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Sun Mar 22, 2015 at 07:02 PM PDT

Jerry Brown skewering Ted Cruz

by Beastly Fool

Governor Brown used to be known for running for president AND for turning a well timed phrase:

And this morning, interviewed on "Meet The Press, speaking of Ted Cruz, who'd appeared on "Late Night" the night before, Brown said, "you can't just sit around and engage in rhetoric... [Cruz] betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of data - it's shocking - and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office."

Then back to the environment, "this has to be almost at the level of a crusade to wake people up to take the necessary steps intelligently, carefully, to move the world forward."

He replied to the obvious question that if he were ten years younger, he'd be running for president again. At 66, he was still ready to go. But he's 76 now...

You get a sense that he's never lost his love of rhetorical jousting. And with the timely skewering of Cruz, and the rare national coverage of climate change he answered to - and his ability to shred the climate change deniers - seems he's still got some sunny race days ahead...


What role might Jerry Brown play in the next cycle?

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  Up until this Tuesday morning, my wife and I watched the Rachel Maddow Show through a Roku channel that streamed the entire show that had been archived from the night before. At least four days a week, we sat down with our coffee after breakfast and enjoyed a usually 43 minute commercial free video podcast, courtesy of Roku's Nowhere Channel and MSNBC.

   Then on Tuesday, they changed the format and cut back the video podcast by more than half, explaining the show was no longer available in its entire format. So for the last three days, our morning routine has been somewhat adrift without the full dose of Rachel. Seventeen minutes out of 43 just isn't the same, especially when you know the rest of the show is otherwise being viewed as produced.

   The matter came up at dinner with friends last night, who are also Rachel fans that felt our consternation (what WILL we do?). They know our arguments with cable, its costs and contractual servitude, and the penalty we paid upon release from this lopsided merry-go-round.

   The escape was precipitated by financial difficulties where we were forced to cut expenses, and the cable bill loomed large in the monthly nut. So we became members of the cord cutting universe.       (more below)

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I'm proud to have voted for Barack Obama to be our president, twice in primaries and twice in general elections. It's a privilege to vote for candidates who believe in science, and in correcting human errors where the environment is concerned, as this beautiful planet is the only one we have.

I'm proud of our leaders who shaped and promoted the Violence Against Women Act, who seek to end sexual abuse and rape in the military, while also supporting in very practical ways the health and healing of families in their homes and communities. The champions of women's rights in our party have moved the cause forward with an enthusiasm that grows with every new success.

I'm proud of our legislators and governors who vocally support raising the minimum wage, who press vigorously to create new well paying jobs for their states and districts. And who also stand to expand rather than diminish voting rights and the ease of voting.

I'm proud that we stand for responsible energy production by promoting alternative resources over fossil fuels, and making the argument that this is good for employment while also helping clean up our air and water.




do you believe the millions of non-voters will change their minds by:

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Believe it. Nominated just this last Saturday at the Montana Democratic convention, Amanda Curtis might be considered by some to be a token candidate. But if you look at her background and her determination, her affinities with the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, this woman is progressive in her heart and soul. And she's already calling out the corporations for buying influence in state government.

In her TED talk - presented at the Butte Public Library - Amanda Curtis offered the slogan "Show Up And Say Yes!" as an answer to the apathy among voters and citizens when it comes to participating on election day and in civic affairs. She's a math teacher, and her father's a Union guy. Union insurance paid for her dentistry and health care as a child, and her family on occasion needed food stamps - so she knows what workers face in this country.

As a State Representative, Amanda has used YouTube to great effect, chronicling the 87 days of the last legislative session with 87 videos, one for each day. Once she finds her stride as a candidate, which admittedly has to happen fast, she can use the YouTubes to define and contrast issues with her republican opponent with great clarity and at reasonable length, especially to call him out for refusing to state positions that favor moneyed interests over those of the Montana people.

If she takes her opponent apart issue by issue this way on YouTube, detailing a new issue every day or two (in good humor), Ms. Curtis can force her opponent to spell out his support for positions that run counter to Montanans' interests, to show his alliance with the national party and the too often corporate ownership of legislation. There IS enough time, and with national democrats bringing key support at pivotal moments, this could prove to be an exiting and successful race for soon to be Senator Curtis.

We can always use another democratic woman in the Senate, another natural progressive, born and raised with well used plates and discount silverware at the dinner table, with family pride and democracy often on her mind.

