Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


CousinIT's Journal
CousinIT's Journal
December 1, 2023

Nationally, about 85,000 people are getting PrEP through community health centers, MAGA want to defund that program


(and they call themselves "Pro-life"?) I DON'T THINK SO!

. . . several paragraphs down...

Nationally, about 85,000 people are getting PrEP through community health centers, Schmid said.

“Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Congress on the House side have zeroed out that program,” Schmid said. “The Senate has that funding for it, it’s $147 million. But they zeroed out all the Ending the HIV Epidemic funding that impacts North Carolina and 57 jurisdictions. The Senate is actually keeping that money, but, you know, we are facing the possibility of it going away.”

Earlier this month, health care advocates helped defeat an amendment to eliminate the Minority AIDS Initiative, by a vote 109 to 324.

“And so that shows even with Republicans the majority, a majority of the Congress does not support these cuts,” Schmid said. “But that’s what we’re facing right now.”
November 25, 2023

Beyond Trump (why American capitalism is so rotten, Part 1) - RB Reich must-read (IMO)


. . .

If you want to understand where American capitalism is now and what you might do to help move it in a more humane direction, you need to look under the hood.

First, forget politics as you’ve come to see it as electoral contests between Democrats and Republicans. Think power. The underlying contest is between a small minority who are gaining power over the system and the vast majority who have little or none.

Next, forget what you may have learned about the choice between the “free market” and government. A market cannot exist without a government to organize and enforce it. The important question is whom the market has been organized to serve.

Forget the standard economic goals of higher growth and greater efficiency. The issue is who benefits from more growth and efficiency.

Don’t be dazzled by “corporate social responsibility.” Most of it is public relations. Corporations won’t voluntarily sacrifice shareholder returns unless laws require them to. . .

MUCH MORE at the link! https://robertreich.substack.com/p/beyond-trump-why-american-capitalism
November 25, 2023

Warped Front Pages: CJR Researchers examine the self-serving fiction of 'objective' political news

I got this in my Thom Hartmann email this morning so sharing it. https://www.cjr.org/analysis/election-politics-front-pages.php

TLDR (my comment):
They haven't changed since 2008, 2016 and before. There has been no self-reflection on their collective journalistic malpractice of consistently failing the voting public and therefore our Democracy.

The "news" media stinks of slant and infotainment and none of them tell the entire story even when they do bother to mention the issues at stake in elections. When they cover actual issues, which issues they cover and how they report on them are anything but "objective", though their snotty nose-in-the-air arrogant owners and operators love to say they are "objective" and "independent". They are SO not any of that. They are galaxies from anything resembling objective or independent.

Thom Hartmann said in the email:

This is the exact same type of “reporting” that led up to the 2016 election and brought us Donald Trump as president. It’s almost a cliche these days to complain about the “infotainment” we see in TV and radio “news” reporting that has come about in the wake of Reagan ending enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, but to see this same type of horserace coverage passing as news on the front pages of the nation’s largest newspapers is, frankly, a crime against our democracy. For voters to make intelligent decisions about candidates, they must be well-informed. Sadly, that is very much not what is happening today in America, and it bodes ill for the 2024 elections.

_ _ _ _ _ excerpt from the actual article below _ _ _ _ _

. . . Exit polls indicated that Democrats cared most about abortion and gun policy; crime, inflation, and immigration were top of mind for Republicans. In the Times, Republican-favored topics accounted for thirty-seven articles, while Democratic topics accounted for just seven. In the Post, Republican topics were the focus of twenty articles and Democratic topics accounted for fifteen—a much more balanced showing. In the final days before the election, we noticed that the Times, in particular, hit a drumbeat of fear about the economy—the worries of voters, exploitation by companies, and anxieties related to the Federal Reserve—as well as crime. Data buried within articles occasionally refuted the fear-based premise of a piece. Still, by discussing how much people were concerned about inflation and crime—and reporting in those stories that Republicans benefited from a sense of alarm—the Times suggested that inflation and crime were historically bad (they were not) and that Republicans had solutions to offer (they did not).

