Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: The Zombies Live

The Zombies, one of the original British Invasion bands, played their 1964 jazz-tinged hit "She's Not There" in Metropolis Studios, West London, January 2011. The performance included founding members Colin Blunstone, vocals, and Rod Argent, keyboards.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson Debunks Fox News On Climate Change

In an episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson debunked the claim made by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Fox News commentators that since the "climate is always changing," there's no such thing as climate change caused by human activity. Tyson contrasted the natural climactic changes in the past with the unnatural changes occurring now. Watch:

TYSON: We just can't seem to stop burning up all those buried trees from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal, and the remains of ancient plankton, in the form of oil and gas. If we could, we'd be home free climate wise. Instead, we're dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn't seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can't seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves. All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need. Why can't we summon the ingenuity and courage of the generations that came before us? The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What's our excuse?

Paul Krugman: Republicans Controlled By Right-Wing Extremists

Paul Krugman writes that the Republican party is controlled by right-wing extremists, as seen in its rhetoric on Obamacare and inflammatory references to Democratic leaders. The GOP has become the party of Reagan, the "anti-government fantatic"–and to have one major party that is so irrational is bad for the country:

What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

...Mr. Obama...made a real try at bipartisanship, nearly losing his chance at health reform by frittering away months in a vain attempt to get a few Republicans on board. At this point, however, it’s clear that any Democratic president will face total opposition from a Republican Party that is completely dominated by right-wing extremists.

For today’s G.O.P. is, fully and finally, the party of Ronald Reagan — not Reagan the pragmatic politician, who could and did strike deals with Democrats, but Reagan the antigovernment fanatic, who warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. It’s a party that sees modest efforts to improve Americans’ economic and health security not merely as unwise, but as monstrous. It’s a party in which paranoid fantasies about the other side — Obama is a socialist, Democrats have totalitarian ambitions — are mainstream. And, as a result, it’s a party that fundamentally doesn’t accept anyone else’s right to govern.

In the short run, Republican extremism may be good for Democrats, to the extent that it prompts a voter backlash. But in the long run, it’s a very bad thing for America. We need to have two reasonable, rational parties in this country. And right now we don’t.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gopnik: "Christopher Michael-Martinez's Father Gets It Right About Guns"

Writing in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik (left) confirms grieving father Richard Martinez's statement that his son, Christopher, 20, died because of the NRA and cowardly, corrupt politicians. Gopnik also refutes the slogans and euphemisms we've been subjected to for years, including the asinine "Guns don't kill people..." and the nonsensical "Why don't they ban cars?" Such absurd clich├ęs prevent us from confronting the plain truths about the epidemic of gun violence in America:

...Why did Christopher Michael-Martinez die? Because the N.R.A. and the politicians they intimidate enable people to get their hands on weapons and ammunition whose only purpose is to kill other people as quickly and as lethally as possible. How do we know that they are the ‘because’ in this? Because every other modern country has suffered from the same kinds of killings, from the same kinds of sick kids, and every other country has changed its laws to stop them from happening again, and in every other country it hasn’t happened again. (Australia is the clearest case—a horrific gun massacre, new laws, no more gun massacres—but the same is true of Canada, Great Britain, you name it.)

...Every time we tell the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Plain speech matters because when we speak clearly we are more likely to speak truth than when we retreat into slogan and euphemism; avoiding euphemism takes courage because it almost always points plainly to responsibility. To say “torture” instead of “enhanced interrogation” is hard, because it means that someone we placed in power was a torturer. That’s a hard truth and a brutal responsibility to accept. But it’s so.

Speaking clearly also lets us examine the elements of a proposition plainly. We know that slogans masquerading as plain speech are mere rhetoric because, on a moment’s inspection, they reveal themselves to be absurd. “The best answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” reveals itself to be a lie on a single inspection: the best answer is to not let the bad guy have a gun. “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” No: obviously, people with guns kill more people than people without them. Why not ban knives or cars, which can be instruments of death, too? Because these things were designed to help people do things other than kill people. “Gun control” means controlling those things whose first purpose is to help people kill other people. (I’ve written at length about farmers and hunting rifles, and of how they’re properly controlled in Canada. In any case, if guns were controlled merely as well as cars and alcohol, we’d be a long way along.) And the idea that you can be pro-life and still be pro-gun: if your primary concern is actually with the sacredness of life, then you have to stand with Richard Martinez, in memory of his son.

