Friday Night Fun and Culture: Carolina Chocolate Drops

I was just a little kid about five or six when I discovered country music with fiddles, banjos and great big old Martin dreadnaughts.

Some folks think that’s where I took a wrong turn and was doomed to seeking out the thrills of roots music in places like Greenwich Village and coffee houses, blues joints and and bars featuring rude musicians playing raw music all across this nation.

From the Gaslight to the Freight and Salvage.

Now I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area which may not have as much live music as Austin with it’s Sixth Street but its got the Granada Theater and the Kessler Auditorium.

Last year Tina and I saw one of the finest groups of roots musicians touring today, a group that keeps the old time music fresh and alive.  The Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Senator Bernie Sanders Reacts to Conventions

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Through a combination of corporate greed and disdain for gay people’s rights — as well as a CORRUPT publication process — Elsevier enabled the publication of Mark Rengerus’s scientifically invalid, anti-gay study, and another study by Loren Marks, propagandistically twinned to the Regnerus study.

The Regnerus study was funded for a total of $785,000, mainly through the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute’s program for Marriage, Family and Democracy. That Witherspoon program’s Director is W. BRADFORD WILCOX.

Wilcox is an EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER of Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research, which published Regnerus and Marks. The Regnerus study was accepted for publication on a suspicious rush schedule; the peer reviewers had conflicts of interest; none were same-sex parenting topic experts. Wilcox was a peer reviewer for one of the studies. His Witherspoon Institute is promoting the twinned studies in anti-gay-rights contexts, including through a stand-alone site it created for them.

What’s more is that Wilcox is a paid Regnerus study consultant. He “assists” Regnerus with “data analysis.” That means every time there’s an opportunity to monkey around with the data, in ways that are being hidden from the public, Wilcox can “assist” Regnerus to do that monkeying around with data, in ways that make gays look worse, and the public has no way of fact-checking what Regnerus and his anti-gay-rights funder did while monkeying around with the data.

When over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent journal editor James Wright and Darren Sherkat a letter complaining that the Regnerus study does not support its conclusions, and complaining also about the suspicious publication process, Wright went through the motions of a sham “audit,” that turned up a lot of shockingly unprofessional behavior at the journal but held nobody accountable for it. Wright understands perfectly well all of the conflicts of interest in this that his editorial board member Wilcox has as one of Regnerus’s funders, and as a paid study consultant promoting the study in anti-gay-rights political contexts, yet WRIGHT DID NOT DIVULGE THAT INFORMATION IN THE SHAM “AUDIT.” The information about Wilcox’s relation to Regnerus, and Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research had to be dug out by investigative reporters. Nobody at Elsevier wanted the public to know about Wilcox’s improper roles in the publication of Regnerus. In fact, they did everything they could to hide Wilcox’s roles in publishing Regnerus.

Elsevier must now retract Wilcox’s and Regnerus’s scientifically invalid, gay-bashing garbage from publication immediately. If it must be republished in the future, put it through valid peer review first. We will not stand silently by, allowing a science publisher’s greed to undermine – at our expense — the trust on which science is based.

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We Take Care Of Our Own

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President Obama’s Full Speech 2012 DNC

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Bill Clinton’s Stunning Jobs Claim At DNC Actually True

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 09/06/2012

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton highlighted a stunning fact during his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday: Democratic presidents have overseen the creation of nearly twice as many jobs as Republican presidents since 1961.

“What’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 [million],” Clinton said to cheers and applause.

Bloomberg Government first reported these figures in May, after analyzing growth in private-sector jobs since 1961.

On Wednesday, Clinton used the figure to justify Democratic policies.

“It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics,” Clinton said. “Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. When you stifle human potential, when you don’t invest in new ideas, it doesn’t just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all.”

That said, Democratic presidents may not be able to take all the credit for the private-sector jobs created during their tenure. After all, the economy saw a big boost under Clinton in part because of the technology boom and stock market bubble that resulted — Clinton arguably was just in the right place at the right time.

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A Tale of Two Conventions

From Mother Jones:

The nation is deeply divided, but the gatherings in Charlotte and Tampa show how starkly dissimilar the Democratic and Republican visions of the American experience are.

Thu Sep. 6, 2012

Not too far from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, a local art gallery is featuring an exhibit called “Divided State of America,” but it’s not necessary to trek to this space to contemplate the deep divisions within the nation. You need only spend a few nanoseconds at the Democratic presidential convention, after experiencing a week at the Republican gathering in Tampa, to realize you have left one reality for a much different one. And this goes far beyond policy positions and political stances.

