Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bush’s Shrine, Part 2 “Love These Two”

George Bush Admits to Authorizing Torture

The Constitution Report on Torture

Rachel Maddow and the Poop Cruise Theory

   Syndicated columnist Charles (Mr Smiley) Krauthammer mentions Afghanistan and Iraq in his April 25th op-ed in the Washington Post. He is happy that the Taliban were overthrown in Afghanistan, and that everybody thought invading that country was the right thing to do at the time. The same thing with the invasion of Iraq, that it was okay to invade that country because there was a broad concensus that Iraq was terribly dangerous. But most of all Charles praised Bush for this: “He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.” I would think by that statement he meant the founding of the Department of Homeland Security, a huge new bureaucracy, but instead he sites “ indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo,” which technically cannot be considered infrastructure, as they are not physical entities (except Guantanamo), but techniques and strategies... like terrorism itself. And he seems pleased that these techniques and strategies work so well that President Obama continues to use them.
   Bush’s brain, Karl Rove thinks George Bush was a wonderful president too. He also thinks Bush kept America safe, and continues to do so.
   “He kept us safe after 9/11, he moved to modernize our tools, provide the tools to fight terror, he called terror for what it was, he tackled the big issues of trying to reform Social Security, Medicare, immigration, education,” Rove said at the opening of the Bush Library and Museum.  
   He was asked about Iraq.
   “I do believe that the Iraq War was the right thing to do and the world is a safer place for having Saddam Hussein gone,” he said. Like Krathammer, Rove also justifies the war due to the fact  there was a “bipartisan consensus” that Hussein had WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction).
   Rove also blamed the democrats for the 2008 financial crisis, and ranked President Bush high on the list of great Presidents.
   “The greats, you can't touch: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan [?], FDR, the greats. But yeah, I'd put him up there,” he said.
   President Obama thinks Bush is a good man:
   My lovely sort of niece, Shannon, reposted the picture of then President Bush and his wife that is at the top of this post, with the caption... or direction or order, “Love these two.”
   Apparently she believes Bush was a dandy president as well, and misses him being in office. I know she was a Romney supporter, and we’ve discussed this before:
   I have a different view.
   I don’t watch Fox so-called news, or listen to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. I do watch MSNBC quite often, but I don’t get most of my information on current events from that network, although that would be fine if I didn’t have access to the Internet machine.
   As many faithful readers may know I am a great supporter of what is known as the “Scientific Method,” which consists of three simple components. 1. Create an idea or hypotheses, 2. Test that idea by an experiment or test that can be independently repeated by others, and 3. If your idea passes that test have all of the available data reviewed by experts.
   That process deals in real world facts, not opinions of how I might like the world to be like. If the idea I have doesn’t fit the available evidence and can’t pass the above process, then by necessity I have to alter my way of thinking, or ideas to fit the available evidence.
   Opinions, no matter how cherished, don’t work well within the model of the scientific method. The idea of “Intelligent Design,” for instance, that creationists attempt to pass off as valid scientific theories repeatedly in our nation’s schools, cannot pass the rigors of the scientific method simply because there is no available evidence to support the theory, or to test. Intelligent design is an opinion, an idea, a wish that many would hope to be true, that may support their own personal beliefs, but which cannot be verified in what I like to call the “real world.”
   MSNBC, I’ve found, deals in verifiable facts that can be... verified. Yes, some of the hosts offer their personal opinions, but when that happens I know they are opinions and accept them for what they are... opinions. Yet most of the time they are opinions that are based on facts, that exist in the real world.
   Fox, and the right wing media do not deal in facts that can be verified. They offer opinions that can not be verified in the real world. Their viewers are less informed about what is going on in the real world than people who don’t watch any news at all! ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/fox-news-less-informed-new-study_n_1538914.html )
   What Fox does do well is tell people with a certain mind set what they want to hear, rather than what really is.
   As former President Clinton pointed out past presidents have a large incentive to revise history as to make themselves look good. I and others point out that these presidential libraries are one tool they utilize to do that.
   But let’s take a look at some verifiable facts concerning the Bush administration, facts, I maintain, that will be remembered and etched in the historical record, rather than what the revisionists would have us believe.
   1. Bush kept us safe. Officials of the Bush administration were warned almost as soon as they entered office that Middle Eastern interests were planning to attack within the United States. They were even warned how it would be done ( http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91651&page=1#.UX6_oEqsOSo ). On September 11th 2001, the attacks occurred. How is this considered keeping us safe? This was the greatest attack  as far as casualties are concerned in the history of this nation, yet Bush apologists pass over this incident as if the Bush presidency didn’t begin until September 12th.
   Further, Conor Friedersdorf of “The Atlantic,” points out:
   "Bush's tenure included anthrax attacks that killed five people (more than died in the Boston marathon bombing) and that injured between 22 and 68 people. Bush was president when Hesham Mohamed Hadayet killed two and wounded four at an LAX ticket counter; when the Beltway snipers killed 10 people; when Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar injured six driving his SUV into a crowd; and when Naveed Afzal Haq killed one woman and shot five others in Seattle."
2. Bush is an admitted war criminal. Six days after the 9/11 attacks Bush personally issued orders instructing the CIA that it could use “enhanced interrogation techniques” against suspected terrorists. The methods included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and “stress positions.” The United States has laws making the use of torture illegal (After World War II, during the Tokyo Trials for war crimes "an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."). As reported in the second clip above a recently-released bipartisan committee concluded it was “indisputable” that these techniques constituted torture, and that the highest authorities in the country bore responsibility for the creation of torture programs at Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black sites” around the world. The report also stated that there was no actionable intelligence that was derived from using these methods.

3. Dropped the ball in the unnecessary war with Afghanistan to start an unnecessary war in Iraq. Before 9/11, the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan offered Osama bin Laden up for trial ( http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2011/09/20119115334167663.html ). This appears to be a failed response by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, which if acted upon would have made the invasion of Afghanistan unnecessary. After 9/11, and after the United States began bombing within Afghanistan, the Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden or try him if Bush ordered the bombing to stop ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5 ), thereby ending the conflict. Bush refused. Not only did he refuse, but he shifted resources needed by American forces in Afghanistan away in order to wage another unnecessary war in Iraq which had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks.
   The evidence Bush (and when I say Bush, I also include his senior staff, such as Vice President Cheney, Sec Defense Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Sec State Colin Powell, and others) presented to the world to justify starting a war in Iraq was at first ambiguous and then fabricated. In the end Bush lied us into war. But even taken at face value the rational was flawed. First it was weapons of mass destruction. Saddam had them, had used them against his own people, was a clear danger to the entire world. The intelligence supporting this conclusion was thin to say the least, but even if it had been true, so what? Saddam, once an ally of the United States (if indeed Saddam Hussein had WMDs, there was a good chance that the United States had sold them to him) was never a threat to the United States as he had no way to deliver his weapons to the US. He may have been a threat within the region, but we didn’t seem to care about that when Iraq and Iran were at war with each other for 8 years. In fact we supported him in that war. And Israel, with it’s nuclear arsenal could more than likely take care of itself. Why did we need to interfere? Also, using this rational, why is it that we didn’t invade North Korea, which we knew for certain had WMDs?
   Then it was Saddam had links with Al-Qaeda, that he was a bad person, that the U.S. needed to liberate the Iraqi people and spread democracy. All of these excuses to go to war with another sovereign nation were pure and simple bullshit. The truth is Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq because... well no one really knows. Only Bush does. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
   “As of 26 March 2013, there have been 3,173 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of ongoing coalition operations (Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF) since the invasion in 2001. In this total, the American figure is for deaths "In and Around Afghanistan" which, as defined by the United States Department of Defense, includes some deaths in Pakistan and Uzbekistan and the deaths of 12 CIA operatives.
   The decade-long War in Afghanistan (2001–present) has caused the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians directly from insurgent and foreign military action, as well as the deaths of possibly tens of thousands of Afghan civilians indirectly as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, and crime resulting from the war.
   A total of 4,487 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2012.” -Wikipedia
   “The true number of military personnel injured over the course of our nine-year-long fiasco in Iraq is in the hundreds of thousands -- maybe even more than half a million -- if you take into account all the men and women who returned from their deployments with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, hearing loss, breathing disorders, diseases, and other long-term health problems.”-Dan Froomkin, writing for the Huffington Post.
   I hold George W Bush responsible for every injury and every death that occurred in these two conflicts. He is a true mass murderer. Love him? No other person on the surface of this planet deserves the death penalty more than he does.

