Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dear rightwing Catholic Islamophobes

Juan Cole; public intellectual, prominent blogger, essayist and professor of history. (photo: Informed Comment)
Juan Cole; public intellectual, prominent blogger, essayist and professor of history. (photo: Informed Comment)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
31 March 13

ope Francis on Maundy Thursday declined to address enormous crowds. Instead he went to a prison to emulate Jesus's act of humility before his crucifixion in washing the feet of his 12 disciples. The pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women and two of them Muslim (one of the women was Muslim). It is reported that some of the prisoners broke down in tears.

Pope Francis's willingness to wash the feet of a Muslim woman shows his concern for the very lowest stratum of society. Europe has millions of Muslims, and some are well off and well integrated into society. But many Muslims who immigrated into France and Italy for work got caught when the jobs dried up, and live in poor areas of the cities, being excluded from mainstream society or much hope of betterment. Women have lower status than men in such communities, so a poor Muslim woman in jail is just about the bottom of the social scale.

Pope Francis is from Argentina, which has a large, successful Arab-heritage community that includes Muslims, and he is said to have deeply disagreed with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, over the latter's Regensburg speech in which he said things that Muslims found insulting.

The thing that strikes me about all this is that there is a small strand of American Catholic conservatism that frankly despises both the poor and Muslims, and is one of the pillars of prejudice against Muslims (some call it Islamophobia) in the United States. Most Catholics in opinion polls have a more positive view of Islam and Muslims than is common among evangelical Protestants, but the rightwingers among them have a thing about Muslims (and about poor people).

An example is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. Rep. Peter King of New York also comes to mind. Robert Spencer has made a career of defaming Islam and Muslims. Then there is professional bully Sean Hannity of Faux News. Paul Ryan uses the insulting language of "Islamic fascism" (fascism is a Western invention; most fascists in history have been of Christian heritage; and it has nothing to do with the Muslim faith). Ryan, far from serving the poor, wants to cut social services to them by savaging the government budget, and openly boasts of following prophet of selfishness Ayn Rand.

These purveyors of hate speech against Muslims claim to be Catholics, and some of them are annoyingly Ultramontane, insisting on papal infallibility and trying to impose their values on all Americans.

Yet the person they hold to be the vicar of Christ has just given humankind a different charge, of humility and of service to the least in society, many of whom are Muslims.

So when will we see Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity and the others go to a prison to comfort inmates, and serve the Muslims among them? When will we see them kiss a Muslim's feet? Or are they cafeteria Catholics, parading only the values that accord with their Ayn Rand heresy?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Right should look into boardrooms, not bedrooms

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
 26 March 13
e're still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in "Roe v. Wade," which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they're born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court's willingness to consider the constitutionality of California's ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California's law while allowing other states to continue their bans.

Conservative moralists don't want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don't give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that's essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called "Citizen's United," the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were "people" under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson - seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn't entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?

Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation's biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion "London Whale" losses in 2012.

This is the same JPMorgan that's lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.

The so-called "Volcker Rule," intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits - itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act - still hasn't seen the light of day.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank - expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn't the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that's already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity - and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn't be the public's business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public's business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

Yet another blow to the WorldWest empire

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

The University of Kansas is located in Lawrence, which is also the home of WorldWest, the megacompany that owns the Payson Roundup.  The Lawrence Journal-World daily newspaper is the flagship newspaper in the WorldWest chain, and its support of KU athletics is not only unflagging, but way over the top.

That is the backdrop for what I'm about to relate, and I ask your indulgence as we journey back in time a few years to when the Roundup fired me.  Everybody has to get fired at least once in their lives.  That's just the way it goes.  The fact that mine came for telling the truth is something I'm proud of.

And justice has been served more than once since it happened.  In that the publisher and editor who fired me and the reporter who replaced me left the Roundup unceremoniously over a journalistic snafu I would have never allowed them to commit had I been there.  

Their departure accelerated an agonizingly relentless slide into mediocrity - a journey from the best little newspaper in the state to the unofficial shill for Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and the real estate community.

Which brings us back to the present and the latest blow to WorldWest.  You see I went to school at the Univeristy of Michigan, and last night the fourth-seeded Wolverines knocked off top-seeded Kansas in overtime to advance to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. 

Yeah, I know, it's only a basketball game.  And I realize a school even more reviled than KU - Ohio State - could still lie ahead for my maize and blue.  But I firmly believe that in this world we have to savor the little victories, and I'm going to revel in this one for a couple of days.