We can support her in our own way by also showing up and saying yes!

Instead of dissing her chances and blowing off the possibility of her potential win in Montana, let's see if we can pull off a progressive surprise, and see if she can't be mentored into the senate by some of the more seasoned progressives, so she can then serve Montana and our country with an even wider intelligence and greater distinction.

I honestly believe she can do it, with some help from her party and those of us who want to see this happen. Especially to help keep the Senate in democratic hands...

Let's do this. Let's help Amanda Curtis win Montana!

Amanda Curtis YouTube: Amanda Curtis YouTube channel

Amanda Curtis TED talk from Butte Public Library:


Here's an example:

"If you hate what republicans have done to governing, if you can't stand their views on women's issues, or the minimum wage, or immigration, or diversity, or the environment... if you think we need to repair our bridges and roads and schools, and hold corporations accountable, if you think government ought to serve the people rather than the rich and connected, then you need to think about voting. Seriously. Think about voting. It's the most important thing a citizen can do."

People could submit scripts and the Kos staff could choose one or two to promote creatively. An voice only ad could be placed in radio and similar audio contexts, and a video could be produced for tv, cable and web placement.

Have some fundraisers, submit some to friendly organizations to possibly partner with, and let's begin strategizing where to place the ads to maximize the get out the vote actions this fall.

The commitment and creativity among the Kos community runs deep and wide. Clearly, the issues mentioned in the above 30 second spot enjoy a strong consensus here.

A friendly ad contest with some well managed follow through could help stir voters off their couches and into the voting booths, even with the snark it would likely generate here...

We could have a collective brainstorm as to where to place the ad(s). Say maybe public radio or pandora or college radio station websites, etc. And timing - each state has it's own registration deadlines - in strategic districts and states, there might be a coordinated effort in the weeks just before the registration deadline, with a second effort just before election day.

It seems the emphasis ought to be simply and straightforwardly on voting itself, especially where demographics tell us that turnout is key.

If we could get some friendly fundraisers on board, this could be a truly national effort, hatched here in the community at Kos...

click below for more...

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Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 10:41 AM PDT

Madness, Shame, and the Church

by Beastly Fool

Mental illness is one of the thorniest issues of our time. It devastates individuals and families, with the extreme of suicide ending over 38,000 lives in the most recent year they were counted in the U.S.  The National Institute of Mental Illness reports that over 26% (more than 57 million adults over age 18) suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year, in the U.S. alone. These are numbers - statistics - an unforgiving graphic of the deep psychic woundedness at the heart of our society.

Rick Warren lost a son to suicide one year ago, and this last weekend nobly convened a conference to start a mental health ministry at his Saddleback Church, and in the larger church community. His grief has been both private and public for the last year. And like most people affected by this, he still has more to process. In that sense this conference might be a great idea.

Reporting from an interview about this, Warren said the family kept Matthew's illness a secret from the public not because of shame, but 'because it was his own story to tell.'

That reflects the common misunderstanding that the ones afflicted with mental disorders have the competency to advocate and speak clearly for themselves, even when they've not received the help they need to fully heal their depression or anxiety. Yes, the one suffering has a story to tell, but they may or may not want to tell it. And to tell it, he or she might need some safe and reliable people to help them speak it clearly, to detail the range and depth of their suffering, and to sort through all the inevitable confusion. A daily pill or two promoted by the pharmaceutical industry might help balance some chemistry in the brain, but it doesn't do much to tell their story. And again, who says every story has to be told?

From such a celebrity minister, to suggest he never had any shame about his son's affliction, that his son Mathew would in due time find his voice and articulate some healing message from the wreckage of his despair, without professional and trustworthy support - well, the assertion stretches credulity. (He may well have had professional support - I don't know. But trustworthy? As experienced from his own perspective? That's a challenge with many diagnosed individuals. They don't know who or how much they can trust.)

Coming from a family myself where suicide has visited, the high expectations mixed with frustration are forgivable... in the private sphere... In public, Warren's voice speaks to many thousands, possibly millions, and on this issue, among the public, there is indeed shame. From the church, too often: silence, neglect and abuse - like so many other institutions. And within families, where some might deny any shame while the one suffering remains bereft of reliable, authentic connection. It's possible Mr. Warren never felt any shame about either the church's or the family's role in mental illness, but to promote that as an ideal before a fair and open discussion of what shame is and how it accompanies mental health problems, that strikes me as irresponsible.