There, that isn’t hard, is it? The war against euphemism matters most because it forces us to look at the truth we already know. The actual consequences of the N.R.A. and the gun policy it frightens those craven politicians into sponsoring is the death of kids like Christopher Michael-Martinez. This truth may not triumph tomorrow, but the truth remains the truth. It would be nice if the President, who knows all this perfectly well, put aside his conciliatory manner and his search for consensus and just said it. Speak up, Mr. President! Speak plainly. Just say, “Last night, I heard Chris’s dad. He’s right.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Grieving Father Condemns "Rudderless Idiots In Government"

In the aftermath of America's latest gun rampage, Richard Martinez, father of the slain Christopher Martinez, 20, lashed out at the NRA and the politicians who are bribed to do the group's bidding. Martinez followed that up with an interview on CNN, in which he asked, "What kind of a message does it send to the world when we have such a rudderless bunch of idiots in government? ...Where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell are these people who we spend so much money on?... My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook. Those parents lost little kids. It's bad enough that I lost my 20 year old. But I had 20 years with my son. That's all I'll ever have. Those people lost their little 6- and 7-year-olds. How do you think they feel? And who's talking to them now? Who's doing anything for them now?" Watch the outrage of a father who lost his child to senseless gun violence and politicians' cowardice and inaction:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Father Of Shooting Victim Blames NRA And Politicians

Richard Martinez is the father of 20-year-old Christopher Martinez, victim of America's latest gun massacre. In a heartbreaking speech at a press conference, Martinez condemned the NRA and the corrupt politicians who are paid off to do their bidding. Watch:

MARTINEZ: Our son Chris Martinez and six others are dead. Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does. Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, “Stop this madness!” We don't have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, “Not one more!”

See also "Christopher Michael-Martinez's Father Gets It Right About Guns" by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker.

"In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" by Marcel Proust

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust. Translated by James Grieve. 558 pp. Penguin Classics. $20.00 (paperback).

I’m in the midst of reading Marcel Proust’s 3,000-4,000 page modern masterpiece, “In Search of Lost Time.” I recently commented on the first volume, “Swann’s Way,” and am now focusing on the second, “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower,” which centers around adolescent love.

“Swann’s Way” concluded with Charles Swann’s tormented love for the courtesan Odette de Crecy. In the second volume, Odette is now Mrs. Swann, and the unnamed narrator has a brief romance with the Swanns’ daughter, Gilberte. This romance is a prelude to the infatuations the narrator has with a group of girls that he meets while vacationing for the summer with his grandmother at a seaside hotel in Balbec.

As always with Proust, the themes revolve around time and impermanence. The narrator reflects upon the old women these adolescent “young girls in flower” will become. He also conveys the shyness and excitement–and frustrations–of adolescent attraction.

As in the first volume, Proust draws unforgettable characters, including the narrator’s friend, Robert de Saint-Loup, a young aristocrat with leftist sympathies, and the artist Elstir, who loves expounding upon his aesthetic theories. Many of the characters at the Grand Hotel, including those on the lower echelons of high society, are social climbers with a penchant for spiteful observations and an acute awareness of their own standing.

James Grieve’s new translation clearly has the modern American reader in mind, with the narrator’s young girlfriends using such expressions as “lounge lizard,” “getup,” “buzz off,” “Isn’t he the limit?” and “cramming.” At times these expressions are jarring; one wonders whether Proust heard anything like their French equivalent. This, however, is a minor point in a translation that fully captures the beauties of the seascape in summer, as well as the passions and transitory nature of youth.

Written in memory of my mother, Dorothy Tone (1923-2006), on whose bookshelves I came upon the writings of Proust.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Bob Dylan In "Don't Look Back"

Dont Look Back - Bob Dylan by rybthr

To mark the birthday of Bob Dylan, born today in 1941, let's watch the opening scene from "Don't Look Back" (1967), D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of Dylan's three-week 1965 concert tour in England. He's shown above holding cards that contain the lyrics, or variations thereof, from his "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which alluded to the political conflicts of the 1960s. Poet Allen Ginsberg is at the left of the screen. Joan Baez and Donovan also appear in the film.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Homeless LGBT Youth On Religion And Family Rejection

We recently took a look at the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter, food and health care for homeless LGBT youth in New York City. In the following video, four LGBT youths speak about being driven from their homes following their family's rejecting them on religious grounds. The Center issued the video to show the harm these young people suffer and to "encourage people to reach out to the leaders of their faith traditions on behalf of our youths." Watch:

You can also see each of the four youth's complete interviews by visiting the Ali Forney Center's web page and scrolling down.