4. Bush was a good steward of the economy.  Alex Seitz-Wald, of Salon points out, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, writing in the National Review this week, "Over Mr. Bush's tenure, our national debt averaged 38 percent of GDP, a result of holding average annual deficits to 2 percent of GDP, and federal spending remained below 20 percent of GDP in six of his eight years in office. (Only one other president in the past 40 years was able to reach such a low level, and for fewer years)." Jennifer Rubin added in the Washington Post: "He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D."
   Former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andy Card even had the chutzpah to claim that President Bush "probably has the best track record of any modern president in terms of fiscal discipline."
   The only way to make that claim is to be willfully dishonest, as the numbers are cut and dried. Notice that Gillespie cites the average debt over the course of the eight years, instead of the progression. Here's another way of looking at Bush's fiscal legacy: When he entered office, the U.S. government was running a surplus (and was projected to do so for the next several decades) and when Bush left office, the government was running its biggest deficit since World War II.
   Part of this can be attributed to the collapse in tax revenue during the Great Recession, and even if we don't blame Bush for letting Wall Street collapse the economy, you can certainly blame him for ruining the fiscal bulwark built up under the Clinton years with massive tax cuts that mostly benefited the rich and two hugely expensive wars.” See chart above.
   People have lost their homes due to this recession. People have died because of it. I hold Bush responsible.
   What else?
   5. Politicized climate science. 6. Botched the response to Hurricane Katrina. 7. Defunded stem cell research. 8. Required Muslim men to register with the government after 9/11. 9. Reinstated the global gag rule. 10. Supported anti-gay discrimination. 11. Widened income inequality. 12. Undermined worker protections. 13. Ideological court appointments. 14. Murdered the English language. On and on.*
   Instead of one of the best I believe history will find George W. Bush as one of the worst presidents this nation has endured.
   I’m not thrilled with the current president either. Obama has pandered to Wall Street interests, was willing to put social security benefit cuts on the table in budget negotiations with the republicans even when they hadn’t asked for them, is responsible for hundreds of deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan due to CIA drone attacks, arguably making him a war criminal as well, and a terrorist as far as civilian Afghanis and Pakistanis are concerned, then exclaiming astonishment when we are attacked within the U.S.
   But as I’ve said before, I have considered Obama’s to have been a failed presidency ever since he made the decision not to prosecute George W bush, and senior members of his administration for crimes of war, despite his campaign assertion that there were not two sets of laws, one for the powerful and privileged, and one for everyone else. He lied to us. His “looking forward,” argument for not prosecuting Bush, and hindering other nations from prosecuting Bush, is so stupid it’s one of the stupidest arguments in the history of stupid arguments. My 3 year old grandnephew Jaxen rebutted that argument thusly, “If that were true then no one would ever go to jail, for anything, as all crimes that are prosecuted happened in the past.”
   So true Jaxen, so true.
   Perhaps President Obama is counting on his eventual successor to be as forward looking as he has been regarding his own crimes.
   We shall see.

The Daily Show’s Take

* Thanks to Alex Seitz-Wald & the mysterious folks at the ThinkProgress War Room for source information.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bush's Shrine

"All In" with Chris Hayes, The Bush Administration

   Last Wednesday one acting president and four former presidents got together in one place, the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of the Southern Methodist University, in University Park, which is a suburb of Dallas, which is also in Texas.
   “In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition,” George W Bush said. “Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right, polls rise and fall, supporters come and go. But in the end leaders are defined by the convictions that they hold. And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom.”
   I guess what one can make out of all of that ideological gobbledy gook is that his guiding principle during his time in office was to force his idea of freedom on others whether they wanted it or not, like we did in Iraq, and are  currently doing in Afghanistan.  
   I hope the people of those two nations, those that are still alive, appreciate all that we’ve done for them.
   By the way, during the opening ceremony two words were never mentioned by anyone. Iraq, and Afghanistan.
   Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” spent last Thursday touring the “library,” and found no mention of those two words. 
   How odd.
   It’s almost like Mr Bush doesn’t want to remind the folks who come to visit that he was responsible for starting those two wars, one that was unnecessary due to the fact that the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan at the time before the war were perfectly willing to either try Osama bin Laden, or turn him over to the U.S. if the U.S provided evidence that bin Laden was implicated in the attacks of 9/11 (but Bush didn’t want to do that. It was politically untenable, and the other thing... he really wanted to go to war), and that the Iraqi invasion was based on false, purposely contrived intelligence.
   “I told President Obama,” Bill Clinton said at the opening, “that this was the latest, grandest example of the eternal struggle of former presidents to rewrite history.”
   I believe old Bill was trying to be clever. Too clever.
   Awkward, polite laughter followed his remark, but I don’t understand what was funny.
   The “library and museum” cost $250 million dollars. Thankfully, these presidential “libraries” are not paid for with tax payer funds, although I’m sure that if  Bush could have figured out a way to legally use tax payer funds to pay for it he would have. Why? Because then Bush wouldn’t have had to go begging to his fat cat buddies for the cash, although I’m sure they were eager to give it up in order to maintain their illusion that Bush was a good... no scratch that, a great president, worthy of their efforts, attention, and money.
   There are currently 22 of the things. The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, Virginia (where my cousin Kathy lives. Hi Kathy! (under construction)), the John Quincy Adams (you know, the guy Anthony Hopkins portrayed in “Amistad”) Stone Library in Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts, The Abraham Lincoln (you know, that guy Daniel Day Lewis portrayed in “Lincoln”)  Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, the Ulysses S. Grant (you know, that guy Roy Engel and Kevin Kline (I’ll stop soon, I promise) portrayed in the “Wild Wild West”) Presidential Library in Starkville, Mississippi, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia,  the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, the  Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, Boston, which is in Massachusetts, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, Gerald Ford has two of them (I don’t know why), the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, and now the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
   The National Archives and Records Administration operates 13 of them (14 when the George W. Bush Presidential Center opens to the public on Wednesday).
   It works like this: the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 encouraged presidents to donate their papers and other stuff back to the government who would guarantee their preservation and future availability to the public (up until 1978 the government considered presidential papers and their other stuff as the President’s property, to do with as they wished). The government does not pay for the construction of the library. The President and his people must find the funds for that from private donors. But after it’s built the National Archives and Records Administration takes it over for operation and maintenance. Guess who funds the National Archives and Records Administration? We do. Taxpayers do. To the tune of about 75 million a year to maintain these "libraries."
   Sequester that, Congress!
   FDR began the whole thing when he donated his personal and presidential papers to the federal government in 1939, as well as some land at his estate in Hyde Park, while his buddies created a non-profit corporation to build a library to put all that stuff in so people could look at it. That wild man Harry Truman decided to do the same thing (although he didn’t have as much money as Roosevelt), and then Congress got it’s big face into the situation, hence the Libraries Act.
   They did it again in 1978 with the Presidential Records Act which took all of the President’s and Vice President’s papers and stuff away from them after they left office and gave them to the federal government, or as the Act stipulates, gave them to the public, wherein the public could look and fondle them as much as they wanted.
   And what better place to do that then a nice expensive library and museum? 
   As you might tell, I’m not a big fan of these “libraries,” as they aren’t really libraries at all, but monuments to these men, like the Egyptian Pyramids, or as Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” aptly put it, “These are shrines. They are theme parks of adoration. They are what you would expect to see in a dictatorship where public worship of a head of state is mandatory.”
   He says that right here:
   Did you catch that about the library’s ability to restrict access to files, Emails, and documents, even though the Presidential Libraries Act was passed in part  to guarantee the public’s access, and is also subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Lawrence sites Anthony Clark’s article in Salon magazine in which he states officials within the Bush library can virtually hold up processing of information requests indefinitely, or at least until 2021, and possibly longer.
   I guess, as Bush himself and his supporters have consistently maintained, history will decide the final determination of the success or failure of Bush’s years in office. I have no doubt that will be true. However if Bush’s cronies at the library withhold vital information that historians will use to make those determinations, it indeed will take a while.
   But that’s alright. We already know enough about George W. Bush.
   My God, he’s even admitted it.