To me, and many others who have lived with it or near it, mental illness rarely escapes the stigma and shame associated with others' misunderstandings and judgements. To deny the shame is to continuously be subject to the slings and arrows of those misunderstandings and misjudgements, and the hurt that attends those moments. That hurt IS shame and needs to be addressed directly and honestly.

I can understand if Mr. Warren was saying that an individual or family ought not to have any shame in seeking treatment, but the reality is that 99% of those in this situation live with shame most every day. The problem in seeking treatment is how to get people to step up in spite of the shame, how to help them feel safe enough with the intake and orientation process that the difficulty is being handled with appropriate discretion and care. That's one of the first steps in mitigating shame.

This is such a huge subject - the church, mental illness and shame - that the sorting through, even in the lives of single individuals, can take years, or even decades. The mentally ill routinely feel shamed by the rejection and misunderstandings of their own families, their communities, their churches... This is a waste of human talent and energy, and seriously derails entire lives and even families.

The Huffington Post article continues: "the Southern Baptist-affiliated nonprofit Lifeway Research, released (a report) in September, (and) found that close to half of evangelical, fundamentalist and born-again Christians believe prayer and Bible study alone can solve mental illness. Among Americans as a whole, about one in three shared that view. Nevertheless, 68 percent of Americans said they believed they would be welcome in church if they were mentally ill." (emphasis mine)

68% believed they would be welcome if they were mentally ill... hmmm... My bet is that this survey did not make any distinctions regarding the participants. And the question itself tends to beg an answer viewing the church in its most favorable light. It does not say that 68% of mentally ill people feel welcome in church, or that mentally ill people were explicitly asked. Mentally ill people (and it would be great if we could find another useful descriptor, as this one carries so much baggage) - those diagnosed - too often feel as though they have no support in any social situation, let alone the church. And those who do show up probably hide whatever evidence they can of any serious difficulty.

Women in our culture often find the church so patriarchal that it's not a safe place even if you're perfectly sane. And many men feel they must first conform to some religious standard of male privilege and agreement just to show up on sundays. Sexual abuse survivors, LGBT individuals, anyone not of the dominant group or community has to adjust their social manner to attend most any church. 'The church' has trouble ministering to relatively sane people, so I imagine they've got a distance to travel before they can become a reliable resource for those wrestling with depression or bipolar or PTSD and so on.

Again, those diagnosed generally feel as if they have to keep the fact a secret whenever entering any new social situation. And even when things are going well, they learn to become careful with who they share these secrets with, if at all.

How can they be expected to tell their own story, when it is too often riddled with an experience approaching that of a hidden apartheid, where the afflicted are expected to heal rapidly like the latest wounded olympic champion held up in the media's glare, even when no-one in their immediate experience seems to understand the ongoing struggle and shame of their daily predicament?

More beyond the fold...

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Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM PST

Rachel Maddow deserves an Emmy

by Beastly Fool

One of the comments below says that Rachel Maddow deserves a Pulitzer, if all the investigations into Chris Christie cough up actual convictions, especially if they connect directly to the governor. I couldn't agree more, except Pulitzers are for print reporting. So, let's say, she'll likely be up for an Emmy.

So, following from Doc2 and Misterwade's comments below, I finally figured out how to edit this, and instead of "Rachel is Wasting Precious Time" - they helped me realize my sentiments actually fall closer to wanting her to win an Emmy.

The following is what I originally wrote, and I'll offer a couple thoughts at the close:

My wife and I are dedicated Rachel Maddow fans, our singularly most progressive/liberal commitment beyond voting itself. Sad, I know. We ought to get more connected, I know, more plugged in. But we keep the fires hot with our friends and family, and the cause isn't completely wasted on us.

But this diary isn't about that - it's about Rachel's obsession/near obsession with Governor Christie. Sure her partner's from Jersey, and she's probably a regular across the GWB, but the rest of the liberal world could get by on maybe just a two minute headline on the Christie story when it's salient on any given day. To crowd out everything else day after day after day, just to keep claiming some bragging rights to the being most pugnatious reporter on the beat - well, we'll give you that.

But what about the rest of the issues, like those represented here at Kos, most every day? Sure, they're sometimes part of the mix on Maddow's show, but three weeks plus of wall-to-wall Christie coverage? It's gotten to be a bit over the top.