Stepping back, if the Times and other major news outlets went through any critical self-reflection after the 2016 election, it doesn’t seem to have affected their coverage. Nor did the leadership of the Times publicly acknowledge any failings. Quite to the contrary, in early 2022, Dean Baquet, the outgoing editor at the time, said in an interview that he didn’t have regrets about the paper’s Clinton-email stories. In the same interview, Baquet acknowledged critiques of his paper’s political coverage but pushed back on them aggressively: “My job is to try to convince my newsroom that they should not be overly influenced by criticism from Twitter,” he said. “If Twitter doesn’t like it, Twitter can jump in the lake.” Baquet—and his successors, and peers at other major outlets—seem to view themselves as exhibiting objective (or pure, independent) judgment. Indeed, A.G. Sulzberger, the chairman of the New York Times Company and publisher of the Times, made exactly that argument in a piece for CJR this spring: “I continue to believe that objectivity—or if the word is simply too much of a distraction, open-minded inquiry—remains a value worth striving for,” he wrote, adding that “independence, the word we use inside the Times, better captures the full breadth of this journalistic approach and its promise to the public at large.”

Regardless of what journalists and owners of major papers proclaim, however, news judgments are inherently subjective. Any claims to objectivity are a convenient fiction. On any given day there are many accurate and arguably newsworthy stories that could appear on a front page. (In our study period, the overlap in front-page-story selection at the Times and the Post was only about a third.) Which topics editors choose to emphasize is neither accurate nor inaccurate; they simply reflect subjective opinions. Likewise, the way an article is written also involves a series of choices—which facts are highlighted, whose voices are included, which perspectives are given weight. Words such as “objectivity” and “independence”—even “truth”—make for nice rhetoric but are so easily twisted to suit one’s agenda as to be meaningless. After all, Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson—who, unlike the Times and the Post, don’t operate within the realm of reality—also stake claims to veracity and independence.

What appears in a newspaper is less a reflection of what is happening in the world than what a news organization chooses to tell about what is happening—an indicator of values. Last year, for instance, the Times decided to heavily cover the Russian invasion of Ukraine—understandable, to be sure—but also largely ignored policy implications of the midterm election on the war, as Republicans were threatening to block military aid. Abortion rights were clearly critical to the midterms (with potential impact on laws and judges), whereas crime rates were essentially irrelevant (with no discernible policy hanging in the balance), yet the Times chose to publish twice as many articles on crime (a topic generally favored by Republicans) as on abortion (a topic key to Democrats). The paper also opted to emphasize inflation, rather than job or wage growth, in economic coverage—another choice that catered to Republicans. The Times provided admirably extensive coverage of potential threats to democracy, but in general, midterms coverage didn’t engage much with the dangers posed to the integrity of the election. . . .

The entire thing is worth a read and worth shoving into the faces of the damn media if you find a chance. And THANK YOU Thom Hartmann! https://www.cjr.org/analysis/election-politics-front-pages.php

If you frequent the 'X' sewer, there is my media list:
@AP @CNN @MSNBC @ABC @CBS @NBC @NPR @NYTimes @bpolitics @USATODAY @Newsweek @Reuters @WashingtonPost @maddow @TheReidOut @Lawrence @ABCPolitics @ABCWorldNews @CBSNews @CBSEveningNews @TheBeatWithAri @NBCNews @NBCPolitics @NewsHour @CNNPolitics @TheLeadCNN @CNNSotu @MeetThePress
November 13, 2023

Bruce Schneier: Ten ways AI Will Change Democracy


In a new essay, Harvard Kennedy School’s Bruce Schneier goes beyond AI generated disinformation to detail other novel ways in which AI might alter how democracy functions.

. . .

1. AI as educator. We are already seeing AI serving the role of teacher. It’s much more effective for a student to learn a topic from an interactive AI chatbot than from a textbook. This has applications for democracy. We can imagine chatbots teaching citizens about different issues, such as climate change or tax policy. We can imagine candidates deploying chatbots of themselves, allowing voters to directly engage with them on various issues. A more general chatbot could know the positions of all the candidates, and help voters decide which best represents their position. There are a lot of possibilities here.

2. AI as sense maker. There are many areas of society where accurate summarization is important. Today, when constituents write to their legislator, those letters get put into two piles – one for and another against – and someone compares the height of those piles. AI can do much better. It can provide a rich summary of the comments. It can help figure out which are unique and which are form letters. It can highlight unique perspectives. This same system can also work for comments to different government agencies on rulemaking processes – and on documents generated during the discovery process in lawsuits.

3. AI as moderator, mediator, and consensus builder. Imagine online conversations, where AIs serve the role of moderator. It could ensure that all voices are heard. It could block hateful – or even just off-topic – comments. It could highlight areas of agreement and disagreement. It could help the group reach a decision. This is nothing that a human moderator can't do, but there aren't enough human moderators to go around. AI can give this capability to every decision-making group. At the extreme, an AI could be an arbiter – a judge – weighing evidence and making a decision. These capabilities don’t exist yet, but they are not far off.