Here’s a brief guide:

The people. It’s rather obvious: Planet Democrat is inhabited by people of different colors; Planet Republican is monochromatic. This stark contrast has long existed and is not a surprise. (One recent poll showed Mitt Romney with zero—yes, zero—support among African Americans.) Yet shifting from Tampa to Charlotte is not unlike the moment in The Wizard of Oz when black-and-white gives way to the full spectrum. In Tampa, it seemed there were more black and Latino Americans on the stage than among the audience of thousands of white people. The streets of downtown Charlotte—which, for some reason, is called “uptown”—are overflowing with diversity.

And this extends beyond race. The thousands of delegates in Charlotte represent more income (or class) diversity. Sure, plenty of well-heeled Democratic donors, lobbyists, and supporters are strolling about, but there are many folks who look as if they are heading back to tough jobs when the convention is done: teachers, nurses, Teamsters, and the like. In Tampa, I conducted an experiment and asked several journalists to fill in this blank: “These Republican delegates look like they come from ________.” The most common answer: “a country club.” Another reply: “a gated community.”

The street. Tampa was an antiseptic affair. The arena was in a security area that resembled a Green Zone. Delegates were bused in, then bused out. With scant interaction between the convention and the rest of the world, no sense of community was created. It was as if the GOP delegates were suburbanites—or exurbanites—commuting to and from their place of business, zipping past the locals and their neighborhoods. In Charlotte, the delegates and others have flooded the downtown area, walking from one event to another, interacting with one another, the residents of the city who have flocked to the city’s center, and even the street-corner anti-abortion protesters. There’s a vibrancy that embodies the best values of community and urban life.

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VP Joe Biden on Pres. Obama: ‘I Don’t See Him in Sound Bites. I Watch Him in Action’

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Howard Dean: The Case for Obama

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Sen. John Kerry Speaks at 2012 Democratic National Convention

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How the Republicans’ scorched-earth anti-Obama strategy has backfired

From The Guardian UK:

By being ‘the party of no’ to Obama on jobs, stimulus, healthcare and all, the GOP has left Romney with no positive offer to voters, Thursday 6 September 2012

Barack Obama should be losing the 2012 presidential election – or so says the conventional wisdom. With unemployment above 8%, a recovery that is mediocre at best and economic uncertainty far more the rule than the exception, there is certainly something to this argument. Yet, according to polling guru Nate Silver, President Obama is currently a 76% favorite for re-election.

So why does Obama continue to maintain a small, yet stubborn lead not only in general election polling, but – more importantly – in a majority of key swing states? It’s the same reason he should be losing the presidential race: his Republican opponents.

That might seem like a confusing explanation, but it’s emblematic of the extent to which the GOP has been Obama’s worst enemy over the past four years while, at the same time, may ensure that he is re-elected president.

To unpack this admittedly convoluted argument, let’s begin with focusing on the dominant political dynamic of the past four years. It’s not about President Obama’s legislative agenda or his post-partisan dreams, but rather the unceasing and unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican party. From day one of his presidency (actually, even before Obama took office), Republicans made the conscious decision to not just simply oppose Obama’s entire policy agenda, but to actively and flagrantly thwart it. They promiscuously used the filibuster to block even the holding of votes on Democratic proposals in the Senate and punished party members who contemplated the idea of working together with Obama or – even worse – compromising with him.

Indeed, that Obama was even able to pass an $800bn stimulus measure and comprehensive healthcare reform is perhaps the single most surprising political story, not just of the past four years, but indeed the past 40.

The Republicans’ obstructionist “successes” have taken a heavy toll and can be seen most dramatically in US economic performance since 2009. When fiscal policy has been expansive – as in the case of the stimulus being passed only a few weeks after Obama took office – the result has been job creation and economic growth (albeit of the more tepid variety). When Congress has adopted GOP-favored policies of austerity – spending cuts and reliance on tax cuts to stimulate the economy – the results have been far worse. By consistently opposing and blocking any effort by Obama and the Democrats to grow the economy through additional stimulus measures, like the president’s job bill, and even seeking to intimidate the Federal Reserve into focusing its attention on inflation rather than unemployment, they have actively undermined policies with the potential to spark an economic turnaround.

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Republicans Cry About Lack of “Civility” at Dem Convention

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 09/06/2012

Predictably, the Romney campaign and its apparatchiks at Fox News accused the Democrats of lacking “civility” during the first day of their convention. RNC chairman Reince Priebus called the Democrats “classless” for showing a 1994 video of Ted Kennedy debating (and embarrassing) a decidedly more liberal Mitt Romney.