2014 elections might be won or lost by a sliver of interest in a given issue or two in who knows how many districts and states. Now is the time to be defining the issues and clarifying potential strategies, as well as keeping up on present developments. The daily airtime devoted to the Christie scandal (and one has to ask - does the media prefer scandal or honest information?) could be dedicated instead to focusing the loyalists on the organizing, reframing and logistics on the ground.

To have a megaphone like Maddow's and squander it so myopically, when the other fish to fry are practically jumping into the pan - the metaphors just don't mix all that well. It doesn't make much sense. She can do better and has in fact done some great reporting across the liberal spectrum.  It's just that lately she's been stuck in some scratchy Christie groove skipping and repeating like like a tired old record album...

My opinion.

NOW, what's interesting is that I didn't get how negative that all seemed, griping about Rachel Maddow, it seems. It was much more just a spontaneous almost stream of consciousness reflection on one impression I've had of the Maddow show lately.

Please don't get me wrong. I've been watching Rachel's show religiously, along with Melissa Harris-Perry, archived as they are through our ROKU box. The two of them preach a progressivism that's refreshing and compelling, and the morning doesn't really start until the shows are done.

But with this diary, and the comments it produced (the first 37 or so), I learned something about this community, about its passion and its commitment.

I'm glad I got the bug to write, even if I do need to frame things more from a positive reference point...

It's now another hour later, and I've read and digested more of the comments, and responded directly to some of them. One comment on Christie as New Jersey's biggest bully, and we might say, Bully-In-Chief, this interaction sealed the deal for me. I'm a total believer now that every time Rachel has covered any aspect of this story, it has been vital to moving it forward, to keeping it alive, to making it stick, until the mainstream took it seriously. I'm onboard with that now. Who wants a Bully for president?

That's what it boils down to for me now. Besides getting corruption out of government and keeping the GOP as far from the White House as possible...


Is Rachel Maddow's coverage of the Christie scandal

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Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 11:43 AM PDT

Kill The Gerrymander!

by Beastly Fool

Just throwing it out there:

There has to be some constitutional way to bring a logistically fair redistricting process to all 50 states.

There is!  A carefully written amendment that commissions (the most politically neutral) retired federal judges as masters for redistricting in all 50 states and territories.

With computer science as sophisticated as it is, there is no logical argument for any state to have proportionally more representatives from one party than another.

If it takes a constitutional amendment to make this happen, then it has to get started somewhere, don't ya think???


Democracy holds that all people are represented fairly...

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Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 10:48 AM PDT

Science and the Public's ROI

by Beastly Fool

Mark Zuckerberg, in today's Washington Post, writes about teaming up with several other Silicon Valley leaders to promote more 21st century thinking on immigration - fairly progressive stuff.

But what really caught my attention was one of his bullet points for public change, this one regarding who exactly pays for the research that corporations exploit for their shareholders' profit:

●Investment in breakthrough discoveries in scientific research and assurance that the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just to the few.
The most salient phrase "the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just to the few" speaks volumes to the billions and billions that have been paid from the US Treasury to fund basic research, both in our universities, through institutions funded by the NIH, the CDC, as well as non-pharma research, like for defense, or other engineering. Virtually all working scientists were trained at public universities, supported by public money.

And what do the corporations benefiting from this generosity do. They maximize their profits, often at the expense of the federal government. For instance, Big Pharma. They have probably the most lucrative agreements with Medicare and Medicaid and government funded Health Insurance companies, all in tandem with the most favorable tax breaks that corporations can arrange. And this is only Big Pharma.

Scientific research, IT research, medical device research, telecommunications research research, oil and gas exploration technologies, the list goes on and on - these have all benefited, and continue to benefit from public funding of research and education.

When a breakthrough is achieved, it is often not the very first new insight that makes the biggest splash. It is often somewhere later on, with some yet to be determined patent, even some slightly altered patent (technically, but not essentially altered from the original) that winds up making the windfall. Some variations of this can be found in most scientific work that finds its way into consumers' lives.

That the corporations have us cowed about their research costing them so very much while at the same time returning so little to the original coffers that fueled their success, this is shameful.

There are exceptions, certainly. But as soon as the typical modern corporate leadership takes charge of P&L, the more ethical standards of fair play get lost.

 -  Zuckerberg's opinion piece


Do you think corporations ought to pay the government for research that led to their success?

