Saturday, December 31, 2016

News and opinions in brief

The West Virginia nonprofit official who called Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” has been fired

Jenée Desmond-harris · Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 3:22 pm

No, really this time.

A woman who was initially suspended from and then reinstated to her job after making a racist Facebook post about Michelle Obama in November was officially fired from her position as the director for a West Virginia nonprofit, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, the now-former director of the Clay County Development Corp., sparked national outrage when she referred to the first lady as an “ape in heels.” In addition to her firing, West Virginia state officials say her former employer — which, with government funding, provides services to elderly and low-income residents — will now be managed by the state, according to Reuters.

The news comes after a series of developments that made it unclear what consequences Taylor would face for the Facebook post. November headlines claimed she “lost her job,” with the organization. But in December, the nonprofit clarified that she’d in fact just been suspended, and planned to be back at work before Christmas.

It was evident from the outset that there were practical concerns about having someone so comfortable making blatant racial attacks on the payroll of an organization tasked with serving the state’s elderly and disabled residents (and yes, comparing a black person to an ape is a classic racist attack). In light of Taylor’s comments, the commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services warned in November that any discrimination against customers could put the commission’s state funding at risk, according to the Gazette-Mail.

Her firing this week appears to be related to the concerns about whether she could carry out her duties in a fair manner.

"Following the state's request for specific assurances that the CCDC is following anti-discrimination policies, we have been assured that Pamela Taylor has been removed from her position as CCDC director," West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office said in a Tuesday statement. In addition, he announced that the Appalachian Area Agency on Aging, a private nonprofit, will manage the CCDC for six months.

Racist, sexist attacks on Michelle Obama: a staple of criticism from political opponents

Unfortunately, this genre of vile attacks on the first lady was not unusual in the least. Taylor’s words, as disgusting as they were, were predictable. After all, Obama has been the victim of racist and sexist insults since her husband’s first campaign.

Just last week, Carl Paladino, the New York co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign, responding to a survey by a Buffalo newspaper about what he wanted to see “go away in 2017,” replied about the first lady, “I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.” Paladino, who also said he hoped President Obama would die of mad cow disease, has since issued a quasi-apology — actually, more of a defense — saying, “I could not have made a worse choice in the words I used to express my feelings,” claiming that he only meant to share the sentiments with friends, and declaring, predictably, “I certainly am not a racist.”

The first lady alluded to this pattern of attacks against her during an October campaign appearance for Hillary Clinton in Manchester, New Hampshire, when she reflected on the sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Donald Trump and his degrading commentary about women.

“I have to tell you that I listened to all this. And I feel it so personally,” she said, adding, “It has shaken me to my core," she said.

That’s no wonder. She’s been the victim of sexist insults — more often than not intertwined with racist themes — since her husband’s first bid for the White House. In her emotional commentary in that speech about the “vulgar words” and “shameful comments” that equate women’s value with their physical appearances, she could just as easily be referring to things that have been said about her, often with a dose of racism mixed in to increase the insults

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Experts say Ryan's crackdown on livestreaming from the House floor is unconstitutional (kerry Eleveld) · Wednesday, December 28, 2016, 2:25 pm

Here's one more lesson in preparing for the mindset of the GOP's total government takeover in January: Whatever you do, don't let the Constitution stand in the way of a bad idea.

After Democrats livestreamed their day-long sit-in last summer supporting gun safety in the wake of the Orlando massacre, Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders now want to enable the sergeant-at-arms to penalize House members with fines as high as $2,500 for taking video or pictures from the chamber floor. The provision—which delegates the members' responsibilities to an external entity—will be rolled into the House rules package for consideration in early January, reports Rachel Bade.

But experts say Ryan’s proposal may run afoul of Article 1 of the Constitution, which says “each House may … punish its Members for disorderly behavior.” For more than 200 years that has been interpreted to mean any contested sanctions against lawmakers must be approved by the full House with a floor vote, attorneys steeped in congressional legal matters say.

“The Constitution gives the House the authority to discipline members; I have never heard of anything where an officer of the House was given that authority,” said Mike Stern, a former lawyer for the nonpartisan House counsel’s office and the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s GOP staff.

Stern, who called the proposed rule a “plausible Constitutional issue to raise,” said Democrats could take the matter to court. “Their strongest argument would be: The House doesn’t have the authority to give these officers the power to punish us; only the power of the House can do that, and [Republicans] have short-circuited our rights by the way they’ve done it.’”


Obama’s Last Stands


President-elect Donald Trump is accusing President Obama of putting up “roadblocks” to a smooth transition.

In reality, I think President Obama has been too cooperative with Trump.