. . .

5. AI as political strategist. Right now, you can ask your favorite chatbot questions about political strategy: what legislations would further your political goals, what positions to publicly take, what campaign slogans to use. The answers you get won't be very good, but that’ll improve with time. In the future we should expect politicians to make use of this AI expertise: not to follow blindly, but as another source of ideas. And as AIs become more capable at using tools, they can automatically conduct polls and focus groups to test out political ideas. There are a lot of possibilities here. AIs could also engage in fundraising campaigns, directly soliciting contributions from people.
November 2, 2023

Raising SS Retirement Age is a VERY BAD IDEA. Almost half of retirees were forced to retire earlier than planned...


When it comes to retirement age, there’s a big gap in expectations versus reality. Americans generally retire earlier than planned — often due to factors beyond their control, such as poor health or job loss, research shows.

In 2022, the average expected retirement age was 66, according to a Gallup poll. But the actual retirement age was 62, on average. While the averages have varied somewhat over the years, there has been a consistent gap of about five years between expected and actual retirement ages since 2002, Gallup said.

. . .

Almost half, 46%, of retirees said they left the workforce earlier than planned, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey. That share has been similar for the past two decades, largely hovering between 40% and 50%.

“I think a lot of people who aren’t on track [for retirement] — maybe they’re in their late 40s or early 50s — say, ‘I want to retire at 65 but I’ll work to 70,’” said David Blanchett, a certified financial planner and head of retirement research at PGIM, the asset management arm of Prudential Financial.

. . .

“But they probably won’t make it to 70,” he added.

. . .

“Job loss at older ages is really consequential,” said Johnson, a report co-author. He attributes much of that workplace dynamic to ageism.

October 20, 2023

CMD: Lawmakers la Carte: How ALEC Sells Access to State Legislators


It’s no secret that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) offers its corporate sponsors a variety of options for buying access to state lawmakers.

Now, new documents reveal just how much — or little — it costs.

For $50,000, a corporate or industry executive can give a main stage presentation to all ALEC members in attendance at its annual meeting. For $35,000, a corporation or industry group can work with ALEC’s policy staff to design a workshop for lawmakers.

Materials obtained and reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveal a menu of opportunities for corporate sponsors interested in purchasing access to lawmakers at ALEC’s annual conferences. The documents were prepared in advance of last year’s three-day annual policy meeting in Atlanta, which focused on efforts to combat “woke capitalism,” reproductive healthcare, voting rights, and the administrative state, as CMD previously reported.

Fees for sponsoring this year’s 50th anniversary annual meeting were likely the same, if not higher. Opportunities to buy access to lawmakers and shape legislative priorities range from buying “special” pre- and post-conference sessions for an unspecified price to hosting ice cream socials ($15,000) and the “Kids’ Congress” ($25,000), which allows the sponsor to give t-shirts with their corporate logo to children of legislators in attendance.

Most of the sponsorship packages offer substantial face time with lawmakers, including multiple complimentary meeting registrations (which tend to cost approximately $800 for private sector members) and invitations to each of ALEC’s VIP events, as well as extras such as free banner ads in the meeting app.

Here's a link to the "price list": https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/24037869/alec-2022-annual-meeting-sponsorship-packet.pdf
October 7, 2023

After Shunning Nobel-winning Scientist, University of Pennsylvania Celebrates Her Nobel Prize

School that once demoted Katalin Karikó and cut her pay has made millions of dollars from patenting her work

The University of Pennsylvania is basking in the glow of two researchers who this week were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their pioneering work on messenger RNA.

Until recently, the school and its faculty largely disdained one of those scientists.

Penn demoted Katalin Karikó, shunting her to a lab on the outskirts of campus while cutting her pay. Karikó’s colleagues denigrated her mRNA research and some wouldn’t work with her, according to her and people at the school.

Eventually, Karikó persuaded another Penn researcher, Drew Weissman, to work with her on modifying mRNA for vaccines and drugs, though most others at the school remained skeptical, pushing other approaches.

Karikó hasn’t only proven her detractors wrong but also reached the pinnacle of science. Her research with Weissman helped lead to the mRNA vaccines that protected people worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic and now shows promise for flu, cancer and other diseases.

Penn, which patented their mRNA technology, has made millions of dollars from drugmakers that licensed it. And on Monday, when Karikó and Weissman were awarded the Nobel, on top of prestigious science prizes in recent years, the school expressed a different perspective on their work.


