OMG. The Mormons want women to vote

Why women shouldn’t be “burdened” with the vote: 1915
[Via Boing Boing]


This 1915 Boston Journal ad warning against the dangers of women’s suffrage lays all manner of dangers at the feet of “burdening” women with the vote, including increased taxes and divorce. It warns that extending the vote to women is a joint plot of the anarchist Industrial Workers of the World, socialists, and Mormons. Good to know that we’ve come so far in our political rhetoric.

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So, women’s suffrage was a socialist plot. And the anarchists and feminists were too. All on the left.

Then the Mormons? They used to be favorite boogeymen for people on the right.

Some things have really changed.

Read this and see real human determination

Sen. Gillibrand, Rep. Wasserman Schultz Describe Giffords Opening Her Eyes

She did more than just open her eyers. She responded to verbal command to touch things. She gave her husband a hug.

To be in the room, with their friend, when that happened. Even the doctors recognized how important having her friends and family were:

And we went out, Dr. Lemole, who is the one that’s been on TV and has been so good about explaining everything, he literally said to us, you know, I’ve discounted — on TV, I’ve discounted emotion being — and friendship and family — really, I’ve sort of discounted that as meaningless out loud. He said, I just witnessed the impact of friendship and what you guys — he said, you did this here today.

Another important symbolic gesture for the State of the Union

Instead of sitting on opposite sides of the House chamber, Mark Udall suggests that during the State of the Union speech , Republicans and Democrats sit together, thus demonstrating the collegiality and civility that should be present, even when disagreements exist..

This would be pretty classy and, like reading the Constitution, a reminder of our common interests and goals. Udall states:

On the night of the State of the Union address, we are asking others to join us – House and Senate members from both parties – to cross the aisle and sit together. We hope that as the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans will reflect the interspersed character of America itself. Perhaps by sitting with each other for one night we will begin to rekindle that common spark that brought us here from 50 different states and widely diverging backgrounds to serve the public good.

I hope the political leadership of both parties initiates this as I think it would be very healing.

Not only does blood libel ratchet up the explosive rhetoric, but her logic is internally inconsistent

argument by Jules Minus

The Caucus: Palin Calls Criticism ‘Blood Libel’
[Via NYT > NYTimes.com Home]

Sarah Palin used an emotionally laden phrase in a video denunciation of journalists and pundits who blamed political rhetoric for the shootings.

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:Let’s start off with this, a comment by Palin that tries to support the proposition that there is no connection between violence and hatred and the works of pundit, journalists or politicians:

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

That proposition may be true but her rhetoric is quite wrong. Of course, the vast majority of what has been written by journalists, pundits and leaders has been for leaders to tone down the rhetoric because words can have consequences. When specific people are mentioned, it has been the talk show hosts, the pundits and the political leaders who are examined. Not all the citizens of the state, the people who listen to talk radio,, not the people who vote or any of the other examples she discusses. This is a classic straw man argument. It misrepresents an opponent’s position. Classic logical fallacy.

But, here is the inconsistent part . She first states that the incident bears no connection to the heated vitriol heard daily. That its actions stand on their own and that what is talked about has no effect on creating hatred and violence. She then makes a statement that completely contradicts this proposition.

The quote that is getting all the attention, which was its purpose of course, is:

Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

Now most are concentrating on the atrocious use of blood libel, a historically loaded word with explosive ramifications when a Jew was almost assassinated. She is appropriating a phrase with very specific meaning and applying it in a way that completely twists it in ways to make people angry. That is reprehensible.

But it is the second part of the sentence I want to focus on. She states that the pundits on the other side who manufactured this libel are inciting violence and hatred by what THEY write. That they are only pretending to condemn the violence while actually working to incite it.

So, conservative hate radio – just free speech. Liberal pundits commenting about hate radio – inciting hatred and violence.

My side – no connection between vitriolic speech and violence. Their side – direct connection between rhetoric and violence.

My speech – independent of violence. Criticism of my speech – incites violence.

Using the term ‘blood libel’ – civil speech. Telling politicians to be more civil in their speech – inciting hatred.

As she rails against liberals for falsely saying that political speech can cause violence, she accuses them of using political speech to cause violence. Situational ethics is not something I find appealing in a politician.

I guess her argument is smart politics but it is disturbingly dumb rhetoric. I really dislike dumb rhetoric.



Jon Stewart on shootings

Stewart gave a very heartfelt monologue on Monday about what happened this weekend. I think we would be a better country if more people, particularly those in positions of power, heard and acted on his words.

How do we regain civility in our discousre?