So I couldn't help going to the website of the Journal-World this morning.  There, on the front page, the sister paper of the Payson Roundup had to admit that it was, indeed, a "sour day."  

As I clicked out of their website, what was it I heard softly in the background?  Could it be the sound of a marching band?  It grew louder ... and louder still ... rising to a crescendo...

"Hail to the victors valiant, 
Hail to the conquering heroes,
Hail, hail to Michigan,
The champions of the West."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sky Harbor Sky Train debuts April 8

TOP: PHX Sky Train will have two to three cars, each holding 53 passengers, leaving every few minutes. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Cortney Bennett)
MIDDLE: Steve Grubbs, a Phoenix Aviation Department special projects administrator, said PHX Sky Train is designed to accommodate expansion to other terminals. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Cortney Bennett)
BOTTOM: Blue Stratus, patterned after cloud, is one piece of public art incorporated into the PHX Sky Train project. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Cortney Bennett)

By CORTNEY BENNETT Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – As of Monday, April 8, those traveling between Metro light rail and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport can catch a free, air-conditioned ride aboard PHX Sky Train.

The first phase of the $1.6 billion project connects with Terminal 4 and includes a stop at the East Economy parking lot. The driverless cars, leaving about every three minutes, will make the trip in about half the time of the current shuttle buses.

“The Sky Train is going to serve the airport really well to move passengers really efficiently from point to point,” Steve Grubbs, a Phoenix Aviation Department special projects administrator, said during a media tour Thursday.

The trains will reduce congestion from the 108 buses that currently transport passengers around the airport, he said, while the station connecting with light rail emphasizes convenience and incorporates sustainable features and public artwork.
US Airways and Southwest Airlines will offer free early bag checking at the light-rail and East Economy stations in a pilot program. Passengers will also be able to print boarding passes at kiosks from participating airlines.

Grubbs said the PHX Sky Train was designed to create flexibility for future expansions and modifications.

Julie Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the airport, said a bridge that crosses 100 feet over a taxiway, enough to clear the tallest jetliners, will enhance the experience.
“It should be a really great ride for passengers,” she said.

Officials plan to extend the train to Terminal 3, with a walkway to Terminal 2, by 2015.
The light-rail station’s public art features mosaic-like designs in the flooring and a vibrant blue ceiling structure outside, paid for by a required 1 percent allocation in the budget.

Rebecca Blume Rothman, public arts project manager for the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, said this was the first foray into public art for most of the seven artists whose work is displayed at the stations.

Their mission is to enhance infrastructure, not merely decorate it, she said.
“Something that our program strived for is to use public art as a means to create landmarks in the city fabric,” Rothman said.

  PHX Sky Train:  
• Will take three minutes to travel from the 44th Street and Washington station to East Economy parking and another two minutes to to reach Terminal 4.
• Trains will run continuously in both directions and arrive as frequently as every three minutes.
• Eighteen train cars will be assembled into two- or three-car trains.
• Each car holds 53 passengers.
• Trains will run automatically without drivers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

UA opens Sweet 16 play tonight

By Arizona Athletics, March 27, 2013

The No. 6 seed Wildcats will play No. 2 seed Ohio State on March 28 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This will mark the second trip to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 under head coach Sean Miller and Arizona's 15th trip to the regional semifinals in program history. 

The UA's Jordin Mayes (Photo by Patti Ota)
The UA's Jordin Mayes (Photo by Patti Ota)
The No. 6 seed Arizona men's basketball team (27-7, 12-6 Pac-12) will open play in the 2013 NCAA West Regional semifinal against No. 2 seed Ohio State (28-7, 13-5 Big Ten) on March 28 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

This is UA's 30th NCAA Tournament appearance overall (counting two vacated appearances), and the program has an official 48-26 (.649) record in its previous NCAA Tournament action. Nine of Arizona's 15 Sweet 16 appearances have come in the West Regional, and 31 of the program's 48 NCAA Tournament wins have come through the West Region.

The UA is ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll (as of March 18). The Wildcats are one of 11 teams nationally to have been ranked in both polls in every ranking period this season.

The Big Ten Conference postseason tournament champion Buckeyes will enter Thursday's game with a 28-7 record (13-5 Big Ten) following their March 24 78-75 win over Iowa State. As a team, Ohio State shoots 45.6 percent from the field (886-of-1,943), including 35.8 percent (215-of-600) from three-point range, while averaging 70.2 points per game.