You know who shouldn’t be lecturing the Democrats about civility? The people who gave us swift-boating, the Southern Strategy, the outing of Valerie Plame, Birthers, Reverend Wright videos around the clock, “Obama pals around with domestic terrorists,” the exploitation of 9/11, comparing a triple amputee Vietnam veteran to Saddam Hussein, the booing of a gay soldier, and the party that sported Purple Heart band-aids at the 2004 convention to mock another decorated Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, who was wounded in combat. And no one on the floor of the Democratic convention hurled peanuts at an African American camerawomen, shouting, “This is how we feed the animals.”

Yes, the Democratic speakers unapologetically jabbed Romney for having a Swiss bank account and for being a shameless prevaricator. They criticized his policy proposals for being the usual Reaganomics claptrap we’ve heard during every election and, accurately enough, how the same policies caused the recession. There’s a difference between taking fair shots at an opponent and the reprehensible tactics routinely exercised by the Republicans.

I totally get it: since the dawn of history, politics has always been about rigorous debate, passionate arguments, salient framing and rhetorical aggression. That’s not incivility. That’s politics. But the Republicans always appear shocked whenever the Democrats bring their A-game to political contest, and then they hilariously lean on this well-worn “civility” crutch with full knowledge that the party’s PR wing, AM talk radio and Fox News Channel, has made a fortune in cash and ratings by calling the president a communist, a traitor and a “little black man child.”

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Fmr Gov. Jennifer Granholm Remarks at 2012 Democratic National Convention

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Stanford Scientists Shockingly Reckless on Health Risk And Organics

From Common Dreams:

by Frances Moore Lappé
Published on Thursday, September 6, 2012 by Common Dreams

I first heard about a new Stanford “study” downplaying the value of organics when this blog headline cried out from my inbox: “Expensive organic food isn’t healthier and no safer than produce grown with pesticides, finds biggest study of its kind.”


Does the actual study say this?

No, but authors of the study — “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? A Systematic Review” — surely are responsible for its misinterpretation and more. Their study actually reports that ¨Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

The authors’ tentative wording — “may reduce” — belies their own data: The report’s opening statement says the tested organic produce carried a 30 percent lower risk of exposure to pesticide residues. And, the report itself also says that “detectable pesticide residues were found in 7% of organic produce samples…and 38% of conventional produce samples.” Isn’t that’s a greater than 80% exposure reduction?

In any case, the Stanford report’s unorthodox measure “makes little practical or clinical sense,” notes Charles Benbrook — formerly Executive Director, Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences: What people “should be concerned about [is]… not just the number of [pesticide] residues they are exposed to” but the “health risk they face.” Benbrook notes “a 94% reduction in health risk” from pesticides when eating organic foods.

Assessing pesticide-driven health risks weighs the toxicity of the particular pesticide. For example the widely-used pesticide atrazine, banned in Europe, is known to be “a risk factor in endocrine disruption in wildlife and reproductive cancers in laboratory rodents and humans.”

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Where’s the War on Lethal Superbugs?

From Truth Dig:

By Ralph Nader
Posted on Sep 5, 2012

What if 2,000 U.S. soldiers were losing their lives every week in Afghanistan? Would the peddlers of the electoral politics of trivia, distraction and avoidance take notice? Of course.

Every week, 2,000 Americans, or about 100,000 men, women and children a year, die from mostly preventable hospital-borne infections in the United States. The toll may even be higher. The Centers for Disease Control will update its figures soon.

To put this deadly disaster in perspective, hospital-induced infections kill more Americans than the combined fatalities from motor-vehicle collisions, AIDs, fire and homicides combined. Additional millions more survive infections. The pain and costs are enormous.

Why the silence about this silent violence? Every president, including Barack Obama, says over and over again that the safety of the American people is his top priority. They spend trillions of dollars to guard against and confront stateless terrorists in blowback ways that seem to produce more terrorism in more countries. Yet the Washington lawmakers can’t seem to adequately respond to the little-publicized yet dire warnings and casualty figures published by our leading scientists and public health officials about the big-time terrorists called lethal bacteria.

This year, our government is not even devoting the dollar equivalent of two unnecessary F-22 fighter planes to the fight against what The Washington Post calls “a global epidemic of hospital-acquired bugs that quickly grow resistant to the toughest drugs.”

The story behind this colossal callousness toward innocent, trusting people taken to hospitals for care and healing starts with the drug company executives who do not see much profit from developing new antibiotics. After all, selling drugs for depression, high blood pressure and “life-style drugs” make huge profits. Only vaccines are lower on the profit totem pole than antibiotics. Remember the ever-changing superbugs keep challenging the heavily government subsidized and tax-credited drug companies to invest in antibiotics research and development.

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