To Regain Civility in American Politics, We Need to Rethink Media, Education, and How We Participate
[Via Big Think]

Whether it is climate change, immigration, or income inequality, America seems incapable of making progress on solving complex problems. In fact, it seems that the country is locked in a downward cycle of incivility and polarization. In an interview I did last year with Big Think, I discussed three specific areas where institutional changes can occur that could increase active public participation on what seem to be eternally gridlocked issues.

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Well worth watching. Better idea dissemination, doing a better job with education and better participatory processes would go a long way.

Of course, perhaps higher employment levels would do so also.

Makes me wonder about Facebook

Iceland Officials Ask US To Explain Why It’s Trying To Get Lawmaker’s Twitter Info
[Via Techdirt]

On Friday, we noted that US officials had sent a court order (not a subpoena, apparently) to Twitter, asking for info from a few accounts that had some association with Wikileaks, including that of Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir. Apparently, Icelandic officials are not too happy about this. They’ve asked the US ambassador to Iceland to explain the reasoning for this:

“(It is) very serious that a foreign state, the United States, demands such personal information of an Icelandic person, an elected official,” Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.

“This is even more serious when put (in) perspective and concerns freedom of speech and people’s freedom in general,” he added.

Of course, we might not find out what was said until Wikileaks (or some other operation) leaks a new batch of State Department cables a few years down the road…

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We only know about this because Twitter pushed back against the court order and publicized it. I wonder if Facebook received such an order and just followed it without letting its users know?

The Mistakes The Government Made In Trying To Get Info From Twitter

The Mistakes The Government Made In Trying To Get Info From Twitter
[Via Techdirt]

Over the last month or so, we spent a lot of time going over the huge number of mistakes that the US government made in seizing a variety of domain names, supposedly for copyright infringement. Now, with the government seeking all sorts of info to build their legal case against Julian Assange and Wikileaks, it’s time to look at the mistakes the government is making there as well. Following up on the news that came out late last week of the government seeking info from Twitter, Christopher Soghoian has done a nice job highlighting some of the details and problems with the court order, some of which seem reminiscent of the problems with the domain seizures — meaning technical and legal errors, and a filing prepared by a rather surprisingly inexperienced government representative.

The 2703(d) order misspelled the names of one of the targets, Rop Gonggrijp. It also requested credit card and bank account numbers of several Twitter users, even though Twitter is a free service and so doesn’t have such information (presumably someone at DOJ knows a little about Twitter, since the agency has 350,000 followers of its official Twitter account).

The Department of Justice prosecutor named in the order, Tracy Doherty-McCormick, was prosecuting online child exploitation cases just five months before the Twitter order was issued. Given that the wikileaks investigation is the most high-profile national security investigation of the decade, and that the court order seeks records associated with an Icelandic member of parliament, you would think that DOJ would assign this case to someone more senior.

He also notes that the government must realize that three of the individuals named are computer security experts who probably used pretty strong encryption, so it’s unlikely this info will turn up much. Soghoian also points out the oddity of using this process to try to get info, as it would seem that there are much more reasonable ways that the government could request and get the same info.

I do wonder how much of these errors and sloppiness are due to basic rushing to try to get stuff done, or due to incompetence. Perhaps the government knows that it will get these kinds of things approved almost no matter what, so it doesn’t even try.

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Perhaps there is another reason. Perhaps it is all pro forma and they really aren’t trying very hard.

No. More likely incompetence. But the scary thing is that these sorts of mistakes in legal documents apparently happens all the time.

Women have no Consitituional protections from discrimination, according to Scalia

supreme court by methTICALman

Scalia: What rights for women?
[Via Why Evolution Is True]

It’s a damn good thing that there aren’t five Scalias on the Supreme Court (there are 3.5 Scalia-equivalents: Scalia himself, Thomas, Roberts, and 0.5 Alito). Unlike Scalia, Thomas at least has the virtue of keeping his yap shut (his wife does the dirty work).

This month’s California Lawyer has an interview with Scalia that is surprising even by his stone-age standards. Remember that Scalia is an “originalist”, who believes that no rights inhere in Americans except those explicitly outlined in the Constitution or obviously intended by its authors. In the interview, The Great Originalist shows the audacity of a dope, asserting that the Constitution doesn’t protect women against gender discrimination. Here are a couple questions (in bold) posted to Scalia along with his answers (plain type).

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

And what if some states don’t pass laws allowing those rights? And what about gays? If the Framers thought anything about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it was that they were meant to guarantee certain rights that were universal and could not be touched by state law.