To be continued.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Jessica Alba!

Picture Legend:

1. Jessica
2. Pomona Fair
3. In her first movie, Camp Nowhere, 14 years old
4. High School yearbook
5. With Flipper
6. Big break in Dark Angel
7. As Honey in Honey
8. Working with Rodriguez as Nancy Callahan in Sin City
9. In Fantastic Four
10. Promo picture for Into the Blue
11. With penguin friends in Good Luck Chuck
12. With Mike Myers in The Love Guru
13. With Aston Krutcher in Valentine’s Day
14. Pissed off in Machete
15. In Little Fockers
16. Jessica’s thumb
17. My thumb (simulated. Erin didn’t come to work Friday so I couldn’t get my own picture)
18. She also flies
19. Playboy cover... looks familiar
20. Out with family
21. Why is Jessica considered a sex symbol?
22. Her book
23. Ms Jessica Alba

   It is my great pleasure and honor this morning to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite actresses, and thumb sister, Ms Jessica Alba!
   Jessica was born as a small female infant at 1:51 PM (PDT), at a very early age, in Pomona, California. Again, like our friend Ashley Judd, within walking distance of where I once lived in Nortrhridge... if one cared to walk 56.8 miles.
   Pomona is named after the ancient Roman goddess of fruit, and is famous for being the city where Jessica Alba was born, and for being the site where Los Angeles has it’s annual County Fair, wherein urban Los Angelenos can come and look and touch pigs and cows, which is very exciting for us.
   Jessicas’ mom’s name was  Catherine Jensen before she got married to Mark Alba. Catherine is of Danish and French Canadian descent and Mark of Mexican ancestry. Jessica also has a younger brother, Joshua, who is also an actor. Imagine that.
   She has described her family as being a "very conservative family – a traditional, Catholic, Latin American family," but herself as being very liberal, like me! Jessica says she had identified herself as a "feminist" by the time she was five.
   When I was five I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground, which just goes to prove everyone was much more focused than I was at an early age.
   Jessica would later say this about growing up and being typecast:
   “My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn't speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.”
   “My whole life, when I was growing up, not one race has ever accepted me. So I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. I did grow up in a Mexican-American culture, but my mom was there the whole time. I mean, I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don't speak Spanish. So, to say that I'm a Latin actress, OK, but it's not fitting; it would be insincere. If you're going to look genetically, I'm actually less Latin than Cameron Diaz, whose father is from Cuba. But she's not getting called a Latin actress because she's got blond hair and blue eyes.”
   Jessica’s dad was a pro-circuit tennis player before joining the Air Force, which took him and his family away from Pomona, to Biloxi, Mississippi, when she was still a baby. Biloxi is famous for it’s Air Force Base, and for almost getting destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hopefully Ms Alba was no where around at that time.
   “My first kiss was when I was 7, and it was scandalous because he was 10! I only did it so he would pick me on our neighborhood baseball team. And at the time, I thought it was great, but then it sucked because he didn't even pick me!”
   Typical male SOB.
   You move around a lot when in the military, and Mark soon brought his family back to California, then to Del Rio, Texas, then back to California, Claremont, to be exact ("The City of Trees and PhD's"). Jessica was nine by this time.
   Despite of all this Jessica’s childhood was marked by great difficulties. She suffered from partially collapsed lungs twice, which is no joke, had pneumonia four to five times a year, which is even more serious, and a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. She’s had asthma practically all of her life. She has acknowledged that she had suffered from an obsessive–compulsive disorder as well.
   She was pretty f__ked up, which sucks, especially for a little girl. I feel sorry for her considering the only major childhood illness I ever suffered from was a mean case of the Chickenpox, and a fake peptic ulcer I displayed to get out of going to school.
   Being sick so much, and moving from place to place as she did, adversely affected her social life, providing a sense of isolation, that was actually quite real.
   Still Jessica had dreams and ambition. Wanting to be an actress since she was five, a feminist actress, in 1992, the 11 year old persuaded her mom to take her to an acting competition in Beverly Hills, where the grand prize was free acting classes. Guess what? She won that grand prize and began taking her first acting lessons.
   Nine months later one of those big time Hollywood agents signed her up as a client, and soon after that she got a small role in what would be her first movie, 1994‘s “Camp Nowhere,” starring our old friend, Christopher Lloyd. She was signed up for a two week job, but another actress suspiciously dropped out of the film, giving Jessica her part (because her hair matched that of the other actress... suspiciously), which lasted for two months.
   Two national television commercials for Nintendo and J.C. Penney soon followed. That year she secured a recurring TV role in Nickelodeon's popular comedy series "The Secret World of Alex Mack,” playing Jessica, who spent the first season torturing Alex, played by Larisa Oleynik.
   She only worked on the show that first season, but the role got her more experience and exposure, which opened the door for other television work on shows like “Chicago Hope,” “ABC Afterschool Specials,” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
   In 1995, 14 year old Jessica won the role of Maya Graham in the revival of the 1964 show “Flipper,” which was famous for producing Mitt (Mitt) Romney’s presidential theme song for the 2012 election:
   Jessica’s mom was a lifeguard who had taught her how to swim before she could walk, so the part was perfect for her. She was also a PADI ( Professional Association of Diving Instructors) - certified scuba diver, which allowed her to stay underwater in the ocean for long periods of time, a place I try to avoid for the simple reason there are things down there that want to eat you. However, these skills would come in handy later on as well.
   The pilot and three episodes were filmed in Pigeon Key, Florida and at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. Samuel Goldwyn Television produced the show for first-run syndication. Jessica followed the production to the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, and worked on it for the first two seasons, until 1997.
    Jessica said she was delighted to be doing a show that allowed her to play with dolphins. Later she’d get penguins.
   Somewhere around this time she left the Catholic Church of which her family were devoted members. She said it was because she felt she was being judged for her appearance, explaining: "Older men would hit on me, and my youth pastor said it was because I was wearing provocative clothing, when I wasn't. It just made me feel like if I was in any way desirable to the opposite sex that it was my fault, and it made me ashamed of my body and being a woman."
   These incidents are an example of what is now known as the “culture of rape” occurring within our country, wherein victims of rape are persecuted for supposedly causing the rape to occur (like by wearing provocative clothing, perpetrators claiming the victim was “asking for it,” allowing them to go ahead and give it to them. I was watching the Melissa Harris-Perry program yesterday, and one of the female guests, while discussing this subject, suggested that if men and boys had such low impulse control, then they should perhaps relinquish control of the country before they blow it up, or possibly create a major financial crisis (that would never happen). I mean really guys. What is this, the Middle East? Do we need our ladies to wear the chādor in order to keep it in our pants?) rather than the perpetrators, a phenomena I find personally perplexing, revolting, and extremely difficult to understand.
   Perhaps I am nieve and this “culture” has always been in place and is only now being brought to light, but at least it is being brought to light, and perpetrators and enablers are being prosecuted, victims (some of which have committed suicide due to the bullying and humiliation they had received after their rapes) are being reinforced and protected, school administrations that allow this type of behavior to flourish are being sued and brought to justice (hopefully).
   But I digress.
   Jessica also had objections to the church's condemnations of premarital sex and homosexuality. When she was fifteen her friends at church reacted negatively to a role she had on “Chicago Hope,” in which her character had gonorrhea, making her lose faith in the church, although she says she still believes in God.
   “I have my own spiritual thing, but am not part of an organized religion. I think religion is very special and individual to each person.”
   Hear, hear!
   Jessica is frightened of flying birds. Many are. They’re devious creatures, the last remnants of the dinosaurs, and need to be put down.
   Anyway, when Jessica graduated from Claremont High School at sixteen, she studied acting with actors  William H. Macy and his wife, Felicity Huffman, at the Atlantic Theater Company, in New York.
