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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,555

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So, about those shootings in Charleston. . .

. . . Seems as if they've completely fallen off the radar. We allowed ourselves to get so wrapped up in the Confederate flag issue, which, while important, does nothing substantive towards either combatting the underlying racism that led to the shootings, nor about addressing the proliferation of racial hate groups throughout the south, nor about the role played by the easy availability of guns. I posted something to Facebook last Wednesday about this:

I couldn't be more pleased to see the sudden push among a number of Southern states, and Southern Republican politicians, to begin considering the removal of symbols of the Confederacy from public grounds, flags, etc. Public symbols are important, and it is important that symbols used represent all of the citizens whom the government serves, and that they not show partiality towards a particular constituency. It is something that is long overdue, and none of the arguments made in defense of the continued display of those symbols stands up to historical scrutiny.

I am a bit concerned, though, that THIS conversation is being permitted to overtake and supplant the conversation we still very much need to have in the wake of the Charleston shootings: the conversation about the availability of guns to violent, troubled individuals. That remains a critical discussion, and one we continue to try to avoid. And I cannot help but wonder if the hope that the Confederate flag controversy will absorb much of the energy of the conversation about guns is what is driving the sudden change of heart by so many Republican politicians.

And it is looking more and more like my fears were founded. I see the entire, virtual overnight "come to Jesus" moment for Republicans on the Confederate flag issue as nothing more than a cynical ploy to both divert the public conversation away from the more substantive issues that need to be addressed, and at the same time to provide an opportunity for themselves to cast their party, in the eyes of younger voters, as not being the racists that in fact they are.

Much as I hate to admit it, we were totally outplayed on this one.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jun 30, 2015, 12:28 PM (6 replies)

Watch out for this fake news website masquerading as The New York Times

I saw two articles in the past 24 hours posted on Facebook, from the domain "nytimes.com.co", by people who thought they were posting real news stories from the New York Times. I was suspicious, because both stories were ones might expect to find in a gossip column -- not the Times' usual fare. And sure enough, my suspicions were correct. This really cannot be called harmless parody, because the site is deliberately trying to deceive people into believing it is the New York Times. Beware!

[font size=5]Watch out for this fake news website masquerading as The New York Times[/font]

Jun. 29, 2015, 10:34 AM

Earlier today I noticed someone tweet a bizarre article. The headline read “Marcus Bachmann Cries ‘Call Me Caitlyn’ After SCOTUS Ruling,” and the story made sweeping allusions about the identity of Michele Bachman’s husband.

Even more bizarre, upon first glance it seemed to come from The New York Times — or at least that’s what the URL indicated.

But, it actually didn’t. This story came from another website: NYTimes.com.co., masquerading as The New York Times. Notice the extra ‘.co’ at the end of the URL there? It’s there specifically to trip you up.

The archives of this website — which admittedly does look like an elementary student coded it — show dozens of fake news articles. All of them are topical, not too outlandish to be completely discounted, and propagate intentionally misleading information.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 29, 2015, 06:05 PM (4 replies)


This is a great day for all New Yorkers! And we are all indebted to the tireless efforts of activists such as Josh Fox, the documentary filmmaker who made the films, "Gasland" and "Gasland II," which exposed the harm posed by the fracking industry!

[font size=5]Official fracking ban a watershed moment for New York[/font]
For Immediate Release

July 29,2015
Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
914-478-4501, Ext 239

Riverkeeper: DEC’s groundbreaking Findings Statement on fracking represents a watershed moment in the protection of New York’s communities and natural resources

OSSINING, N.Y. – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its widely anticipated Findings Statement on June 29, 2015, officially instating the ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that Governor Cuomo’s administration courageously announced back in December of 2014. The Findings Statement concludes: “Based on unavoidable adverse environmental impacts and uncertainty regarding the science surrounding high-volume hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts to public health and the environment … high-volume hydraulic fracturing will be prohibited in New York State.” The DEC concluded that even a stringent regulatory program could not guarantee these impacts would be adequately mitigated.

Riverkeeper, after assessing the findings statement, has this statement from Kate Hudson, its Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives:

“This day will go down as one of the most important in New York’s history, when we witnessed our state government confirm that protecting the health and safety of all New Yorkers was the highest priority and would not be compromised for the interests of the oil and gas industry.