Gallup: Uninsured Rate Drops Following Obamacare Health Exchanges

Gallup reports, "The uninsured rate for U.S. adults in April was 13.4%, down from 15.0% in March. This is the lowest monthly uninsured rate recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking it in January 2008, besting the previous low of 13.9% in September of that year." This drop started as the health insurance marketplace opened under Obamacare:

The uninsured rate peaked at 18.0% in the third quarter of 2013, but has consistently declined since then. This downward trend in the uninsured rate coincided with the health insurance marketplace exchanges opening in October 2013, and accelerated as the March 31 deadline to purchase health insurance coverage approached -- and passed -- for most uninsured Americans. The Obama administration decided in late March to extend the deadline to April 15 for those who had already begun the enrollment process.

...The uninsured rate was lower in April than in the fourth quarter of 2013 across nearly every key demographic group. The rate dropped more among blacks than any other demographic group, falling 7.1 percentage points to 13.8%. Hispanics were expected to disproportionately benefit from the Affordable Care Act -- commonly referred to as "Obamacare" -- because they are the subgroup with the highest uninsured rate. Although the percentage of uninsured Hispanics, at 33.2%, is down 5.5 points since the end of 2013, this rate is still the highest by far across key demographic groups.

Similarly, the uninsured rate among lower-income Americans -- those with an annual household income of less than $36,000 -- has also dropped by 5.5 points, to 25.2%, since the fourth quarter of 2013.

Young Americans were an important target in public outreach efforts for enrollment because they can potentially subsidize the cost of insurance for those who are older and presumably less healthy. The uninsured rate among 18- to 25-year-olds fell 4.5 points, to 19.0%, from the fourth quarter of 2013. However, the uninsured rate declined even more among 35- to 64-year-olds, falling 4.8 points to 13.2%. The uninsured rate among 26- to 34-year-olds continued to decline, but at a rate more similar to the national average. These data do not show a disproportionately high rate of decline among younger Americans.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thom Hartmann: American Democracy No Longer Works

Thom Hartmann states that thanks to 40 years of Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United, the power of the wealthy to fund campaigns has resulted in the demise of a functioning American democracy. Instead, we live in an oligarchy in which politicians answer only to the will of their wealthy donors. He refers to a Princeton study that reached that conclusion, as well as Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent from Citizens United, in which he said that the ruling resulted in a cynical and disenchanted population and cowed politicians. Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Colbert: Does Rove Have Traumatic Brain Injury?

Stephen Colbert mocked Karl Rove's nonsensical statement that Hillary Clinton's wearing sunglasses upon leaving the hospital means that she suffered brain damage. He pointed out other "symptoms": during the Benghazi hearings, Clinton showed a "mastery of facts, and an unshakable confidence" while wearing glasses that "are like orthopedic shoes for your face." Colbert is really worried about Rove, though, who said that Clinton spent 30 days in the hospital when she only spent three. He surmised, "He is protecting his skull with a thick cushion of meat." Watch:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wingnut Enraged At "Operation American Spring" Failure

Operation American Spring called for "as many as ten million" to assemble this past Friday in Washington, DC, in order to force the current government, including Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Holder, from office, appoint a new one more to the liking of the Tea Party and hold a tribunal comprised of "those with the principles of a West, Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Gov Walker, Sessions, Gowdy, Jordan." Well, roughly 9,999,950 of the 10 million failed to show up, giving rise to hilarious Twitter and Facebook comments under #AmericanSpringexcuses. One outraged wingnut wondered where everyone was; another explained that floods kept them away. Obama unleashed those floods, I suppose. Watch:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Belle," Directed By Amma Asante

"Belle," directed by Amma Asante and based a true story, centers on the daughter of a deceased African slave woman and a white navy captain, Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) in late 18th-century England. Sir John, who must return to a sea expedition, takes his child, Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), to his uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), a judge, and his aunt, Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson), and asks them to raise her with her cousin Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon). The Mansfields defy convention by raising Dido as their daughter amidst aristocratic splendor, but they bow to convention by not allowing her to dine at the table on important occasions. The film grows in tension as Lord Mansfield must judge an important case in 1783 concerning slave traders who intentionally drowned a shipload of slaves (the Zong massacre) at sea and demanded insurance compensation. At the same time, Dido and a young aspiring lawyer (Sam Reid) who is passionately against slavery, fall in love. Through these events, Dido confronts her contradictory situation and compellingly comes of age as a black woman raised in comfort and even inheriting property, yet subject to racism in a society just beginning to confront the ugly realities of slavery.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Roy Orbison Live