   And she continued working. In 1999 she appeared with genuinely disturbed person and alien killer, Randy Quiad in “P.U.N.K.S.,” with our lovely friend Drew Barrymore in “Never Been Kissed,” with Seth Green in “Idel Hands,” and a starring role in 2000s “Paranoid,” a film I’m positive her Catholic friends wouldn’t approve of.
   Jessica was working pretty regularly, the dream of most young actors and actresses, but in 2000 she got what is considered her biggest break yet. “Titanic” director James Cameron chose Jessica out of 1,200 candidates for the role of the genetically-engineered super-soldier, Max Guevara, on the Fox sci-fi television series “Dark Angel,” which Cameron co-created.
   “It's probably the most influential thing that I've ever had. Thank god for “Dark Angel.” Getting a blessing by James Cameron to star in his first television show. Really the first thing he did after “Titanic” was hire me."
   Here’s a tribute clip:
   This is what Jessica had to say about men:
   “Men are much bigger divas than women. When I used to do the action scenes in ‘Dark Angel’ I would have to play it rough. If you hit an actress accidentally, she would usually take it on the chin and say, "Don't do that again." But with the guys, they would put ice on it, take a 20-minute break and ask for X-rays. It was unbelievable. I would tell them, "Come on, man, get over it." That's actors for you.”
   The show ran for two seasons until 2002, earning her critical acclaim as well as a Golden Globe nomination. She received the Teen Choice Award for Choice Actress and Saturn Award for Best Actress for her work on the show as well.
   One of her co-stars on “Dark Angel,” was actor Michael Weatherly, who was also 12 years older than her. They had a relationship, getting engaged on her birthday in 2001. In August 2003, Jessica and Michael announced that they'd ended their relationship.
   She said, "I have this thing for older men. They've been around and know so much," referencing  Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, and Michael Caine.
   I’m older.
   Jessica turned her attention to her work,  Harley Davidson motorcycles, golf, and tattoos (she has the Sankskrit word for "lotus" tattooed on the inside of her wrist, and a daisy with a ladybug on it on the back of her neck... as do I... amazing coincidence if you ask me).
   She appeared as a dancer in her next two films, 2003‘s “Honey,” and 2005‘s “Sin City,” the first time she worked with director Robert Rodriguez.
   Here’s a sample of her skills:
   She likes older Bruce Willis in that one.
   That year she also played a genuine superhero (not one of those fake ones), Susan Storm, in “Fantastic Four.”
   While filming that movie she met a guy, Cash (his real name) Warren, a member of the production crew and future producer. They started dating.
   Here she is talking about him and other things to Jay Leno, the nosey son of a bitch:
   She and Cash got engaged in December of 2007, and married in a very private ceremony on May 19th, 2008. They have two children, Haven Garner Warren & Honor Marie Warren.
   Jessica made a lot of movies in 2005, using all of that swimming experience in “Into the Blue.”
   Here’s clip of her swimming around in a bikini:
   Okay, I admit Jessica is very pretty... for a girl. But this is ridiculous: “In 2001, Alba was ranked No. 1 on Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list. She said that "I have to go to certain lengths to use sexuality to my advantage, while guiding people to thinking the way I want them to." In 2005, Alba was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, and also appeared in the magazine's 100 Most Beautiful list in 2007. In 2002, Alba was voted as the fifth Sexiest Female Star for 2002 in a Hollywood.com poll, No.4 in the Top 10 Sci-Fi Babes, No.6 in FHM's Sexiest Girls for their poll, and ranked at No.12 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women in the World" 2002 edition. In 2005, Alba was ranked at No.5 on the Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list. In 2006, Alba ranked No.3 on E! Television's 101 Sexiest Celebrity Bodies. In 2006 readers of AskMen.com voted Alba No. 1 on 99 Most Desirable Women, while in 2007, Maxim Magazine placed Alba on the number 2 spot of their "Top 100" Both GQ and In Style had Alba on their June 2008 covers,  and in May, after eight million votes, FHM (UK and USA editions) named Alba the winner as "2007's Sexiest Woman in the World".  Alba has been regarded as one of the world's most attractive women, being named to Maxim's Hot 100 in 2008. In 2007, Alba was ranked in at No.1 in FHM's Sexiest Girls of 2007 poll, in the magazine's Latvian edition. Alba was ranked No.4 on Empire Magazine's 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in 2007. In 2006 and 2007, Alba was voted No.1 as the most sexy woman in the world by the Norwegian FHM. Alba appeared in the 2009 Campari calendar. Campari printed 9,999 copies of the calendar featuring photos of Alba posing sexually in swimsuits, and high heels. In 2008, Alba was ranked No.34 on Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list, was ranked No.2 on Wizard magazine's "Sexiest Women of TV" list, and was named in GQ Magazine one of the 25 Sexiest Women in film of all time.  Alba is the only woman who has made the Maxim Magazine Hot 100 list in all the years it was published; from 2000 to 2012. She appeared on Maxim's 2011 Hot 100 list, finishing 21. She was named one of the "100 Hottest Women of All-Time" by Men's Health. People named her one of 2012 most Beautiful at Every Age.” -Wikipedia
   This kind of thing could go to a girl’s head after a while.
   And she doesn’t do nude,  maintaining a strict no-nudity clause in her contracts. "I don't do nudity. I just don't. Maybe that makes me a bad actress. Maybe I won't get hired in some things. But I have too much anxiety." For the shower scene in “Machete,” she was wearing underwear, which was digitally removed afterwards.
   In 2006 Jessica sued Playboy magazine for using her picture on it’s cover without her permission. She thought that people like me would think there were nude pictures of her inside and buy the magazine, thereby making a lot of money for Playboy at her expense. It took a personal apology from Playboy owner Hugh Hefner, and a couple of donations to charities that Jessica supported for her to drop the suit.
   Work, work, work. Five films in 2007 including a Sue Storm reprisal “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Meet Bill,” with Aaron Eckhart and Elizabeth Banks, “The Ten,” with Paul Rudd and Winona Ryder, “Awake,” with Hayden Christensen, and “Good Luck Chuck,” with Dane Cook, wherein Jessica gets to play with penguins.
   In this film Jessica displayed her ability to bend her thumb backwards to a 90 degree angle, a talent that I have possessed all of my life. Up until I was watching this film on TV (again) a few days ago I had never seen anyone do this before, and it wasn’t a CGI trick. She could really do it (picture above).
   Wikipedia tells us: “There is a variation in the angle between the first, second phalanges of the thumb of humans, varying between 0° and almost 90° when the thumb is extended in a "thumbs-up". It has been suggested that the variation is an autosomal recessive trait, called a "Hitchhiker's thumb", with homozygous carriers having an angle close to 90°. However this has been disputed, as the variation in thumb angle is continuous and shows little evidence of the bi-modality seen in recessive traits.
   Well, that explains everything, now doesn’t it.
   Here’s a clip from “Good Luck Chuck,” in which Jessica displays her ability to do physical comedy:
   “I chipped my front tooth doing a kiss with Dane [Cook] and he chipped his bottom tooth. We were doing this comedic 'Mr and Mrs Smith' love scene, and we were slamming into walls and breaking things and tumbling over couches and stuff. At one point, he slammed my head into a picture frame and, while my head was smacking into the wall and breaking the picture, his teeth slammed into my teeth. Now I have a bond on my tooth and when I take it off I look like Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber.” I look really silly. I guess I'd be perfect for a sequel. I can definitely take the bond off of my tooth and throw people off a bit. I get to take this thing off and be somebody else for a little while. It's like a disguise.”
   In 2008 she took a break and made only two movies, learning how to play the violin for the horror flick, “The Eye,” and “The Love Guru,” with Michael Myers (taking a break from the “Halloween,” franchise).
   Jessica has also appeared in “Valentine’s Day,” with like everybody else, “Machete,” another Robert Rodriguez vehicle starring his long time buddy, character actor Danny Trejo (I happen to know his sister), and 2010s “Little Fockers,” which reunited her with “Machete” co-star Robert De Niro. Here’s a clip:
   Upcoming this year are the Rodriguez sequels “Machete Kills,” and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
   She’s done a whole bunch of other stuff as well, like annoy people in Oklahoma City with shark posters (they have a big shark problem in Oklahoma City), being an ambassador for the 1Goal movement to provide education to children in Africa, and founding "The Honest Company," which makes chemical-free products, like diapers.
   So she certainly knows how to use her time wisely (she makes me tired by just writing about her).
   And all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish Jessica and her family continued good health and fortune, and a very happy birthday!
   Happy Birthday Jessica!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Guns, and Who the Republicans Really Work For