“We thank Governor Cuomo and the Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation for fulfilling the Governor’s promise to follow the science in order to make the right decision on fracking. The ban is firmly rooted in the scientific research gathered since 2009 – the vast majority of which identifies the threats that fracking poses to public health and the environment. The DEC’s Final SGEIS offers the most thorough scientific review to date of the potential impacts from high-volume hydraulic fracturing and should be used as a model for other jurisdictions contemplating the development of shale and other low-permeability gas reservoirs. We commend the DEC’s strong commitment to science in protecting New York’s communities and natural resources.

“The Findings Statement formalizes what the scientific evidence and the majority of citizens have made inescapably clear: fracking should and will have no place in the great state of New York.”
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 29, 2015, 04:07 PM (3 replies)

Had to share this response to Huckabee on gay marriage . . .

. . . This was posted on Facebook by none other than Nate Phelps, 'errant' son the the late and infamous Fred Phelps (who had the wisdom to flee his father's madness at the stroke of midnight on his 18th birthday and has never looked back):

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Jun 28, 2015, 08:19 PM (7 replies)

A bit of gaysplaining for Chief Justice Roberts . . .

The Chief Justice says LGBT people have "lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause." Um, okay . . I guess I have to do a bit of gaysplaining for you, Mr. Chief Justice . .

I know this may come as a shock to you, Justice Roberts, but I think I can safely speak for most LGBT folks when I say that for most of us, our world stopped revolving around giving a shit whether or not straight people 'accept' us or not. If they do, terrific, if they don't, oh well. And most of us learned a long time ago that the only people we can persuade about anything are those who are willing to be persuaded. And if it's all the same to you, most of us would prefer to enjoy the rights to which we are entitled now, rather than at some future, unspecified date when straight society has become secure enough, and is feeling magnanimous enough, to deign to treat us as fellow citizens of equal standing.

Your concern is duly noted, however.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jun 27, 2015, 09:44 PM (27 replies)

Scalia in ACA Dissent: "words no longer have meaning" - to which I say . . .

Scalia, fulminating over the majority's determination that the intended meaning of the word 'state,' in the phrase "exchanges established by the State," is ambiguous when considered in light of the bill's overall objectives of insuring the uninsured, and also in the context of the regulatory scheme put in place by the ACA, sputters that "words no longer have meaning" if that phrase can be interpreted to include exchanges established by the federal government.

To that I say . . .

If the definition of 'person' can be construed to include 'corporation,' and if the definition of 'speech' can be construed to include 'money,' then I'm pretty sure both the language and the republic will survive construing 'State' to include 'federal' in this particular context!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 06:38 PM (6 replies)

My comment re: Scalia's dissent, posted to a NY Times editorial

This is the text of a comment I posted to a very fine New York Times editorial on the gay marriage decision titled, "A Profound Ruling Delivers Justice on Gay Marriage":

Mark Kessinger

In his rather unhinged dissent, Justice Scalia whines:

"A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.
. . . .
This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."

Touching, isn't it, this great concern for the people's right to self governance? So, I have to wonder: where was that concern in Bush v. Gore, when Scalia and his buddies thought it was perfectly okay to stop an election recount that was ongoing and to simply appoint the President they happened to prefer? Where was it in Citizens United and the other campaign finance decisions that opened our elections, and indeed our government itself, to unbridled influence by corporate interests?

In any event, to the extent that self-government by "the people" isn't an entirely laughable notion anyway at this stage in our history, there has also been a long-standing principle, recognized by the Court, that fundamental rights are not subject to majority vote. The Court has long recognized marriage as such a fundamental right. If, in fact, fundamental rights were to be subject to the whims of majority vote, NOBODY's rights would ever be safe.

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 06:21 PM (54 replies)

For the last time, the American Civil War was not about states’ rights

NOTE: This is possibly one of the best debunkings of neo-confederate historical revisionism regarding the Civil War that I have seen anywhere to date.