September 9, 2023

The anti-abortionists' domestic abuser mindset:

Tuberville and many American Taliban like him have a domestic abuser mindset. This mindset is one in which they will destroy literally anybody or anything in order to exert and maintain control of the target of their abuse.

In this case the target is America's girls and women. There's a reason that the most dangerous time in a relationship with an abusive person is when the abused person leaves or tries to get out. This is the reason.

The uncontrollable desire for abusive control over other person(s) is more intense at that time than usual. For Tuberville and other anti-abortionists, abusive, torturous control over America's women and girls is a top priority, as it is for any abusive person.

It takes precedence over national security, the ability of the US Senate to function - anything.


June 5, 2023

Ron DeSantis' pastor says gay people should be "put to death"


The pastor who delivered the invocation at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s (R) second inauguration has said that gay people should be put to death.

Tom Ascol — senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida — made his comment on Twitter while criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). On Monday, Cruz issued a tweet criticizing Uganda’s new “Anti-Homosexuality Act,” a law that punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with death.

Ascol disagreed, writing on Tuesday, “Tell it to God, Ted.”

The pastor then cited Leviticus 20:13, the Old Testament verse that says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

Ascol asked, “Was this law God gave to His old covenant people ‘horrific and wrong’?”

Leviticus’ ancient Biblical laws also require the death penalty for anyone who practices fortune telling, curses their mother or father, accidentally kills someone else’s animal, or commits blasphemy. Other Old Testament laws demand death for anyone who charges interest on loans or works on Saturdays.


Hate pastor says trans-supportive parents should be “shot in back of the head”
"We can string them up above a bridge so that the public can see the consequences of that kind of wickedness."


A hate preacher told his church’s congregation that parents who allow their children to have “a transgender surgery” should be shot in the back of the head and hung from a bridge as an example to the public. However, gender-affirming genital surgeries aren’t conducted on children.

These comments came from Jason Graber — a New Independent Fundamental Baptist (New IFB) preacher at Sure Foundation Baptist Church in Spokane, Washington.

"Any parent that would have their child, would have a transgender surgery done on them, any parent that would do that, they just need to be shot in the back of the head,” Graber said. “They need to be convicted in trial and immediately shot in the back of the head. Okay, and then we can string them up above a bridge so that the public can see the consequences of that kind of wickedness.”

. . .

He then said that “there are very, very few people out there in the world today that are actually fighting the spiritual fight.” He told his congregation that he doubts other preachers are willing to say that “these child molesters, that these child butchers, that these fa***ts, all the LGBTQ people, people that desire strange flesh, that they should all be put to death in a public execution by the government.”

FOUNDER of the same Hate Church says he’d rather eat his own vomit than be gay...then he demonstrated the idea.


An infamous anti-LGBTQ preacher said he’d rather eat his own vomit than be gay.

“What these people do is… much grosser than eating your own vomit,” said Steven Anderson, founder of the New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement and pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.

“I would rather eat my own vomit out of a bowl with a spoon every day for the rest of my life until I’m 100 years old than to engage in what they do one single time,” Anderson preached, and then he pretended to throw up and eat his own vomit with a spoon.

. . .

He ended his tantrum by telling his listeners to get over it if they are grossed out by thinking about eating vomit.

AND to top all this off, one of the MAGAts says the quiet part out loud (this time not inside a church):


. . .

Our terrorist enemies hate homosexuals more than we do.”

Mr. Holcomb had said the quiet part out loud, admitting that his party does, in fact, hate the L.G.B.T. community. From the choice of the word “homosexual” to his shocking last sentence, he stunned the House, causing representatives to gasp and start muttering about what he said. Even Speaker Paul Renner of Palm Coast seemed uneasy when conducting the rest of the day’s business.

On camera, one could see Boca Raton Democrat Kelly Skidmore, a representative who has seen some of the worst the House can offer in her 17 sessions of experience, with a shocked expression on her face for a full 12 seconds before she turned to Democratic leadership behind her and simply said, “Oh my God.”

LOTS of MAGAt hate monger cray-cray in this CULT! "Disgusting!" "Gross!" "Vile!", they screech.

Methinks they doth projecteth too much.

May 14, 2023

American Talibanism Descends Upon the UK

National Conservatism conference, May 15-17, Marsham Street, London.