Shame On You

Obama Speaks On Gun Control After Vote Fails

   Last January, at the beginning of the present term of Congress the Senate majority led by Harry Reid of Nevada had the opportunity to change the rules regarding what is known as the filibuster, a procedure not mentioned in the Constitution which allowed a single member, or a small group of senators to put a hold on upcoming measures and presidential nominees indefinitely, a procedure the Republican minority had used on a record number of occasions during the last term to block important legislation that the President or the Majority had proposed, which effectively left the legislative body impotent, unable to pass anything at all in most cases (the passage of  Obamacare in 2009 being a rare exception).
   They also had the opportunity to change how many votes it was required to pass legislation... from the present 60 supermajority vote, to a simple majority, requiring just 51. Considering the Democrats had gained seats in the November election, for a total of 55, to the Republicans 45, chances of advancing the democratic and Presidential agenda would have been assured.  
   Did Reid and the Democrats take that opportunity?  Of course not! That would have taken a measure of courage, and, I cynically say, any legislation passed would have to be owned by the democrats, legislation with their name on it, that they would be responsible for. That's way to scary for elected officials who above all wish to be reelected, and who were much more comfortable doing nothing at all, which is relatively safe, leaving open the option of blaming the other party for obstructing all their hard fought for efforts.  
   Oh, they changed the rules a little bit, making it a little bit harder for a single senator, or small group to filibuster, but they left the supermajority rules in place, thereby giving the Senate minority undo, and unearned (democrats won the election after all, something Senator Reid must have forgotten) power over the majority.
   To be fair if all that was required were a majority vote to pass legislation the minority party, in this case the Republicans, would have the opportunity to attach amendments to bills that countered the larger purpose of the original legislation. Huuh? Yeah, I know, it's complicated. It doesn't need to be, but it is. Take the gun control background check legislation for gun purchases at gun shows and online that was defeated Wednesday in a 54 to 46 vote (Harry Reid supported the measure, but voted against it in order to preserve the right to bring it back up at a later time). If only a majority were needed to pass an amendment, a host of measures opposed by gun control advocates would have garnered enough support to pass, such as the right to carry a concealed weapon, which urban lawmakers stridently oppose and which could have doomed the entire gun control bill. The concealed carry measure scored 57 yes votes. Why did it score 57 yes votes of which 12 must have been democratic? Probably it was an effort to appease republicans and get some needed republican votes in order to pass the larger background check bill.
   Another problem peculiar to the Senate is in the way some states with low populations garner as much representation as those with larger populations, a situation that our founding fathers should have forseen considering the differences in population within the 13 colonies (for instance Tennessee had an estimated population of just 10,000 in 1780, compared to 538,000 in Virginia).    
   Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution stipulates  "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote."
   Jonathan Cohen and Eric Kingsbury of New Republic:
   “If you assume, for sake of argument, each senator represents half of his or her state’s population, then senators voting for the bill represented about 194 million people, while the senators voting against the bill represented about 118 million people. That’s getting close to a two-thirds majority in favor of the measure.”
   Ian Millhiser and Adam Peck of ThinkProgress continue:
   "To put this in perspective, Wyoming Sens. Mike Enzi (R) and John Barrasso (R) both voted against the gun safety provision. Together, they represent a little more than half a million people. California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D) both voted for gun safety. They represent over 38 million Americans. In other words, a voter in Wyoming enjoys 66 times as much representation in the Senate as a voter in California.
   As the least populous state, Wyoming makes out like bandits when it comes to Senate representation, but they are far from alone in enjoying such a windfall. A voter in Idaho (population 1,595,728) counts as almost 24 Californians. A voter in Nebraska (population 1,845,525) counts as nearly 21 Californians. And a voter in North Dakota (population 699,628) counts as more than 54 Californians. Indeed, if you add up the combined populations of Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama, that still adds up to over 3 million fewer people than live in the state of California. That also adds up to 26 senators, all of whom opposed background checks [see the graphic above]."
   That's how a bill in the United States Senate which enjoys the support of 90% of the American population, including 8 out of 10 gun owners, is procedurally defeated.
   But why did those 46 senators, including 4 democrats, vote no?
   Money, and the power associated with it.
   The NRA (National Rifle Association) had lobbied aggressively against the proposal. Among other efforts, they spent $500,00 in one day, the day the Senate voted on the bill -- on ads calling the proposal "Obama's gun ban," according to the New York Times. They and their minions, which includes the bought and paid for senators, spread outright lies about the bill, such as that it established a national registry of gun owners, which the bill expressly forbade. The lies were so egregious that democrats overcame their typical polictical correctness, and called them for what they were, outright lies, including the president.
   Good for them.
   If 8 out of 10 gun owners supported the bill, gun owners that supposedly were represented by the NRA, why did the NRA oppose it?
   Good question? I'm glad you asked.
   It's because the NRA is actually a trade organization that represents gun manufacturers, not the actual members. (Adolphus Busch IV, heir to the Busch family brewing fortune, resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association on Thursday, writing in a letter to NRA President David Keene, "I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable.") That's one reason the answer to every problem the NRA faces in the light of continuing tragedies like Sandy Hook is more guns.
   More guns, more guns, more guns.
   This gun mania is further fueled by the right-wing media which is forever pro business over individual rights (such as the right to stay alive in the face of gun violence), 2nd Amendment maniacs who hoard guns in compensation for their diminutive reproductive organs, and politicians who receive campaign donations (legalized bribery) from the NRA, or who face threats of election retribution by the NRA if said politicians oppose NRA backed legislation. Such is the power of gun manufacturers over the United State's elected officials, officials who were elected to represent their constituents rather than business interests.
   But why should that surprise anyone? Wall Street interests, defense contractors and manufacturers, the banking industry, and a host of other entities all enjoy the same unduly influence over our government, including the White House.
   Those senators who voted no offered excuses like these:
   “It’s dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment,” said Senator Mark Begichof of Alaska, a Democrat up for re-election next year. “Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up. That’s not enough.”
   Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) claimed the bill would lead to the creation of a national database of gun owners. Senators Manchin and Toomey, who introduced the bill, have repeatedly pointed out that their legislation explicitly barred a federal registry and would impose a harsh penalty on any official who tried to create one.
   "In my opinion, adopting mandatory federal government background checks for purely private transactions between law-abiding citizens, puts us inexorably on the path to a push for a federal registry," he said.
   The old "slippery slope" routine. As we've learned from our Baloney Detection Kit ( http://joycestake.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-baloney-detection-kit-dr-shermers.html )  tenet # 17:
   "Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle* - unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile). "If we allow same sex marriage to become the law of the land, then what's to stop marriage between men and goats?"
   For my own part I have nothing against interspecies marriage. To each his own.
   Here's another: "If we legalize marijuana, then everybody will become heroin addicts."
   Of course it remains my contention that the majority of Republicans in Congress suffer from sociopathology. What's that? Here's one diffinition:
   Noun - Psychiatry. a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. -Antisocial personality disorder Wikipedia
   The action of these 46 no voting senators do nothing to dispel my contention.
   What is in full display here is a corrupt, unresponsive Senate. If the bill had passed and sent to the House of Representatives most likely it would have been killed there, or watered down to the point that it might as well hadn't been passed. Why? Because Republicans control the House. It's as simple as that.
   Republicans have no excuses to fall back on regarding this. They can't blame the Democrats for inaction, or the President to lead... it's all on them.