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Yep, when the Amendment uses the word ‘persons’ it really only means men. So if the Legislature passed a law stating that no woman could hold credit in her own name, there is no Constitutional barrier. Or if the Legislature passed a law saying women could receive no federal money for education, there is no Constitutional barrier. Women’s rights are granted purely on the whim of Congress.

What this shows is that there is a very strong philosophy held by many people that actually believe that the 14th Amendment only applies to freed slaves who were men. It does not apply to anyone else, such a women. Thus they do not believe there are Constitutional safeguards regarding discrimination against women.

While we have legislation protecting women from certain forms of discrimination, since these are laws, they can be easily overturned by new laws.

Part of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Yet Scalia obviously thinks that minority rights should be solely determined by Congress.

Great.This from a Supreme Court that is the most repulsive for individual rights since the Lochner Court 100 years ago and from a Supreme Court Judge whose corruption by outside influences certainly hampers his ability to judge cases. But then, his in ability to be much more than a sneering jackanapes has been in evidence for quite some time. I expect that the dissents from Supreme Court cases will continue to be much better reading.

Highlighting someone who did the right thing

BBC News – Gabrielle Giffords ‘was alert’ after shooting, says intern
[Via BBC]

An intern working with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, said she responded to him while he administered first aid, after she was shot in the head at a Tucson supermarket.

Daniel Hernandez told Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week programme, “she was able to hold my hand when I asked her if she could hear me” but continued that he “wasn’t able to get any words from her”.

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Daniel Hernandez ran towards the shots instead of away. He used some training in triage to help the Congresswoman and stayed with her all the way to the hospital, holding her hand to let her communicate.
In times of danger, most of us think only about our own safety and run away from the source of trouble but we are all often saved by the small percentage of people who run towards the trouble.
You should listen to the interview at the BBC

Lock your cellphone

cell phone by Carolyn Coles

Warrantless cell phone search gets a green light in California
[Via Ars Technica]

The contents of your cell phone can reveal a lot more about you than the naked eye can: who your friends are, what you’ve been saying and when, which websites you’ve visited, and more. There has long been debate over user privacy when it comes to various data found on a cell phone, but according to the California Supreme Court, police don’t need a warrant to start digging through your phone’s contents.

The ruling comes as a result of the conviction of one Gregory Diaz, who was arrested for trying to sell ecstasy to a police informant in 2007 and had his phone confiscated when he arrived at the police station. The police eventually went through Diaz’s text message folder and found one that read “6 4 80.” Such a message means nothing to most of us, but it was apparently enough to be used as evidence against Diaz (for those curious, it means six pills will cost $80).

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I would imagine that locking your cellphone would protect against this. Can you be forced to turn over a password without a warrant? What sort of probably cause would be needed? How do they enforce that even with a warrant? Can you be charged with something for not providing a password for a phone that is really only a fishing expedition?

Less science spending on the horizon

US science faces big chill
[Via News at Nature - Most Recent]

Spending cuts and political battles loom on the horizon.

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And the Republicans say that they would rather scrutinize every program than to allow the institutions such as NSF to determine what projects should be funded. Yep, I will really look forward to some of the idiots and anti-science politicians examining science-based research.

Looks like we will be in for another 2 years, at least, of anti-science sentiment from the House. For example, we have the head of Environment and Economy Subcommittee, John Shimkus, who believes that God would not let climate change occur. Just a small sample of what we can look forward to as we cut science spending.

Why  am  I reminded of Clarence  Darrow’s  speech?

The scanners are safe until they aren’t

201012302141.jpg by ARTS

TSA Claims Naked Scanners Are Safe, But Exaggerated How They Make Sure That’s True
[Via Techdirt]

I’ve said in the past that of all the complaints with the TSA’s naked scanners, the one that initially concerned me the least was the “safety” claims about the x-rays used in the scanners. However, the more I hear, the more questionable it is to believe the TSA’s claims that the machines are safe. As a bunch of you sent in over the past few weeks (but which I just had a chance to read through completely), the TSA is being exceptionally misleading when it claims that the machines are harmless, because it includes a little caveat that most people miss which potentially changes everything.

That is, it claims that the machines are perfectly safe “when they’re working properly.” But as AOL’s senior public health reporter discovered, “the TSA offers no proof that anyone is checking to see if the machines are ‘working properly.’” Well, it pretends to offer proof, in saying that a variety of groups, including the FDA, the US Army, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and something called the Health Physics Society all work with the TSA to make sure the devices are safe. But, Schreiber contacted all the groups listed and found that it’s not what you’d think. Those groups do not make sure that the machines are properly maintained and calibrated. Basically, it sounds like most of these groups tested or examined one or a small number of these machines — often not the ones actually installed at the airport, to see if, conceptually, the machines are safe. But none of them have anything to do with making sure the machines are maintained and calibrated safely, such that passenger safety is not put at risk. In fact, one of the groups listed — the Health Physics Society — noted that the TSA actually refused to provide data that the TSA collects on radiation exposure from the scanners.