Keynote speaker at #NatCon, Heritage Foundation President: “Heritage’s position, to be really plain, is that marriage is between one man & one woman, full stop.” Asked if that means annulling existing same-sex marriages, he says “I hope so. That would be good for civil society.”

What follows is a summary #THREAD of the 'Statement of Principles' offered by 'National Conservatism', a Christian nationalist project of the Edmund Burke Foundation - a lobbying 'institute' founded in 2019 with the aim of strengthening the principles of national conservatism".

Libertarian billionaire Pete Thiel, & Charlie Kirk, founder of university-based culture war outfit Turning Point, is a signatory of the National Conservatism movement’s statement of principles, & has been a speaker at most NCC events.

Karam Bales looks at the senior British Conservatives appearing at the National Conservatism Conference with its international right wing network, from Peter Thiel to Viktor Orbán
Selected extracts from the 'National Conservatism Statement of Principles':

1. National Independence.

"Each has a right to maintain its own borders and conduct policies that will benefit its own people. We endorse a policy of rearmament by independent self-governing nations."

2. Rejection of Imperialism and Globalism.

"We oppose the liberal imperialism of the last generation, which sought to gain power, influence, and wealth by dominating other nations and trying to remake them in its own image.

3. National Government.

"We recommend a drastic reduction in the scope of the administrative state... (Where) law & justice have been manifestly corrupted, or in which lawlessness, immorality, & dissolution reign, national Govt must intervene energetically to restore order."

4. God and Public Religion.

"No nation can long endure without humility and gratitude before God and fear of his judgment that are found in authentic religious tradition."

"For millennia, the Bible has been our surest guide, nourishing a fitting orientation toward God, to the political traditions of the nation, to public morals, to the defense of the weak, and to the recognition of things rightly regarded as sacred."

"The Bible should be read as the first among the sources of a shared Western civilization in schools and universities, and as the rightful inheritance of believers and non-believers alike."

"Where a Christian majority exists, public life should be rooted in Christianity and its moral vision, which should be honored by the state and other institutions both public and private."

5. The Rule of Law.

"Necessary change must take place through the law. This is how we preserve our national traditions and our nation itself. Rioting, looting, and other unacceptable public disorder should be swiftly put to an end."

6. Free Enterprise.

"We reject the socialist principle, which supposes that the economic activity of the nation can be conducted in accordance with a rational plan dictated by the state."

"Economic policy must serve the general welfare of the nation. Today, globalized markets allow hostile foreign powers to despoil America and other countries of their manufacturing capacity, weakening them economically and dividing them internally."

"At the same time, trans-national corporations showing little loyalty to any nation damage public life by censoring political speech, flooding the country with dangerous and addictive substances and pornography, and promoting obsessive, destructive personal habits."

7. Public Research.

A Cold War-type program modeled on DARPA, the “moon-shot,” and SDI is needed to focus large-scale public resources on scientific and technological research with military applications."

"We recognize that most universities are at this point partisan and globalist in orientation and vehemently opposed to nationalist and conservative ideas. Such institutions do not deserve taxpayer support unless they rededicate themselves to the national interest."

8. Family and Children.

"The traditional family is the source of society’s virtues... built around a lifelong bond between a man and a woman, and on a lifelong bond between parents and children, is the foundation of all other achievements of our civilization."

"The disintegration of the family, including a marked decline in marriage and childbirth, gravely threatens the wellbeing and sustainability of democratic nations. Among the causes are an unconstrained individualism that regards children as a burden...
...while encouraging ever more radical forms of sexual license and experimentation as an alternative to the responsibilities of family and congregational life. Economic and cultural conditions that foster stable family and congregational life and child-raising are priorities."

9. Immigration.

"Today’s penchant for uncontrolled and unassimilated immigration has become a source of weakness and instability, not strength and dynamism, threatening internal dissension and ultimately dissolution of the political community."

"We call for much more restrictive policies until these countries summon the wit to establish more balanced, productive, and assimilationist policies. Restrictive policies may sometimes include a moratorium on immigration."

10. Race.

"We condemn the use of state and private institutions to discriminate and divide us against one another on the basis of race. The cultural sympathies encouraged by a decent nationalism offer a sound basis for conciliation and unity among diverse communities."

Profile Information

Name: Are You Serious?
Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Least Coast
Home country: The dumb one with the guns and MAGA
Current location: Swamp
Member since: Thu Jul 23, 2009, 10:57 AM
Number of posts: 8,694

About CousinIT

@sevenbowie on Twitter, Mastodon and Post

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»CousinIT's Journal