Singing ballads that conveyed vulnerability in a falsetto voice made Roy Orbison unique among male performers in the early rock era. He stood still in concert, wearing sunglasses and dressed in black, all of which gave him an air of mystery. In his biography "Chronicles, Vol. 1," Bob Dylan wrote, "Orbison...transcended all the genres - folk, country, rock and roll or just about anything. ...He could sound mean and nasty on one line and then sing in a falsetto voice like Frankie Valli in the next. ...Orbison was deadly serious - no pollywog and no fledgling juvenile. There wasn't anything else on the radio like him.” Above, Orbison sang "Only the Lonely" on Austin City Limits, 1982.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Krugman Refutes Conservative Income Inequality Myths

In considering Institutional Investor's "rich list" of the top 25 hedge fund managers in its Alpha magazine, Paul Krugman writes that "their good fortune refutes several popular myths about income inequality in America," including false images maintained by conservatives regarding "economic heroes" and "job creators." Once these myths are dismantled, Krugman concludes, it ought not be so hard to demand that taxes increase on the rich:

...Conservatives want you to believe that the big rewards in modern America go to innovators and entrepreneurs, people who build businesses and push technology forward. But that’s not what those hedge fund managers do for a living; they’re in the business of financial speculation, which John Maynard Keynes characterized as “anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.” Or since they make much of their income from fees, they’re actually in the business of convincing other people that they can anticipate average opinion about average opinion.

...we’re still living in the shadow of a crisis brought on by a runaway financial industry. Total catastrophe was avoided by bailing out banks at taxpayer expense, but we’re still nowhere close to making up for job losses in the millions and economic losses in the trillions. Given that history, do you really want to claim that America’s top earners — who are mainly either financial managers or executives at big corporations — are economic heroes?

Finally, a close look at the rich list supports the thesis made famous by Thomas Piketty in his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” — namely, that we’re on our way toward a society dominated by wealth, much of it inherited, rather than work.

...But why does all of this matter? Basically, it’s about taxes.

America has a long tradition of imposing high taxes on big incomes and large fortunes, designed to limit the concentration of economic power as well as raising revenue. These days, however, suggestions that we revive that tradition face angry claims that taxing the rich is destructive and immoral — destructive because it discourages job creators from doing their thing, immoral because people have a right to keep what they earn.

But such claims rest crucially on myths about who the rich really are and how they make their money. Next time you hear someone declaiming about how cruel it is to persecute the rich, think about the hedge fund guys, and ask yourself if it would really be a terrible thing if they paid more in taxes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sister Simone Teaches Dinesh D'Souza About Minimum Wage

On the Bill Maher Show, Sister Simone Campbell didn't let conservative author Dinesh D'Souza get away with his statement that the minimum wage is a "minor issue." She stated, "“Excuse me, it is not a minor issue. It is at the heart of people’s struggle. I met Robin at the White House and she works full-time for minimum wage. And Robin, who works full-time at minimum wage for a profitable chain, she has to live in a homeless shelter because she does not have enough money to pay rent. That is wrong in the richest nation on Earth. It is wrong and it’s a big deal!” Sister Simone then spoke to D'Souza about companies that provide poverty wages and rely on taxpayers to provide social services. Watch:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Seder & Papantonio: Republicans Terrified Of Obamacare Success

Sam Seder of The Majority Report and Mike Papantonio of Ring of Fire discuss the Republicans’ dismay over Obamacare success, including the unprecedented drop in the number of uninsured. Among the GOP’s responses is that of Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-TN), who obscenely compared signing up for Obamacare to sending Jews to the gas chambers, along with more talk about “death panels.” Watch:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Elijah Cummings Rips Republicans' Benghazi Witch-Hunt

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passionately criticized the Republicans for their Benghazi witch-hunt, including the baseless accusation from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton ordered the military to "stand down"; the exclusion of Democrats from fact-finding delegations to Libya; and the use of the deaths of four Americans for political fundraising. Watch:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Republican Bills Ban Studies Of Climate Change

Rachel Maddow reports on Republicans passing legislation in red states that actually bans the study of climate change. A Virginia GOP state delegate said that since "sea level rise" is a "left-wing term," it should not be studied. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) put forward a bill, since passed by the GOP-controlled House, requiring that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stop studying the topic so much. If we stop studying something, it doesn't exist, right? Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Satirical Video: Australian Coal Producers' New Policy

