients.

    Message to Mr. Tucker:

       If you haven’t checked the facts,

       Shut.

       The.

       Fuck.

       Up,

       A-hole!


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    During the election campaign stadiums full of Trump supporters cheered loudly when Trump promised to ban Muslims from America and held forth on how there was something about Islam that caused its followers to hate America.

    If the Trump campaign had not already assigned the “lock her up” meme to Hillary Clinton, we would have heard the Trump mobs chanting “Lock them up! Lock them up!” every time he mentioned the Muslim faith.

    His coalition included millions of Americans who are suspicious of Islam — including large numbers who believe Islam is evil; Islam is not a religion protected by the constitution; Muslims should be banned from the USA; and American Mosques should be shuttered.

    So what do these followers make of Trump’s Saudi speech where he repeatedly praised Islam, cited Muslims as critical allies in the war on terror and referred to Saudi Arabia as “sacred land.”

    Will his followers’ heads explode?  Will they feel betrayed? Or will they once again defend his cynical hypocrisy by saying "He's lying to the Muslim leaders to trick them, but in his heart he still agrees with us that Muslims can't be trusted and all of them want to impose Sharia law on Americans"?

    Is Trump undermining this slice of his coalition in a deliberate attempt to impress more middle-of-the-road Americans, or has he just cluelessly thrown a large slice of his base under the bus in order to earn flattery from a roomful of Arab billionaires?


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    Any politician judges his or her words by balancing the support they expect to gain against possible negative backlash — and generally takes a stand if they believe the net impact will add to their political capital rather than deplete it.

    Some politicians think these things through very carefully [candidate Hillary], others weigh them instinctively [Trump].  Many times the pundits (and the Democrats) second-guessed Trump’s political judgement, and they were wrong… he did manage to win the electoral college (with a little help from Vlad & Company).  To the despairing consternation of Kos readers everywhere, Trump’s political instincts work in his favor all too often.

    The question of the hour is this: are his instincts failing him with his severe and nasty criticism of “taking the knee” protests at sports games. He’s got Trump-donor NFL owners telling him to piss off,; he’s got white right-wing sports heroes like Terry Bradshaw on Fox Sports telling him he’s anti-freedom; and his surrogates on the Sunday shows are being called fascists to their face.


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    MSNBC reporter/Anchor Craig Melvin is a lovely human being — no sarcasm — but he has no business reporting hard news on life-and-death issues.  He goes along to get along, and that’s not the kind of “journalism” needed when public figures deliver b.s. to his face.

    Today he was in Las Vegas interviewing Andy Card — George Bush’s former Chief of Staff.  Card actually said that he could not see how any kind of gun safety law could have possibly have prevented the massacre at Mandalay Bay.  He then implied that the only kind of gun safety proposal on the table was background checks.

    Melvin let Card get away with this.  He did not challenge him and ask:

    • what about a law that registered military-style assault weapons — which would have thrown up a flag when it became clear that one man was stockpiling this kind of weaponry.
    • what about a law that made it illegal to sell or possess “conversion kits” that turn semi-automatic assault weapons into machine guns
    • what about a law that said if collectors and hobbyists wanted to own assault rifles, those rifles had to be stored under lock ant a gun-club target range — with severe individual penalties for any clubs that transgressed?

    Other industrial countries outlaw this kind of weapon, and other countries do not have this kind of slaughter. In spite of that, Melvin let Card get away unchallenged with the bullsh*t NRA talking point that regulating military assault weapons is ineffective and useless.

    I have nothing against Craig Melvin. I wish him well.  He seems like a very nice person.  But interviews like this should be handled by hard-edged journalists like Katy Tur, Rachael Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Joy Reid, Ali Velshi or Stephanie Rhule (to name a few… there are dozens) — and Craig Melvin should be reassigned to covering solar eclipses and the Kardashians, because he has no instincts for speaking uncomfortable truths to power.


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    RW critics have been somewhat successful deflecting the kneeling from its original target — deadly encounters racist police and dead black Americans — and established the false narrative that kneeling is an insult to the flag, American troops and America itself.