    It's a shame isn't it? And I'm not the only one to thinks so. My girlfriend thinks it's a shame as well. So do these people:

Mayor Bloomberg, co-chair, Mayors Against Illegal Guns: “Today’s vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington. More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby. Democrats – who are so quick to blame Republicans for our broken gun laws – could not stand united. And Republicans – who are so quick to blame Democrats for not being tough enough on crime – handed criminals a huge victory, by preserving their ability to buy guns illegally at gun shows and online and keeping the illegal trafficking market well-fed. Senators Manchin and Toomey – as well as Majority Leader Reid and Senators Schumer, Kirk, Collins, McCain and others – deserve real credit for coming together around a compromise bill that struck a fair balance, and President Obama and Vice-President Biden deserve credit for their leadership since the Sandy Hook massacre. But even with some bi-partisan support, a common-sense public safety reform died in the U.S. Senate at the hands of those who are more interested in attempting to protect their own political careers – or some false sense of ideological purity – than protecting the lives of innocent Americans. The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90 percent of Americans – and in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi: “Today’s vote in the Senate is disappointing to the American people and devastating to the families, friends, and loved ones of victims of gun violence across our country. A minority of Senators failed to summon the courage to do what’s right on behalf of the safety and security of our children and families.  Their shameful votes prevented commonsense steps to expand background checks and keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands.  Their indefensible actions broke our promise to every community struck by gun violence. In the words of the Sandy Hook promise, ‘Our hearts are broken, our spirit is not.’  With perseverance and determination, we hope the Senate brings strong legislation back up for consideration and acts to protect our schools, homes, and neighborhoods.  That is the least we can do to honor the memory of the children of Newtown, the people of Tucson, and all of the Americans lost to the scourge of gun violence.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten: “Make no mistake — the NRA and the gun manufacturers won out today over the life, liberty and happiness of our children, families and communities. A government by the people and for the people must serve the American people and not the gun lobby. The tragic question facing us now is how many gun deaths will it take before Congress lives up to its basic responsibility to protect and serve the American people? Twenty-six children and teachers gunned down in Newtown, Conn. Thirty-two students and faculty killed at Virginia Tech. U.S. Rep. Gabby Gifford shot outside a supermarket. Thirteen students and educators brutally murdered at Columbine High School. Twelve people gunned down in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Nearly 3,500 Americans killed by guns since Dec. 14—more than 50 of them children. The time for action is now. We applaud Sens. Manchin, Toomey, Feinstein, Blumenthal, Schumer, Kirk and Lautenberg for their leadership, as well as the other senators who voted for commonsense gun safety legislation today. AFT members admire their courage for standing up and doing what is right for our children and families.”

And lastly an op-ed by former Representative Gabby Giffords of Arizona, a victim of gun violence:

A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours.

I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.

They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.

They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.

This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.

Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

Stephen Colbert on Gun Control Block

Obama Taking Action On Background Checks After Senate Rejects Measure

* Tenet # 15.  Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (or a false dichotomy). "If you don't love this country, you hate it." "Your either for us or against us," which George B. Bush used to his advantage to further his plans to attack Iraq. Of course the argument makes no sense since there are a wide range of other possibilities, such as "I am not necessarily against you, but there are other ways to handle this problem other than the one you propose."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Ashley Judd!

Ashley Addresses Ohio delegates to Democratic National Convention September 4th 2012

Picture Legend
1. Ms Ashley
2. Ashley as a small, female infant. You can just tell she's going to turn into a real "Wildcat" later on (Sorry, I couldn't stop myself)
3. With Mama and sis
4. As Ensign Robin Lefler on STNG, her first acting job in front of the camera where had to kiss that brat Wesley, the lucky bastard
5. In "Ruby in Paradise" Gets the lead part in her 2nd film
6. In "Heat,"... the movie, I'm not saying she's... never mind
7. As Norma Jean in "Norma Jean & Marilyn"
8. "Kiss the Girls" First time with Morgan Freeman
9. In Double Jeopardy" with Tommy Lee Jones
10. Dancing with Salma Hayek in "Frida"
11. In "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" playing two roles, both of them the same character (Huuh?).
12. In "High Crimes" with that crazy Morgan Freeman again
13. About to do something she may later regret in "Bug," directed by William (Billy Boy) Friedkin, of "The Exorcist" fame
14. Standing in the rain in "Helen"
15. With Dwight in "Tooth Fairy," based on a true story I'm told
16. Kicking spy ass in "Missing"
17. Posing at the premier of "Olympus Has Fallen"
18. Hockey enthusiast
19. Basketball enthusiast
20. Professional Sack Race enthusiast
21. "DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] has one of the very highest fertility, child and maternal mortality rates in world. We must help communities break cycles of poverty and violence or else these girls will soon be rape victims (if they aren't already) and/or mothers."
22. Bono getting some sugar
23. Kentucky Wildcat mascot "Scratch" getting some
24. Mira Sorvino getting some
25. Archbishop Desmond Tutu getting some
26. Freaking Morgan Freeman again... and you know what he's getting... yeah, some
27. Ashley and Buttercup (or Buttermilk, depending on what source is used. Must be one of those southern names)
28. Lovely Ashley Judd