In the waning days of his administration, I’d recommend Obama take the following last stands:

1. Name Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President power to fill any vacancy during the recess of the Senate. The Supreme Court is no exception: Justice William Brennan began his Court tenure with a recess appointment in 1956. Any appointments made this way expire at the end of the next Senate session. So if Obama appointed Garland on January 3, the appointment would last until December 2017, the end of the first session of the 115th Congress.

2. Use his pardoning authority to forgive “Dreamers.” With a flick of his pen, Obama could forgive the past and future civil immigration offenses of the nearly 750,000 young people granted legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Without an immigration offense on their records, they could more easily apply for legal status.

3. Impose economic sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election – including blocking all loans or investments by Russian nationals in all real estate ventures in the United States.

4. Protect the civil service from the Trump transition. Instruct all cabinet departments and agencies not to respond to any Trump transition team inquiry that might intimidate any individual members of the civil service.

5. Issue an executive order protecting the independence of all government fact-finding agencies: Included would be the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Energy Information. (Trump could repeal the order, but that would be politically costly.)

6. Issue an executive order protecting the independence of all Inspectors General in every cabinet department and agency. (Ditto.)

7. Issue a report on possible tax and benefit cuts, showing which state’s citizens will most benefit from tax cuts going to the richest Americans and largest corporations (overwhelmingly the citizens of blue states), and which will lose the most from cuts in Medicaid and repeal of Obamacare (overwhelmingly red states), along with estimates of such gains.


Much Ado About Nothing

ByJOSH MARSHALLPublishedDECEMBER 27, 2016, 9:42 PM EDT

In the days since the US allowed the UN Security Council to vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has unleashed a fusillade of abuse aimed at the Obama White House, one likely unprecedented in the almost 70 year history of the US-Israel relationship, at least in terms of its public character. Adding to the uncanny nature of the dispute, Israel can claim that it is not attacking the United States but simply President Obama and his administration, since we are in the final liminal few weeks of the Obama administration, awaiting dramatic changes in under President Trump after January 20th. Minister of Culture Miri Regev spit out: "Obama is history. We have Trump." Indeed, Netanyahu's government has gone so far as to promise it will share "ironclad" evidence of Obama's perfidy with Trump after his inauguration. This of course builds on the efforts prior to the resolution in which Netanyahu enlisted Trump's assistance in a failed effort to block the vote.

As I wrote, this level and intensity of public attack on a US government by an Israeli government is simply unprecedented. What is notable, though, is that Israel is now focusing its entire case on a largely semantic and I would argue largely meaningless claim: specifically that the US did not merely allow the vote on the resolution to take place but actually crafted the language and whipped votes on its behalf. This contradicts White House's Ben Rhodes statement that, "we [the White House] did not draft this resolution; we did not introduce this resolution. The Egyptians, in partnership with the Palestinians, are the ones who began circulating an earlier draft of the resolution ... And we took the position that we did when it was put to a vote."

As a purely factual matter, the Israeli government's claims seem at best exaggerated. Today Ha'aretz's Barak Ravid published a detailed look at the back channel threats, consultations and feverish diplomacy that led up to the vote and the real great power guiding hand appears to have been the United Kingdom. Netanyahu backers dismiss this and claim that Britain was actually operating at the behest of the United States (i.e., President Obama) to push through the resolution without US fingerprints.

I think the best way to look at this is to draw back from the claims and particulars. They confuse the issue rather than clarify it. A great power like the United States is never a hegemon Mr Magoo walking forward unawares on a question as weighty and consequential as this one. It is not credible to claim that the US made no effort to make its views or possible actions known or took a role that was purely passive. Indeed, the US made clear publicly a month ago that while it would veto any resolution that focused solely on settlements, it might now allow a vote on one that also condemned Palestinian incitement and violence. Indeed, if you look at Ravid's reporting, it appears that the United Kingdom used this as a metric as a guide around which to craft a resolution with the countries who brought the resolution forward.

In its escalating series of attacks, the Israeli government has now claimed it has "ironclad" evidence that the US was behind the resolution and says it will share this with President Trump after January 20th. Netanyahu's spokesman refused today on MSNBC to describe the evidence. But just this evening an Egyptian paper published what some in Israel are interpreting as the ironclad evidence: a purported transcript of a December meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in which Kerry said the US was prepared to cooperate with the Palestinians on a resolution before the Security Council (remember this was originally a Palestinian resolution that was going to be brought forward by the Egyptians.)

There were apparently no details (I'm not able to read the original report in Arabic) about this transcript, whose side it's from, or anything else. So there's a question mark over its authenticity. But if this is true it seems plausible since since what is claimed is really no different from what Kerry said publicly in Washington in early December.

As I said, this whole argument seems at least partly semantic and entirely a distraction. At a conference in Washington in early December Secretary Kerry signaled clearly the US would again veto a resolution if it was "biased and unfair and a resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel" but suggested that recent Israeli actions and statements in favor of settlements might lead it to allow a more even-handed resolution.