[font size=5]For the last time, the American Civil War was not about states’ rights[/font]


< . . . .>

. . . (T)he historiography of the Civil War is somewhat unique. Rarely in human history has a conflict’s losing side been lent such considerable say in how the textbooks remember it. As such, American social studies curricula have long been hobbled by one of the most pervasive myths in US history: that the Civil War was fought to preserve (or undermine) the spectral concept of “states’ rights.”
It’s a self-delusion some use to justify neo-Confederate pride: stars-and-bars bumper stickers, or remnants of Confederate iconography woven into some of today’s state flags. “It’s about Southern pride,” they insist. “It’s about heritage”—forgetting, intentionally perhaps, that slavery and its decade-spanning echoes are very much a part of the collective American heritage. Confederate denialism, in the form of states’ rights advocacy, permits sentimentalists to keep their questionable imagery without having to address its unsavory associations.

< . . . . >

In its constitution, Confederate leaders explicitly provided for the federal protection of slaveholding:

“In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”

It’s a provision that clashes jarringly with neo-Confederate mythos—how could the South secede to preserve states’ rights if its own constitution mandated legal, federally protected slavery across state borders?

<. . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 22, 2015, 05:45 PM (14 replies)

Taking down a wingnut who said Charleston shootings were intended to target Christians . . .

. . .an exchange with another reader in the comments to E.J. Dionne's Washington Post column, Charleston and the Politics of Evasion:

12:35 PM EDT

The leftist radicals only see race. They seem to be ignoring the fact that those killed were Christians. Though as we found out in news from Syria and Iraq, most liberals don't care about the murdering of Christians. Its too bad the ones in Syria or Iraq were not reported to have been black or then we might see some level of perceived outrage from the left.

3:16 PM EDT
If you really want to see how absurd the reasoning must be in order to enable one to arrive at the conclusion that the shooter may have been targeting Christians, consider a hypothetical, parallel story that occurs outside of any question of racial motivation. Let's suppose there were some individual who harbored an intense, irrational hatred of, say, men with freckled faces. So he thinks about where he might be able to find a lot of them gathered in once place. No obvious choices come to mind, so he figures he'll go to the local Wal-Mart, figuring there is sure to be more than one, just by virtue of the volume of foot traffic. Turns out it is his lucky day, and he finds six men with freckled faces at Wal-Mart, whereupon he shoots and kills them all.

After the shooting, an eyewitness reports that as he was shooting, he was speaking of the necessity of taking out men with freckled faces. What's more, it is discovered he has a history of association with hate groups who target people with freckled faces, and his social media postings also turn out to demonstrate an obsessive hatred of folks with freckles. Any finally, when he is apprehended, he confesses to police that his desire was to kill men with freckled faces. But some conservative media outlets, uncomfortable as they are with discussions of anti-freckled bigotry, suggest instead that the shooter was targeting Wal-Mart stores. That is EXACTLY the same as what you are doing in suggesting this shooter was targeting Christians.

And yes, it is THAT absurd!
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 22, 2015, 05:29 PM (3 replies)

House reverses course, passes ‘fast-track’ provision crucial for Trans-Pacific Partnership

While we have all been grieving over the events in Charlston, House Republicans, along with 28 turncoat Democrats, found time to do this:

[font size=5]House reverses course, passes ‘fast-track’ provision crucial for Trans-Pacific Partnership[/font]

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday reversed course, approving “fast-track” legislation central to President Barack Obama’s trade deal with Pacific Rim nations and sending it back to the Senate.

The close vote in the House, which last week rejected a related bill, kept alive Obama’s goal of bolstering U.S. ties with Asia through a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the economic element of a foreign policy shift aimed in part at countering the rising influence of China.

The House voted 218-208 to give Obama the fast-track authority to speed trade deals, including the TPP, to conclusion with reduced interference from Congress. The TPP would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and is close to completion.

<. . . . >

n an unusual alliance, the president and Republican House Speaker John Boehner turned last Friday’s loss into a win by excising the worker aid program that was voted down by the House. That neutralized the ability of some Democrats’ to use it to stymie fast-track, and capitalized on support from a bloc of 28 pro-trade Democrats.

< . . . . >

So basically, that vote last week amounted to nothing more than legislative theater. I don't think I've ever been so disgusted with the President. I keep thinking of all those folks who, during the President's first term, assured us, over and over, that in his second term, when he no longer had to worry about getting re-elected, we would finally see his true 'progressive' colors. Well, we've seen his true colors alright.

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:34 AM (2 replies)
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