Opponents shoot at a 39.5 percent clip and average 58.8 points per game. Two Buckeyes average in double figures, led by Deshaun Thomas' 19.7 ppg figure. Thomas also leads Ohio State with a 6.1 rebounds per game average.

Thursday's game will be the second meeting of the two schools, with Ohio State holding a 1-0 series advantage. Like this one, the previous meeting was a neutral-site game in Los Angeles, as OSU triumphed 90-47 on Dec. 29, 1971, in the opening round of the Bruin Classic. All-time, Arizona is 0-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-0 in Columbus, Ohio, and 0-1 in neutral-site games.

Arizona has a 33-32 (.508) record against current Big Ten Conference members and is 4-4 against the league over in its last eight meetings, last facing a Big Ten opponent on Nov. 23, 2009, in what was a 65-61 loss to Wisconsin at the Maui Invitational.

This regional appearance marks the 13th time the Cats have road tripped it to California for the NCAA Tournament, and in those 13 appearances, the UA is 13-7 (.650). Two of those appearances were regionals, as the Wildcats lost the 1976 West Regional final to UCLA in Pauley Pavilion and beat Missouri in the 1994 West Regional final at the L.A. Sports Arena en route to the Final Four.

Last week, for the second game in a row, Arizona put its opponent in an early hole and never looked back in cruising to a 74-51 win over Harvard on March 23. The Cats jumped out to a 17-2 lead, forcing the Crimson to miss its first 12 shots and connecting on 58 percent of its own in the half. 

Harvard's 27.6 percent shooting was the lowest for a UA opponent in NCAA Tournament play. Mark Lyons matched a career high with 27 points, Solomon Hill added a double-double and Jordin Mayes added eight key points in the second half. 

By virtue of its 23-point win over Harvard, Arizona earned a berth in its 15th Sweet 16 and the seventh for the program since 2001. In that span, Arizona's seven Sweet 16 appearances rank fourth nationally, trailing only Kansas (10), Duke (10) and Michigan State (8) when it comes to playing into the tournament's second weekend.

Mark Lyons' 63-percent shooting weekend (20-of-32) in Salt Lake City was his best back-to-back effort in efficiency and production all year. He made 12 buckets Saturday against Harvard, a career high. The 25.0 ppg scoring average in the first two games of the tournament boosted his season scoring average to 15.4 ppg. He's the 37th player in school history to score 500 points in a season. 

In his nine seasons as a head coach, Sean Miller has made six NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wildcat mentor has proven to be good at advancing when he gets there, as this is his fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last six seasons. 

Since 2008, Miller is one of seven coaches nationally to appear in four or more regional semifinals in that span. The list includes Tom Izzo, Michigan State; Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; and Bill Self, Kansas (5 each); and Miller, Xavier and Arizona; John Calipari, Memphis and Kentucky; Roy Williams, North Carolina; and Thad Matta, Ohio State (4 each). 

UP NEXT: A win would move Arizona into the March 30 West Regional final against the Wichita State-LaSalle winner. Game time is TBA.

Senate Dems reject chained CPI - for now

Last week the Senate passed the Sanders-Harkin-Hirono Amendment which opposed the Social Security cut and tax increase known as the “chained CPI.” That’s a smart move, and a victory for the public.  It’s also very timely, since the “chained CPI” has repeatedly been raised by the White House in its attempt to forge a “Grand Bargain” with Congressional Republicans. 

The Sanders amendment was introduced in order to put Senators on record as either supporting or opposing this unpopular, unwise idea. The Senate’s rejection of the “chained CPI” was a victory for common sense. But they did it by voice vote, which leaves the door open to a deal later on which includes this very bad, very unpopular idea.

Apparently Senators don’t want to be on record as supporting the “chained CPI” – but they don’t want to be on record against it, either.

The Senate, unlike the House, is controlled by Democrats. So we’re forced to conclude that the decision to hold a voice vote was made by the Democrats, not Republicans.  That makes sense, since so many Democratic Senators have been trying to help the White House get this policy into a Grand Bargain. That includes members of the so-called Gang of Six, a corporate- and billionaire-friendly “centrist” group whose members currently include Max Baucus of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

The word “centrist” is in quotes because cutting Social Security is not something the political center wants. Poll after poll has shown, in fact, that a majority of voters across the political spectrum rejects the chained CPI or any other form of benefit cut.  In fact, a recent poll showed that voters would prefer to increase Social Security benefits – and would be willing to pay more in taxes to do it.