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5 Things You Can Do Right Now About Donald J. Trump

from Michael Moore

It's been seven weeks since Hillary beat Trump by nearly 3 million votes but lost the presidency to him. So if your head is still spinning from that mindf***, or you can't quite believe a malignant narcissist will now sit in the Oval Office, or if you are simply still working your way through the 17 stages of grief, then I am here to say to you, "There's no crying in TrumpLand -- Let's get to work!" All hands on deck! Brush your yourself off and let's get busy because: a) All hope is not lost; b) There are more of us than there are of them; and c) The roadside is littered with the ended careers of self-absorbed, narcissistic politicians whose arrogance led them to do things that caused their early resignation or impeachment. Don't think that can't happen here.

I do not say these things because I am filled with optimism. In fact, I think the first thing we all have to do in order to move on is to admit out loud what we already think privately: As bad as we know it's going to be, it's actually going to be worse. A lot worse. Now cheer up and read on...

1. MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN. Your Senators and Members of Congress are home right now, in your town (or a nearby town), for their holiday break. Their office is open! You don't need an appointment. Just show up (to find out where the local office is click here: and type in your zip code). Go there (take a friend!), walk in and say "I'm a constituent and I'd like a few minutes with my Congressman/woman." He/she may be busy, so tell them you'd like to speak to someone on the staff for a couple minutes. Most local congressional offices are LOATHE to turn anyone away because to them you are that one vote who could vote them out of office. Tell the person you get to speak to why you want the Congressman to block all the damage Trump is going to do (cite examples). If he/she is a Republican, they will explain why they "support the new President." You then must politely tell them you and everyone you know will work to unseat them in 2018 if they don't act independently from Trump. The calmer and cooler you say this, the more they will believe it. If your rep is a Democrat, tell him/her that you expect them to AGGRESSIVELY fight the Trump agenda -- and if they don't, you will work with others to support a true progressive in the Democratic primary in 2018. Tell them that millions of us will do what the Tea Party did to the Republicans: primary them and toss them out of office. Say it politely, thank them, then leave. You actually showing up in person to do this is as powerful as 100 letters or a large demonstration on the street in front of their office. Do this and post it on social media. Post it on my Facebook or Twitter and I'll try to re-post/tweet as many as I can.

2. WRITE TO THE DNC TONIGHT. It will take 5 minutes. Send a quick email to the Democratic National Committee ( and tell them you want them to elect Congressman Keith Ellison as the new chairperson of the Democratic Party. He is the future and everyone else is the past. Here's what the old guard gave us: TWICE in 16 years the Democratic candidate WON the vote for President but LOST the White House. Incredible! This has to stop! Ellison and the progressive wing of the party must take us forward. Keith has the backing of Bernie Sanders and myself, but also the endorsement of some of the old guard who've come around to see the error of past ways (Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, etc.). In addition to being born in Detroit, spending his adulthood as a community organizer and now representing the Twin Cities in the House, Ellison is also the only Muslim member of Congress. He was one of the few members of Congress brave enough to back Bernie. He will fight to turn this around and, as a son of the Midwest, bring that part of the country back from the dark side. Let's flood the DNC with emails tonight (and cc: the your state Democratic Party, too - you can look up their email address on Google).

3. FORM YOUR OWN RAPID RESPONSE TEAM. By New Year's Day this Sunday, I want you to ask 5 to 10 friends, family members, co-workers, classmates or neighbors to be part of your Rapid Response Team. Pick a name for it -- the "Doyle Family Rapid Response Team", the "Oak Street Rapid Response Team", the "Seabrook High School Rapid Response Team", the "Gilmore Girls Fan Club Rapid Response Team", etc. Set a plan to contact each other online as soon as word goes out on any given day to oppose what Trump and Congress are up to. Your Rapid Response Team will agree with each other to email elected reps, make calls, post on social media, go to protests and/or organize others at work, school or in the neighborhood. Through my own social media sites, as stuff happens, I will send out instructions immediately as to what we all must do. Sign up now to follow me on my Facebook ( and Twitter ( if you don't already. Form your team this week. I'm personally organizing a Rapid Response Team in the apartment building where I live. We need to get prepared and be ready now. If we wait til late January to organize, it will be too late.

4. MAKE PLANS NOW TO BE AT THE INAUGURATION WEEKEND PROTESTS! We need millions in the streets in DC -- and that's what it looks like it's shaping up to be. The big march will be the day after the Inauguration - the Million Women March on January 21st. Click here for details On January 20th - Inauguration Day - a call has been gone out to non-violently disrupt the proceedings. Go to and learn about civil disobedience on that day. Planes and trains are already selling out, as are hotels. Contact the above sites to get info on buses and housing (or charter your own bus from your town). Everyone who can should be there. If you can't make it, find (or organize) a local protest in your area. Take the day off. No one should be silent that day.