    For two years Trump has created a loyal base by promising to make America “great again.”  Implied in this message is that America has room for improvement — which is exactly the underlying belief of every football player who “takes a knee.”

    Here’s my suggestion: every single player who takes a knee should do so while wearing a red baseball cap with a stitched message that says simply “LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREATER”

    The can turn the Trump slogan back on their critics —“We agree with the President — and challenge today’s America to become a better, greater America.  We agree with the Presiden — we love America, but we all know there’s room for improvement.”


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    In nature a pride of lions is dominated by a small coalition of alpha males.  The alphas literally fight their way to the top — sometimes by deposing ageing incumbents, sometimes by fighting other young males when their predecessors die.

    Nature is cruel, and one of the things newly-installed alpha males do is systematically kill all the cubs sired by the previous leaders.  This instinctive behaviour destroys the legacy of the previous leaders.

    The very same animal instincts are driving decisions in the current American White House.  Any legacy inherited from the previous president is choked off torn to shreds — just like an alpha lion chokes and shreds the cubs under his care, regardless of the contribution those cubs might make to the pride. The alpha lion’s instincts are “If it isn’t mine, mine, mine — it’s useless.”


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    They were sitting in church lost in thought and deep in prayer and BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

    Fifty dead and wounded.

    It doesn’t work, people! “Thoughts and prayers” does not work. The victims were praying as they were shot — just like they were at Emanuel Church in Charleston two years ago

    All the other developed countries that do not have six mass shootings a month have achieved a civilized level of law and order by gun safety legislation — not by “thoughts and prayers.” 

    A footnote to the MSNBC anchor who keeps saying “we live in a world where this sort of thing happens.”  No you’re not:  you’re living in a country’ where this sort of thing happens.  The rest of the world has got their shit together on this one -- mass shootings in other OECD countries happen every few years, not every few days.


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    Somebody in Alabama needs to call the state Office of Child Protective Services.

    I just watched a segment on MSNBC about GOP officials in Alabama falling all over themselves to characterize Moore’s alleged underage sexual molestation as “no big deal.”  Basically, they are saying “Even if it’s true… So what?  It was a long time ago, she asked for it, I’d still vote for him and Hillary Clinton.”

    This response is apparently coming from senior state officials like the Secretary of State and the Stae Auditor, as well as many, many county-level GOP chairmen.  If this is their attitude, I worry about the safety of the daughters and granddaughters of these perverts.  Their comments are “normalizing” sexual relations between professional men in their 30’s and young teenagers.

    If you are reading this and live in Alabama, please monitor the comments from your local and state GOP officials, and call the local county office of the Alabama Office of Child Protection whenever one of these pervs outs himself by making a public statement that the rest of us recognize as a danger signal.

    The victims of child sexual abuse often wonder why the adults around them did not recognize and act on the danger signals.

    If you are in Alabama you can report danger signals to the state government’s Child Protection professionals.  The Child Protection web page has an engine that generates local contact information:

    dhr.alabama.gov/…

    Please — do your civic duty and protect vulnerable young Alabama teenagers from the predators in their own families.


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  • 11/10/17--10:19: "Mere allegations..." ???
  • President Trump today defended Roy Moore, saying that we can’t let “mere allegations” ruin someone’s life.

    How did Trump respond to “mere allegations” that Hillary Clinton broke the law with her e-mails — even after the FBI cleared her TWICE?

       He led the chant to “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

    How did Trump respond to “mere allegations” that Hillary Clinton had covered up criminal negligence at Benghazi, even after one congressional committee after another was unable to substantiate this allegation?

       He led the chant to “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

    It’s not really news that Trump’s sense of outrage is self-serving, and not guided by a consistent moral compass — but that doesn’t mean we do not shine a spotlight on it at every opportunity/


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    The requirement for expulsion from the Senate is a two-thirds vote.  Does this mean two-thirds of the votes cast on the resolution or two-thirds of the actual number of seats in the Senate.