No wonder these Senators wanted to vote in secret. If they’re keeping their powder dry for a Social Security betrayal, apparently they don’t want to have to add hypocrisy to their list of sins.

They probably won’t have to in order to lose some elections. The Democratic Party has already paid a huge price just for talking about Social Security cuts.  A Social Security Works poll showed that the party suffered a stunning 25-point plunge in public confidence between 2005 and 2010 on its ability to do a better job than its opposition to protect the program.

That probably contributed to the Democrats’ loss of the House in 2010. Imagine what actually cutting the program would do.  No wonder so many Senators don’t want to be seen supporting the chained CPI – but want to keep the door open to a deal which includes it later on.

Who are the “closet chainers” in the United States Senate? Warner and Baucus are likely “yes.” What about Sen. Dick Durbin?  Durbin’s a supporter of the “Simpson Bowles” proposal (which includes the “chained CPI”), and his pronouncements on the topic have been less than Shermanesque.  Durbin has said that the chained-CPI cuts are “a possibility, but no decision’s been made.”

Durbin has also said that including Social Security cuts like the chained CPI in budget negotiations is “the wrong way to go.”  But even in that statement, which was billed as his declaration of opposition to it, he was less than unequivocal.  “It may be part of an overall solution,” Durbin then added.

I’d like to know where Senators like Dick Durbin stand on the chained-CPI. I think their constituents would like to know, too.  And I’d like to know where my Senators stand. A commenter on one of my earlier chained-CPI posts says she received a form letter from one of them, Dianne Feinstein, on the subject. The commenter writes:

“In response to a petition I signed, my Senator, Dianne Feinstein explains to me the ‘benefits’ of a ‘Chained-CPI’ and how it will ‘save’ Social Security over ‘112 billion’ dollars during the next ten years. She goes to say that ‘government’ will be ‘restricted’ from using these ‘savings’ for any other purpose.”

That’s nonsense, from my state’s senior Senator. I’d like to see Feinstein go on the record about the chained CPI so she has to defend those comments. But thanks to the voice vote, she doesn’t have to. Sen. Barbara Boxer has taken a more negative tone toward this middle-class tax hike and Social Security benefit cut, but I’d like to see something more definitive from her too.

Roll-call votes are an integral part of the democratic (with a small “d”) process. For too many years we’ve allowed our elected officials to evade accountability on this and other critical issues. In this case, voters who re-elected the President and the Democratic Senate did so in large part because they believed they were going to defend Social Security’s benefits.

I’d like to know if those voters were misled. In fact, one of the best reasons to support public accountability is to prevent voters from being misled. Instead we’ve seen one artificially engineered crisis after another, each of which has been designed to make it look as if these terrible and unpopular policies were unavoidable, that they were needed to avert disaster – almost an act of God.

I want to know: Who’s defending Social Security and protecting middle class tax affordability and who isn’t?

This vote is a move forward for those who want to see Social Security protected. Even its off-the-record voice vote status has an upside: It stands as mute witness to the public’s revulsion at the idea of cutting Social Security benefits for seniors, veterans, and the disabled. It reminds our leaders that some of them are considering an option so disliked and so ill-advised that they can’t be seen doing it in the light of day.

The good news about this vote is that it tells us that the Senate leadership understand that the “chained CPI” is politically toxic. The bad news is that they’re not willing to stand up for what they know is right, or publicly resist what they know is wrong.
They won’t make a case in favor of the chained CPI. But they won’t rule it out, either. They act as if they’re ashamed of it – and of themselves for considering it.

They should be.

EDDIE BASHA: Arizona has lost a real superhero

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

The Gazette Blog would be remiss if we didn’t note the passing of Eddie Basha.

With all the yahoos and wingnuts in our state, Basha stands in bold contrast as one of the truly great Arizonans. You've probably been hearing about his legendary contributions in The Arizona Republic and on local TV newscasts.

But let me just summarize by noting his lifelong commitment to civil rights, to people in need of help, to education, to the arts, to his employees, and even to his competition. That’s right: Basha once saved a Valley chain of IGA stories from going under by providing its owner with supplies, trucks and groceries.