   It is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses, and political and human rights activists, Ms Ashley Judd!
   Usually when we do these birthday celebrations I go on and on about that person's life and professional and personal history, or story, whichever you prefer. Because Ashley is the kind and gracious person that she is, she has helped out by providing that information for me via her official website, which can be found right here:
   I just wish other birthday celebrants would be as considerate as Ashley has been. It would certainly save me a lot of work.
   Here's what her website has to say (this must have been written some time ago and some aspects are not current. I'll attempt to bring you up to date later):

   Ashley Tyler Judd [named after Ashland, Kentucky], nee Ciminella, is an at least 10th generation Eastern Kentuckian. She lives in Tennessee and Kentucky, and loves spending time in Scotland with her family. She is also a direct descendent of Pilgrim mother and father Mary and William Brewster, who, after years of religious persecution helped organize and then sailed on the Mayflower.
   A celebrated and acclaimed actor, she has starred in 20 films, both box office hits and independent treasures, and on Broadway. She is presently starring in Missing, a new drama for ABC that will premiere in 2012. Set in Europe, Missing is about Becca Winstone, a dedicated mother who walked away from a dangerous career in the CIA, only to be drawn back into that world when her only child mysteriously disappears. It is a role in which Judd’s fans will love her, that of a strong, vulnerable, smart, determined, and empathetic American women. Her many film titles include, Ruby in Paradise, her debut, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury prize, Double Jeopardy, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and De-Lovely. She has focused on meaningful roles in critically acclaimed indies in recent years, turning in unforgettable performances in Come Early Morning and Bug. Her work also includes family favorites, such as Simon Birch and the recent smash, Tooth Fairy. She just wrapped Flypaper, a bank heist drama/comedy, with a gifted ensemble cast that includes Patrick Dempsy, Tim Blake Nelson, Matt Ryan, and Jeffery Tambour. On Broadway, she has played the role of Madge in the Pulitzer prize winning play, Picnic, and the iconic Maggie the Cat, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She has been nominated for Golden Globes and Emmys, and has won a variety of critical awards. She is currently developing projects which deal with themes about which she is passionate, such as mountain top removal coal mining and the role of faith and spiritual practice in a troubled world.
   Ashley is a dedicated humanitarian. Her work as an advocate and activist dates to her undergraduate years at the University of Kentucky. At present, she serves on the Board of Directors of Population Services International, Defenders of Wildlife, and Shaker Village. She has traveled, literally, around the world, visiting grassroots programs that focus on poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and social justice. Entrusted with the sacred stories shared with her by the vulnerable, and often exploited yet remarkably resilient populations to whom she has dedicated much of her life, Ashley then speaks truth to power, carrying the message of empowerment and equality to heads of state, donors, the private sector, and the media. A small sampling of her advocacy work includes: Giving the keynote address on the modern slave trade to the 2008 General Assembly of the United Nations, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the urgent need to prevent the spread of HIV to girls and women, speaking to the National Press Club, appearing on major news programs, and filming 3 documentaries seen by over a billion people worldwide. She has served as an expert panelist/moderator at conferences such as the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Deliver Conference, the International AIDS conference, and the Global Business Coalition to stop HIV, TB, and Malaria, and the National Press Club.
   Additionally, she actively supports a number of organizations, ranging from Women for Women International, Women Thrive Worldwide, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Tennessee Refugee and Immigration Reform Committee. Her 2010 advocacy includes the DREAM Act, International Violence Against Women Act, the anti FGM bill, amongst others.
   A sought after public speaker, Ashley addressed the National Press Club 9 June 2010, this time regarding the rape of Appalachia, mountain top removal coal mining. In the past month, her Op Eds on subjects ranging from MTR to the urgent need for modern family planning in the developing world have been published in paper and electronic media.
   Ashley is married to Dario Franchitti, a 2 time Indy Racing League and 2 time Indy 500 champion. The couple, in addition to their farm in Tennessee, make their home in Franchitti’s native Scotland. They have a variety of beloved pets, the best known of whom are perhaps their dogs, Buttermilk and Shug, who have often been photographed with the couple.
   Ashley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She completed a major in French, and minors in Anthropology, Art History, Theater, and Women’s Studies. She also graduated from UK’s Honor’s Program. In 2009, she fulfilled her dream of going to graduate school. The Thursday prior to her husband winning the Indy 500 again, she graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with an MPA. Amongst other achievements at Harvard, she was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice.
   In 2006, Ashley attended an intensive in patient treatment program at Shades of Hope to begin to meaningfully heal from unresolved childhood grief that manifests as depression and codependency. She rejoices in a recovering way of life and sharing her experience, strength, and hope. “I had no idea there was help for someone like me, without an identifiable addiction or dependency. It is thus very important to me to speak without shame and stigma about depression, codependency and adult child issues, because I have now been taught we are only as sick as our secrets. Because someone carried the message of recovery to me, and helped me begin to learn about family systems and how affected I was by other people’s addictions of various kinds, I have learned that I, too, can recover! Who knew?! It is a wonderful, miraculous thing!”    
   Although Shades of Hope specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, the Center can be an appropriate [outlet] for those without disordered eating patterns.
   Raised protestant and grounded in an inclusive Christian faith that honors and respects all backgrounds, Ashley has a strong spiritual practice that includes Passage Meditation.  Her past times include listening to bluegrass music, playing running charades, hiking, supporting her husband’s racing, cooking (especially traditional, regional southern food) gardening (she planted 2 bio diverse, heirloom orchards in 2008) and reading.