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They are used to keep senators from a simple majority vote, to keep the senate from simple majority rule, and to keep the equivalent of a veto in the hands of a senate minority. The words, "Nuclear Option" are meant to strike fear into the listener, as if fire and brimstone will rain down if the majority has the courage to simply works its will.

Today on Nevada NPR, Harry Reid suggested he's open to reconsidering his position on changing the filibuster procedure in the senate, changing the rules to allow for an up or down vote on judicial nominees. It shouldn't be just up to him, but we all know his views are crucial here, so it's progress. He should have figured out by now that he's standing in the way of history, and the junior membership won't tolerate that indefinitely.

Preventing democracy from working is a subversion of the constitution, and anyone who's ever passed a fifth grade civics class knows it. It's not just the judicial nominations, but others as well.

That we have over 80 federal judgeships vacant, and other department heads waiting to be confirmed and freshman GOP senators feeling their oats by holding up whatever action they can on the senate floor just because they can, it's time for some sanity to be restored to the process.

Restore majority rule. Restore simple majority votes on all nominees, with talking filibusters only and strict limitations on debate. End the secret holds.

Take back the senate.


100% of us.

To keep our country safe, we depend on the best men and women soldiers in the world.

To keep our homes and streets and roads safe, we depend on our police and fire and highway patrols.

To keep our money safe, we depend on the FDIC, the Federal Reserve the U.S. Treasury and other federal agencies who maintain safeguards and rules that keep our financial systems running smoothly.

To keep our food safe and well supplied, we depend on food inspectors at the Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Departments of Commerce and Transportation.  The national weather service and EPA also make a difference in the water we drink and the food we eat.

To keep our health as safe as possible, the Center For Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health play major roles in monitoring and recommending our responses to health epidemics like flu and polio, HIV and new strains of bacteria. We all depend daily on their continued research and response to these health issues as well as new treatments for illnesses.

To keep our public and private sectors functioning well, we depend on a world class educational system, from pre-school, to the finest graduate programs imaginable. We could not begin to compete or properly staff the above government agencies without the best education possible.

There are many, more specific examples of how, every day, all of us, 100% of us, depend on the government.

An exhaustive list of ALL the ways government benefits its citizens, from favorable tax breaks for investors and well-connected corporate interests (see F-35 and big Pharma) – an exhaustive list that honestly includes the wealthiest beneficiaries of governmental largesse would clearly demonstrate that rather than some specious 47% of Americans dependent on the government, that the number is actually much, much closer to 100%.

And the 100% truth deserves to be spoken for all to hear.  

And what we all can agree on is that we want the government that we depend on to be as successful as it can possibly be.

To want that success fairly, for 100% of Americans, ought to be the common ground we all seek in our relations with one another.

It's an ideal, to be sure, but our country was founded on them...  


Used to keep Senators and the American public from the common belief that presidential appointments are to be given a timely and fair hearing, as well as a simple up or down vote, to determine if a majority of Senators approve or disapprove.

Present Senate rules allow a minority, even a single Senator, to place an indefinite hold on one or several nominees. These rules allow, and in a contentious political climate, one might say these rules even encourage the minority to obstruct multiple nominees by the hold process and by the filibuster rules, violating the Constitutional balance and structure of the Senate, and holding up the proper functioning of the federal government.

There are presently more than 80 vacancies on the federal bench, with more likely in the next few years. There are several cabinet positions and assistant administrative and regulatory positions to be filled. It is fairly well known that the delay on filling these vacancies has more to do with Senate obstruction than with available and qualified professionals to do these jobs.

So, to restore sanity to our present nominations process, and to keep the procedural logistics as simple as possible, I believe our Vice President, as Presiding Officer of the Senate, ought to arrange for a rules change to expedite all outstanding nominations and insist that committee hearings be held within 30 days of a candidate's announcement and floor debate for each be limited to 5 hours before determining whether a 51 vote majority can confirm each nominee.

This action by the Vice President would be a statement that the majority is in charge of the Senate, and obstruction cannot be tolerated as a routine way of doing business. Minority views will be heard, but elections have consequences, they matter.

I have formulated the above into a White House petition, which I link below. If you agree with my ideas, or even think they deserve a wider discussion, please take a look at my petition and maybe sign it so it can meet the threshold there of 150 signatures, allowing it to be seen by the public who visits the White House site.

Link to Petition below:  

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