In this era of greedy, faceless corporations, Eddie Basha was a throwback to another time, a time when customers had faces, employees were considered family, and competitors were still your neighbors.

When Basha’s supermarket chain fell briefly into bankruptcy a few years ago, I wrote a column in the print version of the Rim Country Gazette about Eddie, his contributions to Arizona, and the importance of supporting his Payson store. I received a personal letter from him thanking me for my support.

How did he know? Turns out Eddie Basha read the Gazette. And he actually remembered working with me briefly on an educational video in the Valley many years earlier.

Maybe the best way to remember Basha is by the message printed on a card he always carried in his wallet. It read: “The hand of help has no color. The face of caring has no shape. The language of love has no accent.”

I can think of no greater way to pay tribute to Eddie Basha and what he has done for all of us than to redouble our support of the local market that bears his name, and that is still run by his children.

It is the only local, family-owned supermarket chain left in Arizona.

See you at Basha’s.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Open letter to McConnell from Kentuckian

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 25, 2007. (photo: Dennis Cook/AP)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 25, 2007. (photo: Dennis Cook/AP)

By Carl Gibson | Reader Supported News
22 March 13
Reader Supported News | Perspective

ear Senator McConnell,

You are not a Kentuckian. In fact, your citizenship as a Kentuckian should be revoked, and you should be ineligible to run again for re-election.

Kentuckians live by the phrase "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." It's emblazoned on our flag along with two men, a frontiersman (Daniel Boone) and a statesman (Henry Clay) standing together. They may be standing on opposite sides of the seal, but their embrace symbolizes a spirit of cooperation and caring for your fellow man, even though you may sometimes disagree with him. Yet as Senate Minority Leader, you proudly announced that your chief goal as the top Republican member was not to create jobs or help schools or look out for the struggling middle class, but to deny President Obama a second term. We've seen a record amount of Republican filibusters, surpassing all others made in recent history, under your leadership. Since you've been the Republican leader, the US Senate has become what Jesus, when he cleansed the temple of the greedy moneychangers, referred to as a "den of thieves." And because of your divisive tactics, you are not a Kentuckian. But that's not the only reason.

You've also let down the very same Kentuckians you were elected to represent, by choosing to first represent the interests of those who write your campaign checks. In your 2002 re-election campaign, which precluded your YES vote on the Iraq War, your top campaign donor, Guardsmark, and your #10 campaign donor, Mantech International, were both military contractors – or as FDR called them, war profiteers.

Just months after your YES vote to the invasion of Iraq, which claimed the lives of at least 4,500 American soldiers and has cost us upwards of $800 billion, you voted once again for an additional $86 billion in war spending. Two years later, when the behavior of military contractors like those who donated to your previous campaign were questioned in the public, you voted NO to a bill that would have investigated those companies, who were paid with taxpayer money and should have every reason to be transparent.

But in 2010, when those soldiers who were fortunate enough to make it home from Iraq alive needed your help the most, you voted NO to $3.4 billion in assistance for homeless veterans with children to look after. You even voted NO to spending just $1 billion in 2012 for a jobs program for veterans, many of whom live in your state. Your craven subservience to big money special interests has never been more clear than when you gave your #24 campaign contributor in your 2008 re-election bid, Amgen, a Christmas gift in the fiscal cliff bill that bilked Medicare out of $500 million. Because of your disdain for your constituents and naked pandering to your campaign donors, you don't deserve to be called a Kentuckian. You're a prostitute who puts out services after enough is put into your pocket. And last time I checked, prostitution is illegal in Kentucky.

Your attack campaign on Ashley Judd, the darling of Kentucky basketball, a native Tennessean but still more of a Kentuckian than you'll ever be, will backfire. Kentucky voters are fed up with paying you an exorbitant salary to sit on your thumbs while refusing to help anybody but yourself. The latest polls show it – at the end of 2012, most Kentucky voters said they can't stand you. 73 percent of Democrats disapprove of you and 58 percent of Independents say they don't like you either. Even 28 percent of Republicans openly disapprove of how you've wrecked the country.

Your time is limited, Senator McConnell. It's time for you to step aside, and let a Kentuckian do the job you haven't been doing for decades.

Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Spring Choral Society concert is April 27



Mark your calendars now! The Payson Choral Society’s Spring concert “TIME MACHINE” directed by Daria Mason with accompaniment by Victoria Harris comes to the Payson High School auditorium on Saturday,  April 27th.