5. YOU SHOULD RUN FOR OFFICE. Yes, YOU. Why not? Who else do you think is going to do it? I'm not saying you have to be the next Senator from Michigan, but why not run for State Rep. or school board or city council? At the very least, run for precinct delegate in the local Democratic Party. It's time to stop carping about politicians and become one. But a different kind of one! I ran for and got elected to the school board at 18-years old. Form your campaign committee now for the elections in 2017 and 2018. (If you need me, I'll even offer to be your honorary chair!) You know you can do this. We have no choice. We've left it up to others - yes, Democrats - and they are inept and continual losers. Haven't you had enough? Run for office, any office!

There you go. 5 Easy Pieces. Start tonight. And spread this around. ALL HANDS ON DECK!
-- Michael Moore


Re-post of a favorite: In God We Trust?

Re-post of a favorite: We need to force the corporations to pay a living wage...

Five OBG posts from June/July 2007

In October 2005, Libby was indicted by a federal grand jury concerning the investigation of the leak of the covert identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame Wilson.[5][6][7] Plame's position at the CIA was considered classified information.[5] Libby was indicted on five counts relating to the Plame affair: Two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, and one count of obstruction of justice. Libby resigned all three government positions immediately after the indictment was announced.[8]
In the subsequent federal trial, United States v. Libby, the jury convicted Libby on four of the five counts in the indictment (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one count of making false statements) and acquitted on the second count of making false statements.[9][10] The day after his conviction in that trial, he resigned his later appointment as senior advisor at the Hudson Institute (January 1, 2006 – March 7, 2007).[11][12]
From Wikipedia - Fox News lies again.

Religiously speaking

You want the guns? You can't handle the guns. GunFail in America

Uncle in custody after fatally shooting niece in Detroit
Detroit Free Press
A 65-year-old man is in Detroit police custody for allegedly shooting and killing his niece, police said. The woman, who was in her 30s, was dead ...

18-year-old is 2nd suspect charged in shooting death of McCalla teen in Hueytown
A second person has been charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old McCalla boy killed during an illegal gun transaction and robbery attempt in ...

Dispute over hot dog buns led to deadly gas station shooting, victim's friend says
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Police are asking for the public's help in finding an accused shooter (right) and his accomplice after a man was killed at a QuikTrip gas station on ...
Officer heard gunshots at DeKalb gas station then found man dead - Atlanta Journal Constitution
Police search for two men suspected of the fatal shooting at QT - FOX 5 Atlanta

Man killed at Raleigh hotel shooting, police open investigation
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police are investigating a homicide at a hotel at the 2900 block of Capital Boulevard, according to authorities.

Shooting reported at University of Utah
Salt Lake Tribune
A woman is dead and a man has a self-inflicted injury after a shooting at the University of Utah, campus police say. The man fatally shot the woman ...
At least one dead as police respond to shooting at University of Utah -
Woman dead, man in grave condition in U of U campus shooting - KUTV 2News
University of Utah Police Respond to Fatal Shooting Near Campus - Good4Utah

Teen critically injured in Aurora shooting
Chicago Tribune
A Yorkville teen was critically injured in a shooting on Aurora's West Side, according to police. The shooting occurred around 10:55 p.m. Wednesday ...

Dashcam video appears to show Fort Worth cop shooting man in the back
(CNN) A newly released video appears to show a Texas police officer shooting a black man in the back in July as he was walking away, contradicting ...
Video Appears to Show Cop Shooting Black Man Walking Away - ABC News
New Video Casts Doubt on Police Account of Shooting of Black Man Left Paralyzed -
Texas police officer shoots man in back – video - RT

Rookie of the Year cop shot in the line of duty
Fox News
Officer shot trying to arrest a man with an outstanding warrant, is in stable condition.

Cops: Teen accidentally shot in head at East Bay shelter
An 18-year-old man suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and died in what police described as an accidental shooting at a Bay Point ...

Weatherford Police Officer Shot, Hospitalized in Stable Condition
NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A Weatherford police officer is hospitalized and undergoing surgery after being shot Thursday night, police say. Weatherford police said Officer Chris ...

Four shot in less than two hours Wednesday
Four men were shot in less than two hours throughout Cincinnati Wednesday night, police said. The victims were found at three separate scenes in ...

Dania Beach, Florida, shooting kills boy walking home from birthday party, police say
CBS News
DANIA BEACH, Fla. -- Authorities say an 8-year-old boy was fatally shot while walking home from a birthday party near his South Florida home.
8-Year-Old Shot While Walking Home From Birthday Party - CBS Local

How the rich folks get that way...

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