The following video by Australian filmmaker John Nikolakopoulos satirizes the fossil fuel industry and its culpability in terms of climate change. How does the industry reconcile its professed concern for the environment with its fiduciary responsibility to shareholders? With their new "F#ck You" policy, which allows them to "straddle the dichotomy between what we know is true and how we can benefit by ignoring that truth." Watch:

Narrative: As one of the major contributors to co2 emissions and as we begin to contend with the real world effects of climate change, we have to prepare ourselves for the next step in addressing our corporate responsibilities in this area. We recognize what we call "The Gap" - the problem of simultaneously holding two contradictory positions. On one hand to act on our responsibility to humanity, but on the other hand to deliver on our commitment to superior value for our shareholders... I'm proud to announce the company's new policy of F#ck you...F#ck you means we can be passionate about our values, but not act on them. (It takes) our present-day financial burden away from us and transforms it into a chronic, economic, social, cultural and political crisis for future generations. It ensures solid returns to our shareholders, by killing their grandchildren.

Australians have also taken to Twitter to mock a campaign by Australians for Coal.

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Marvin Gaye Live

Cited as sixth in Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers list and praised by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his “huge contribution to soul music in general and the Motown sound in particular," Marvin Gaye expressed his social conscience in his songs. Above he performed “Mercy, Mercy Me,” about the environment, and “What’s Going On,” about violence and the search for peace, at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, 1980. (Yes, it's weird posting my "Saturday Night" music series on Monday night; the delay is due to YouTube giving me technical agida. Anyway, enjoy!)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Terrifying Futuristic Hotel Coming To Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The monstrosity above, a projected futuristic luxury hotel in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, known as a hipster haven, is one more potential marker of gentrification in New York City. The pattern is familiar: artists move into an area, attracted by low rents and large spaces; galleries, restaurants, cafes and clothing stores open, as the area becomes trendy, gentrified and expensive; rising real-estate values force out the artists and longtime residents. I'd advise those thinking of taking a trip here to make their plans soon, before the entire city becomes a sterile outdoor mall and playground for the wealthy. Gothamist has the details:

Just two years after the Wythe Hotel made its grand Williamsburg debut, the neighborhood's ever-developing Wythe Ave is getting a brand new luxury palace for tourists. And while a new hotel/bar/club/DIY doughnut-creaming shop in Williamsburg is about as newsworthy as a Disney Store opening in Times Square these days, renderings for this monstrous Bespin-esque edifice is like a Disney Store, Toys R Us and ESPN Zone all rolled into one, with an added dose of locally-sourced steroids.

Brownstoner broke news of the upcoming space-age beast today. Dubbed "The Level Hotel," the 320,000 square foot behemoth is set to touch down at 55 Wythe Ave between North 12th and 13th Streets at some undetermined point in the future, complete with 183 "luxury" hotel rooms and a whole lot of retail space.

There will also be a 20,000 square foot farm on the hotel's rooftop, presumably to provide locavore produce for the Vogon Constructor ships that will use the building as a parking space. Remember when humans used to be able to afford Williamsburg? You're old.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rick Perry Unsure If Botched Oklahoma Execution Was Inhumane

Convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett writhed in agony following a lethal injection and died 43 minutes later, a procedure that was criticized by the UN commissioner for human rights. While Lockett's execution took place in Oklahoma, NBC's David Gregory questioned Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, whose state is number one in the use of the death penalty. While Perry acknowledged that the execution was botched, he professed not to know if it was inhumane. Watch:

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I think we have an appropriate process in place, from the standpoint of the appeals process, to make sure that due process is addressed. And the process of the actual execution I would suggest to you is very different from Oklahoma. We only use one drug. But I'm confident that the way that the executions are taken care of in the state of Texas are appropriate.

DAVID GREGORY: And humane?


DAVID GREGORY: Was this inhumane?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: I don't know whether it was inhumane or not, but it was botched. And I hope that not only the governor, the legislators will look at the process in Oklahoma.

DAVID GREGORY: But you don't even want, even somebody convicted of a heinous crime, you don't want to see the government responsible for forcing a heart attack because they couldn't inject the proper lethal drugs.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: There is an appropriate way to deal with this. And obviously, something went terribly wrong.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ali Forney Story: The Need To Shelter NYC LGBT Youth

Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter, food and health care for homeless LGBT youth in New York City, discusses the tragic murder of Ali Forney, the plight of LGBT youth living on the streets and the desperate need to provide them with more shelter. Watch:

To contribute to the Ali Forney Center, click here.