Performances are scheduled for 1 PM and 7 PM. Pre-sale concert tickets are $8 for adults - All students under 18, and children are - FREE. Tickets may be purchased in advance from Choral Society members, The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and at the library.  Tickets will also be available at the door before each concert for $10 each.   

Proceeds from the concerts provide musical scholarships to middle and high school students. These are awarded and the students will sing their winning tryout selection each at the Spring concert. For more information, please call John Landino 928-468-0023.

Furious Scalia wants gay talk to stop

By Andy Borowitz
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an outburst that shocked many onlookers at the Supreme Court today, Justice Antonin Scalia said that it made him “angry beyond belief” that he had to listen to people talking about gay couples all week.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy questioned whether it was appropriate for the Court to hear a case about same-sex marriage at this time, Mr. Scalia stunned observers with an emotional outburst.

“O.K., could we just stop talking about this stuff right now?” Justice Scalia snapped at Justice Kennedy. “I’ve told you all how I feel about this topic, and I don’t understand why we’re going on and on about it unless you all hate me.”

As the courtroom froze in dead silence, Justice Scalia seemed to gather steam, shouting, “For two days, it’s been gay this, gay that. You’re all just talking about this stuff as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. Well, it’s not, O.K.? It’s weird and it’s wrong. And just talking about it like it’s O.K. and whatnot is making me angry beyond belief.”

As the other justices averted their eyes, Justice Scalia broke down, sobbing that he wished “things were normal, the way they used to be.”

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

GOP autopsy reveals heart missing

Political satirist Will Durst. (photo:
Political satirist Will Durst. (photo:

By Will Durst, Humor Times
24 March 13

ormally you don't expect to see the words "Republicans" and "introspection" right next to each other. Like supermodel and barbecue. Physicist and polka. Gazelle and ophthalmology. You catch my drift. But that's exactly what happened last week, when the Republican Party released a 100-page report detailing why their last presidential campaign skidded into the emergency room Dead on Arrival.

The findings were compiled through analysis, interviews and feedback from campaign managers, focus groups, and most likely augmented by clandestine hanging out at bars during happy hour in the proximity of graveyards and funeral parlors. Some paint it as a comprehensive post- election review. Others argue it's incomprehensible. The media calls it an autopsy. A self- addressed post-mortem love letter in the spirit of Poe.

Hogwash and flummery could also be thrown into the descriptive mix as the dispatch's theme finds nothing wrong with the party message; the problem is all in the delivery. No need to demonstrate more compassion, the trick is to seem more compassionate. Got to learn how to win Ohio without ticking off Arkansas. In other words, all they need to do is to bleach the leopard's spots.

The study was commissioned by members of the party's hierarchy and given the official title - Growth and Opportunity Project. A GOP for the GOP. Although Grossly Obvious Poppycock fits as well. Claiming party purity trumps electoral victory, there is already heavy pushback from the right. "What good is it to win earthly spoils when you lose your immortal soul and your breath still smells like embalming fluid?"

What this really calls for is an independent perspective. You want an autopsy, we'll give you an autopsy.

Summary Report of Autopsy concerning the corpse of the 2012 Republican campaign. External Examination. Close inspection of the body, an old white billionaire, reveals a serrated knife approximately 9 inches long with the initials, Grover Norquist, engraved on the handle, protruding from under the right side between the 4th & 5th ribs.

Gunshot residue found covering the right hand in excess of ½ inch depth, which considering the holes in the right temple exhibiting upward trajectories, is consistent with what can only be described as a series of self- inflicted gunshot wounds. DNA tests reveal skin samples found under the broken nails of both hands are indicative of numerous encounters between the victim and an unknown woman or perhaps group of women.

The nose is missing which corresponds to the victim's recent recurring publicized bout of TeaPartyitis, a disease which causes the sufferer to cut off his nose to spite his face. In the rectum, what appears to be a wooden stick 6 inches long and ¾ inch in diameter, has been lodged for quite some time causing a critical backup of feces.

Pending toxicology results from the lab, internal examination reveals organs in a state consistent with the victim's age, with two conspicuous anomalies. A steady diet of bunk and bamboozle has dulled the senses creating a milky film that covers the retinas. Most exceptional was the astonishing discovery of the total absence of a heart.

It is the opinion of this office the cause of death was this myocardial void along with the aforementioned complications from various acute traumas. In other words, the victim was probably dead for a long time, just didn't know it.