   Ashley and I have a great deal in common besides being stupendously good looking. We both like to read for instance. That's one thing. I have a garden too. I like to cook. Made some spaghetti yesterday in fact. Gonna make me a ham and cheese sandwich later tonight. I support my girlfriend's crochet. Hiking I can do without. Shark wrangling on the other hand is much more to my liking, and I prefer Twister to Charades... other than that we could be twins.
   As a matter of fact Ashley was born within walking distance of where I was living when I was attending what was then called Junior High School. She was born in Granada Hills, California, and I lived down the street in Northridge. A true southern girl, Granada Hills is actually further south on the globe than where she lives now in Tennessee.
   Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Granada Hills in 1959. Isn't that interesting (notice I haven't used a question mark).
   I'll tell you this about Ashley... she was born at a very early age. That I know for damn sure.
   Her mom spirited Ashley away from California in 1973 to her native Kentucky, where Ashley would spend the majority of her childhood.
   Her mom, Naomi, by the way became a big time country music star during the 1980's, along with Ashley's older half sister, Wynonna. They were known, oddly enough, as The Judds,  with 23 hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles (now Hot Country Songs) charts, including 14 number ones. That's pretty cool.
   It's said that Ashley attended 12 schools before college.  
   Big deal. I ditched 58 days out of a 90 day semester in the 11th grade and still passed.
   As most girls do, she tried out modeling in Japan briefly while ditching school. She attended the University of Kentucky in Kentucky, majoring in French, and minoring in anthropology, art history, theater and women's studies.
   I myself have studied women.
   I'm still doing that.
   But this isn't about me, now is it? Let's get back on track shall we.
   Ashley spent a semester studying in France as part of her major and is fluent in that language.
   She left college a few credits shy of graduating in 1990, when she decided to drive 1,793.5 miles from Memphis cross-country to pursue an acting career here in Los Angeles. She was 22 at the time.
   While studying the Sanford Meisner technique of acting at the Playhouse West, in Los Angeles, Ashley worked as a waitress at the Ivy restaurant at 113 N Robertson Blvd, right next to Ceders Sinai Medical Center where I donate blood on occasion, and where Patrick Stewart (Capt Picard) loiters late at night.
   They can't get rid of him.
   After about a year or so she got her first work as a professional actress on my favorite television show, "Star Trek, the Next Generation." She was in two episodes, "Darmok," about the Enterprise encountering some aliens with speech impediments, and "The Game," concerning addiction. Off hand I don't remember the first episode, and in it's description nothing is mentioned of her character (at least on Wikipedia), but I do remember "The Game," and her character, although I didn't realize it was Ashley when it first aired or since. I'll eventually see them both again, and then I'll say to myself, "Oh yes... That's Ashley Judd... what a cutie (that's just the way I am)!"
   She also secured a recurring role in the television series "Sisters," which starred Swoosie Kurtz and Sela Ward, among others. She also got a small role in her first feature film, "Kuffs," staring Christian Slater. She turned down a larger role because that would have required some nudity. "My mother worked too hard for me to take my clothes off in my first movie," she famously said.    
   Next, Sweet Pea (one of her nicknames) worked for and got the lead (not just the female lead, but the lead) role in her second feature film, "Ruby in Paradise," a character study, which is just the most perfectest kind of movie for an actress who just starting out... if it works.
   It did. Ashley was a hit. It won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival. Roger Ebert picked it as one of his Top Ten Films for the year. It also won an Independent Spirit Award for Ash (another nickname) as Best Female Lead, and it was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Ashley won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress, and was nominated for both the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.
   Not too shabby for a girl who used to make ten bucks a day cleaning The Judds tour bus.
   And the rest is pretty much history (the photo montage above lists in chronological order some of my favorite films that Ashley has appeared in), or at least the history that Ashley's website provides, except for a couple of more things.
   I think I first became aware of Ashley in Michael Mann's classic crime drama, "Heat," which I first saw while traveling up north near Edwards Air Force Base with my lovely girlfriend Julie, who I still love very, very much (she may read this). She played Val Kilmer's girlfriend, and I said to myself, "Boy, she looks familiar." I don't know why. I haven't seen Ruby. Maybe it was the STNG role, but probably not. However, I soon found her again starring in movies like "Kiss the Girls," and "Double  Jeopardy," (she replaced Jodie Foster for the part) and by then it was like she had always been around.
   Anyway, her ex-husband has won  three Indianapolis 500 races now, the only person to do so. And I say ex because the couple decided to separate last January after eleven years of marriage. They had no children, Ashley saying "It's unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries."
   Ashley turned down the role of Catwoman in  2004's "Catwoman"  so she could star as "Maggie" in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" on Broadway. A very good call in and of itself. Besides the role certainly didn't do Halle Berry any good.
   Ash (I like to call her Ash... and Sweet Pea) is an etymologist, which is a person who studies the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. As a sort of writer I should be interested in that too, but who has the time? I certainly don't.
   Ashley and I like to bake chocolate chip cookies as a means to relieve stress, the difference between me and her being I actually eat them.
   And one more thing.
   Check out this clip produced by our good friend Cenk Uygur  of The Young Turks:
   Yes, our lovely Ashley was considering stepping into the fray, hoping to unseat the  House Minority Leader, Mitch "Turtle Boy" McConnell, who once said that the Republicans priority must be to deny President Obama a second term in office (how's that working out for ya Mitch?), not to run the country more efficiently or better the lives of the American people (which, by the way includes his own constituents) but to pursue purely partisan politics.
   Ashley won't say this (at least in public), but I have no problem... Mitch McConnell is a slimy, bought and paid for, asshole, and I'm being reserved and displaying great restraint when I say this.
   But I don't wish to spoil Ashley's birthday celebration by mentioning slimy assholes like Mitch, other than to point out this example of McConnell's slimy assholishness:
   Remember, Ashley hadn't even made the decision to run yet, but McConnell and his minions were so frightened by sweet little Ashley that they thought they had to resort to these slimy assholish tactics.
   Breaking news, Mitch McConnell votes NO on the gun background check bill voted down in the Senate Wednesday, thereby keeping it easy for criminals and the mentally ill, like Mitch McConnell, to get guns. The country as a whole is pretty pissed off that this bill failed, but does Mitch care? Why no, of course not, or else he would have voted for it, not against it. Here's his Facebook responce to the bill's defeat:
   What a slimy asshole! No wonder he has one of the lowest approval ratings in Congress. Check out why the bombing in Boston is our own fault:
   I think Ashley would have had a good chance of winning if she had chosen to run, but she decided not to, and I respect her decision. Last month she issued this statement which was posted on her website:

Thank You

   Over the past several months, I’ve been deeply moved by the resiliency, grace, and spirit of the many Kentuckians I’ve been honored to encounter as I’ve traveled our great state. After hearing your voices and stories – your dreams for your families and the many hurts you’ve experienced – it’s profoundly clear Kentucky needs leaders in Washington who will fight for your interests. And it’s time Kentucky had an alternative to the cynical politics and self-serving tactics of Mitch McConnell.
   It would be the greatest honor of my life to be entrusted as a public servant to our beloved Kentucky. Perhaps someday I will be. However, with the help of my pastors and mentors, I have thoughtfully and prayerfully concluded that I won’t run for the United States Senate at this time.
   I have never been intimidated by the prospect of serving Kentucky – and I remain unafraid of the Washington insider political machine that has controlled this Senate seat for three decades.
   My chief concern in reaching this decision has only been the possibility that it disappoints folks. I’ve been blown away by the incredible encouragement, support, and confidence I’ve received, and I thank everyone who has reached out from our 120 counties and around our nation to offer their talents and time. I am humbled by the many supporters who have shown they are ready to work, organize, fight, and pray for a just economic future for Kentucky. I am especially grateful to four generations of my family for their endless understanding for my passion for service. Thanks Mom, for wanting to turn the carport into a field office – and for working on campaign slogans. And thanks, Dad, for being such a good listener at kitchen cabinet meetings, and making sure I was always clear on the “next action steps!”
   While I will not be taking to the campaign trail at this time, I continue to be energized by so many unforgettable declarations from Kentuckians, which have kept me awake many nights:

"I want business to come to Kentucky, not because my children are the cheapest labor they can find, but because they are the most educated work force they can find."

"It’s finally Kentucky’s turn to lead the nation."

"We can create a just economic transition, but not with a Senator whose tenure has seen 1% of population go from controlling 3% of the wealth to 27% of the wealth."

"We have so much hope, and we need a leader whose vision for us and our children is as big as our potential."

   I am more resolved than ever that this kind of politics as usual – and the egregious abuses that have become all too common in the public space – must end. It will be my pleasure to support the eventual candidate with all my energy. That’s what it will take from each of us to return this Senate seat to those to whom it rightfully belongs: the people of Kentucky.
   Thank you again for your kindnesses and support. It has moved and blessed me.

   I'm kind of glad that Ashley will not now have to soil herself in the mud that makes up the political world that is Washington D.C.
   But she would have made a hell of a senator. With her in the Senate, along with the likes of Barbara Boxer and Liz Warren, well it would have given a great big Hope Shot right up my wazoo (and my wazoo could surely use it right now).
   Anyway, all of us here at Joyce's Take love Ashley, and wish her and her friends and family continued good fortune and health, and of course, a very happy birthday.
   Happy Birthday Ashley!

Ashley on Press Pass discusses child marriage, and other issues with David Gregory