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I’ve written about this before – machines that are fine in the lab may not be fine in the airport. We have no way of knowing which is worrisome.

And the ones who should be most worried should be the TSA workers.

Compare this with the Governor of his state or the Mayor of NYC

Mayor of Newark, New Jersey starts Twitter blizzard cleanup snowpocalypse revolution
[Via Engadget]

Newark, New Jersey’s popular Mayor, Cory Booker, has had a novel reaction to the problems the blizzard is causing for his people: he’s listening to them, and trying to help. Shocking, we know. Even more interesting, of course, is the fact that he’s using Twitter to do so. While phone lines all over the tri-state area remain a joke (try calling an airline or public hotline), Twitter has presented Newark’s Mayor with a unique, and incredibly direct way of interacting with people who need help with everything from getting their streets plowed to delivering diapers — personally in many situations. While it’s not exactly enough to make us consider a move to Newark, it’s certainly impressive.

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It does not matter what party you are if you are responsive to the people. Utilizing Twitter to coordinate the emergency needs of the people in his town, and even doing work himself actively demonstrates why we want leaders in the first place.

He was even asking people to direct mail him with their needs. I mean, he even delivered ddiapers requested by a citizen. This is an example of the best reasons for the Internet – allowing people to connect and move important information around. He may not succeed with every request but people can tell he is really trying.

Heck, he has even taken to defending Bloomberg’s response in NYC.

Also, we get responses like this, ones that cut down on rumors and present a public face to what is being done:


201012291754.jpg

And this is not the first time he has used Twitter to help with the needs of citizens. Last year, he personally helped shovel an elderly man’s driveway after receiving a tweet from the daughter.

Someone to keep an eye on – varsity football player at Stanford, BA in Political Science, ran a campus hotline, got a law degree from Yale, operated free legal clinics for low income people, while a city council member he lived in a housing complex in his ward, he lived in a motor home for a while parking it at blighted corners to prevent drug trafficking there. There was even an assassination plot against him because of his tough stance on crime. The Newark Police Foundation was formed during his administration to provide for resources not funded in the city’s budget.

That anti-crime stance has resulted in some of the greatest reductions in violent crime rates in the country. The city had it first murder-free month in 44 years in 2010.

He has demonstrated an unorthodox approach to solving difficult problems, with a personal touch that seems to belie a martinet’s approach to micromanagement. Even Conan has made up with him.

The emerging world is hopeful. The established – not so much

globe by ToastyKen

Hope: Globalization’s Dividend
[Via Daily Ideafeed | Big Think]

One of the most overused words in public life is “hope”, up there with “change”. Yet it matters enormously. Politicians pay close attention to right-track/wrong-track indicators. Confidence determines whether consumers spend, and so whether companies invest. The “power of positive thinking”, as Norman Vincent Peale pointed out, is enormous. … Now hope is on the move. According to the Pew Research Centre, some 87% of Chinese, 50% of Brazilians and 45% of Indians think their country is going in the right direction, whereas 31% of Britons, 30% of Americans and 26% of the French do.

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Hard to argue with this:

For most of its history America has kept its promise to give its citizens a good chance of living better than their parents. But these days, less than half of Americans think their children’s living standards will be better than theirs. Experience has made them gloomy: the income of the median worker has been more or less stagnant since the mid-1970s, and, thanks to a combination of failing schools and disappearing mid-level jobs, social mobility in America is now among the lowest in the rich world.

While this is what other parts of the world are seeing:

In the emerging world, meanwhile, they are not arguing about pensions, but building colleges. China’s university population has quadrupled in the past two decades. UNESCO notes that the proportion of scientific researchers based in the developing world increased from 30% in 2002 to 38% in 2007. World-class companies such as India’s Infosys and China’s Huawei are beating developed-country competitors.

The rise of positive thinking in the emerging world is something to be welcomed—not least because it challenges the status quo. Nandan Nilekani of Infosys says that his company’s greatest achievement lies not in producing technology but in redefining the boundaries of the possible. If people in other countries take those ideas seriously, they will make life uncomfortable for gerontocrats in China and Arabia.

The question is whether we will wallow in our dark mood or look to emulate our younger, more optimistic neighbors. AT the moment, way too many Americans seem to focus on wallowing.

But I am optimistic that the positive attitude will return soon.

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