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bachmann Vs. Immigration Reform Since Immigrants Aren't Conservative Republicans

Sam Seder of the Majority Report reviews Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) opposition to immigration reform, based on her fear that "big-government" loving Hispanics and Asians will come into the country instead of conservative (and white) Republicans. Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Daniel Radcliffe Stars In "The Cripple of Inishmaan"

Daniel Radcliffe is clearly determined to avoid being typecast as the actor who played Harry Potter. He played a leading roles in "Equus," 2008, and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," 2011, and also played poet Allen Ginsberg in the compelling film "Kill Your Darlings," 2013 (reviewed here). In "The Cripple of Inishmaan," written by Martin McDonagh and directed by Michael Grandage at Broadway's Cort Theatre, Radcliffe continues to expand his range as an actor willing to take on–and successfully so–challenging roles.

Radcliffe plays "Cripple Billy" in the bleak Irish island of Inishmaan. Born with a misshapen arm and leg, the sensitive Billy spends his time reading, staring at cows and putting up with the locals' caustic comments, including those of the girl he's interested in, Helen McCormick (Sarah Greene). Town legend has it that Billy's parents killed themselves prior to his birth, and two elderly shopkeepers, Eileen and Kate Osbourne (Gillian Hanna and Ingrid Craigie) have been raising him. Johnnypateen (Pat Shortt), who brings local news to the women in exchange for food, visits with a significant report: director Robert J. Flaherty is shooting a movie, "Man of Aran" (which Flaherty really did direct) on a nearby island, Inishmore. Determined to leave his bleak surroundings, Billy plots to go back to Hollywood with the cast and become an actor. In this poignant tragicomedy, Billy, compellingly played by Radcliffe, finds that escape is hardly assured.

"The Cripple of Inishmaan" is being presented at the Cort Theatre 138 W. 48th St., NYC, 212-239-6200, Through July 20. Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Obama Skewers Kochs And Fox At Correspondents' Dinner

Among President Obama's best lines at the 100th White House Correspondents' Dinner: "The Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but as usual they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News. Let's face it, Fox, you'll miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya." Watch his complete routine:

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Dexter Gordon Live

After his characteristic recitation of the lyrics, tenor saxophone master Dexter Gordon played a soulful cover of the jazz standard "What's New?" Joining Gordon in Holland in this 1963 performance are George Gruntz, piano; Guy Pederson, bass, and Daniel Humair, drums.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Warren Resists ABC's Attempt To Stir Up Political Gossip

On ABC’s "This Week," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) resisted George Stephanopoulos' attempt to play up a supposed challenge by the latter to the possible candidacy of Hillary Clinton. While Warren wanted to talk about banks, Wall Street and income inequality, Stephanopoulos kept trying to steer the discussion toward political gossip. When Warren stated that the financial services industry "roll over agencies," her host asked, "Did they roll over Hillary Clinton?" Watch:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Class War Inside The Republican Party

Alex Roarty writes in The Atlantic that there's a "class war inside the Republican Party" between candidates who are dependent on wealthy donors and a white, blue-collar, less educated base:

These days, the GOP tone and agenda are set by a voting bloc of mostly white, blue-collar workers whose sensibilities skew more toward NASCAR than golf. In a general election, the party's most reliable supporters are white voters without college degrees. And they increasingly control the contest for the White House nod: In 2008, according to a tabulation of exit-poll data acquired by the National Journal, blue-collar workers made up 51 percent of all GOP primary voters.

...The problem for some Republican that many of them still hail from the party's managerial ranks. And that leaves them on unsure footing as they try to communicate with a base whose experiences and outlook are fundamentally different than their own.

..."Ten years ago a Republican primary was decided by who has the best resume," said Joel McElhannon, an Atlanta-based GOP strategist. "Having broader experience was considered a big plus, but we've seen this shift over the last several years. There is this populist strain going through the Republican primary electorate, and now it's less about experience and it's more about being an outsider. It's less about being qualified than who is more angry and more likely to ruffle feathers."

..."Blue-collar whites have been migrating to the Republican Party ever since Ronald Reagan called them Reagan Democrats," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. "It's a culture that is heavily family based, more small-town and rural. It's very pro-gun, and very patriotic. We're talking about a group of folks who see Democratic efforts at gun control as a cultural assault, an attack on their values."

..."There's a complete lack of understanding of what primary voters are all about," said one GOP strategist involved in a potential presidential candidate's campaign, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. "You go around and hang out with big Republican donors, and if you were to take all their advice on how to win, you'd be screwed beyond belief, particularly in a primary."