    In other words — if only 90 Senators vote on expulsion, do they need 60/90 votes, or 67/90?


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    Trunp’s defence of failed judge Roy Moore is He denies it!

    That’s it!  Nine credible first-person witnesses — but Roy’s not guilty because  he denies it.

    Now how come other criminals never thought of that?  Nine witnesses testify you robbed the bank?   Just deny it!

    Nine cops catch you with a baggie of weed?  Just deny it!

    Nine teachers catch you cheating on a test? Just deny it!

    This is going to revolutionize the practice of criminal defence law.  Just imagine if Charles Manson had thought if this? Or the sheik who organized the 1993 bombing of the  World Trade Center?  

    And — for the life of me — why didn’t Hillary Clinton just deny her 30,000 e-mails.  I’m sure this would have shut down Donald trump


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    My family settled in Tennessee a long, long time ago.  I don’t live there, but I know the south, and here’s what I think:

    Alabamans against Moore — and there are lots from both side of the aisle  by now — need to stand up and say something like THIS:

    In the South we try to live by a code of honor, and part of that code is that we protect women and children. That’s the Way of the South.  There’s nothing in the South’s code of honour that says we have to elect people from one political party or another.  In fact — the majority of southerners switched parties about 50 years ago. 

    Honor the South — deliver a message about Southern honor to Roy Moore.  You don’t need to vote for the other guy — if you are Republican, just sitting on your hands instead of voting sends a powerful message to Roy Moore that his dishonorable behaviour will not stand! 


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    For many years prior to the nuclear agreement with Iran the Mullah’s used “sanctions” as the excuse for a poorly-performing economy.

    Inflation? Blame Uncle Sam.

    No jobs?  Blame the west.

    This excuse resonated with the Iranian people because there was a great deal of truth.  If Iran couldn’t sell its oil or borrow on international markets to finance economic growth, it was difficult to create a robust economy.

    The Iran nuclear deal — hated by Trump because it was an “Obama” achievement — brought an end to this excuse. Inside Iran proponents of the deal undermined its critics by promising the masses that the deal would lift economic sanctions, and the national economy could start finally living up to its potential. 

    The deal raised public expectations, and those expectations were frustrated when the promised economic boom failed to materialize.

    Here’s the dilemma for Trump: if he kills the nuclear deal, he hands the Mullahs a political gift by creating a new excuse for a weak economy. That would pull the rug out from under the current wave or protest — a wave cheered on by none other than Donald Trump.

    If Trump wants the disappointed expectations currently fueling the Iranian protests to get stronger and spread (as they did in Eastern Europe in 1989) he has to keep his tiny little hands off the Nuclear Deal.

    He has to choose — live with Obama’s Nuclear Deal and enjoy the growing popular opposition to the Mullahs or kill the deal and, in doing so, take the air out of the protests movement.  He can’t do both — he can’t have a dead deal and a living protest movement.

    Trump has shown time and again he has poor impulse control, and little capacity to wait it out for delayed rewards based on patient strategy.  Killing the deal gives him instant gratification, allowing economic discontent to slowly grow and slowly reach a tipping point requires big-picture, presidential thinking.

    I’m guessing he goes for the sugar high, and — in doing so — actually entrenches the regime rather than bringing about change… and all without a lesson learned, because Donald Trump doesn’t learn lessons when he falls short, he simply blames others for the failure.


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    Yesterday kos member teacherken published a diary parsing Sen. Blumenthal’s tweet about Russian collusion. Ken named five perps:

       Sam Clovis

       Don Jr.

       Jeff Sessions

       Stephen Miller

       Jared Kushner

    Normally the fair-minded people of kos-land take no joy in the misfortune of others, even when that misfortune is largely self-inflicted.  However — when that misfortune accrues to a grifter who has deliberately cheated American voters, then the quality of our mercy is most definitely constrained (apologies to Shakespeare). 

    Let’s face it — many of us would react to their misfortune with chants of

    Lock him up!  Lock him up!

    Looking at the rogues’ list above, “Which indictment/conviction would bring you the most joy?” 


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