Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Wednesday Oh’s and Woes

In emotional meeting, Newtown families comfort senator

By Patricia Zengerle

Senator Joe Manchin became so emotional on Wednesday about the Newtown massacre and his push for background checks for gun buyers that parents whose children were killed at the Connecticut school in December were moved to comfort him.

“I’m a parent. … I’m a grandparent,” the West Virginia Democrat told reporters during a meeting in his office with eight Newtown family members on Wednesday, when asked what he thought it meant to have them visiting the U.S. Capitol.

“I can’t imagine this … to do something,” he tried to say, in tears, before giving up on his effort to answer.

IRS claims it can read your e-mail without a warrant

´┐╝by Declan McCullagh

The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.

Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy “generally no privacy” in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.

That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.

Tens of thousands at US immigration reform rallies


ens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied across the US in a mass call for citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

The co-ordinated protests were designed to press Congress to act as senators negotiate an immigration reform bill.

In Washington DC cheering crowds gathered outside the Capitol, and more than 1,000 demonstrated in Atlanta.

New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education

By Justin Gillis

Educators unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States – including, for the first time, a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school.

The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century, but one that still provokes a backlash among some religious conservatives.

The guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.

Maine hermit living in wild for 27 years arreste

USA Today

A man who lived like a hermit for decades in a makeshift camp in the woods and may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries for food and other staples has been caught in a surveillance trap at a camp he treated as a “Walmart,” authorities said Wednesday.

Christopher Knight, 47, was arrested last week when he tripped a surveillance sensor set up by a game warden while stealing food from a camp for people with special needs in Rome, a town of about 1,000 whose population swells with the arrival of summer residents.

Authorities on Tuesday found the campsite where they believed Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit in local lore, has lived for 27 years.

Obama Budget Includes $235 Million For Mental Health Care


President Obama is asking for $235 million as part of his new budget proposal to fund mental health initiatives. Of the funds, $130 million will be used to train teachers and others to identify signs of mental illness in students and provide them with access to treatment.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog on her agency’s website Tuesday that the funds include $205 million to help identify mental health problems, improve access to mental health services and support safer school environments. The plan would affect at least 8,000 schools according to Sebelius. Another $30 million will go toward public health research on gun violence.

“We cannot ignore the fact that 60 percent of people with mental health conditions and nearly 90 percent of people with substance use disorders don’t receive the care they need,” Sebelius said in the post.

Changing Rules of Conception With the First ‘Test Tube Baby’

By Robert G. Edwards

Robert G. Edwards, who opened a new era in medicine when he joined a colleague in developing in vitro fertilization, enabling millions of infertile couples to bring children into the world and women to have babies even in menopause, died on Wednesday at his home near Cambridge, England. Dr. Edwards, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough, was 87.

The University of Cambridge, where he worked for many years, announced his death. Dr. Edwards was known to have dementia and was said to have been unable to appreciate the tribute when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010.

Dr. Edwards, a flamboyant and colorful physiologist who courted the press and vigorously debated his critics, and with his colleague, Dr. Patrick Steptoe, essentially changed the rules for how people can come into the world. Conception was now possible outside the body – in a petri dish.

See-through brains promise to clear up mental mysteries

By Sharon Begley

If Dr Karl Deisseroth were an architect, he might be replacing stone or brick walls with floor-to-ceiling glass to build transparent houses. But since he is a neuroscientist at Stanford University, he has done the biological equivalent: invented a technique to make brains transparent, a breakthrough that should give researchers a truer picture of the pathways underlying both normal mental function and neurological illnesses from autism to Alzheimer’s. In fact, the first human brain the scientists clarified came from someone with autism.

Deisseroth and his colleagues reported in the online edition of the journal Nature on Wednesday that they had developed a way to replace the opaque tissue in brains (harvested from lab mice or donated by people for research) with “hydrogel,” a substance similar to that used for contact lenses.

The result is see-through brains, their innards revealed in a way no current technique can: Large structures such as the hippocampus show up with the clarity of organs in a transparent fish, and even neural circuits and individual cells are visible.

What ‘Accidental Racist’ says about evolution of Southern identity

By Mark Guarino

Love, heartbreak, patriotism, and partying have helped make country music the top-selling genre in the US. Segregation and slavery? Not so much.

That is what would seem to make “Accidental Racist,” the new offering by country artist Brad Paisley, so unusual. The song, which has been blasted by critics as a downplaying of racism, attempts to explore the thorny question of whether Southern whites are racist if they are proud of their Confederate heritage.

Yet “Accidental Racist” fits into a long tradition of Southern musicians trying in good faith to reflect on the region’s complicated past. Whether it was the “hillbilly” music marketed to whites from Appalachia and the Ozarks in the 1920s or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response to Neil Young in 1974’s “Sweet Home Alabama, Southern musicians have sought to address the outsider’s perspective that Southern pride is tied to the legacy of slavery and the Civil War.


  1. I agree with the commentators who say that you can’t separate racism from the glorification of the civil war that the confederate flag symbolizes.

    And why do they glorify that war, exactly? Those who deny that the civil war was about the south fighting to retain the right to own other human beings are history-challenged. Or are they glorifying how poor white southern men were co-opted into doing the bidding of the rich landowners, dying to preserve a way of life that they would never attain in the caste-bound culture of the south? It is not much different than their being co-opted into voting for the Republican Party which is the protector of the 1% and cares not a whit about working class Americans. Yay … celebrate being a peon!!

    Alyssa Rosenberg from ThinkProgress: What Brad Paisley And LL Cool J Don’t Understand About Accidents In ‘Accidental Racist’

    Most definitions of “accident” require that an incident that fits that description meet two criteria: that the event in question be both unintended and unforseeable. And it’s characteristic of our conversations about race that when someone causes offense, they insist that they aren’t culpable because their actions or speech were unintended, ignoring the question of possible foresight. It’s a means of defending yourself that puts responsibility for offense on the person who is offended, painting them as paranoid, suspicious, and generally lacking in good faith, and that allows people who are careless about race to avoid actual responsibility for hurting others. And it’s a defense that would be impossible for most people to make if they stepped back and weighed the question of whether, despite their intentions, their actions or speech could be foreseen to cause harm or summon up painful history. […]

    Compassion requires both engagement and consideration for other people, and often some sacrifice. It’s leaving the Confederate Flag in the drawer at home and finding a better symbol of anti-racist Southern pride…

    Her commentary is worth a read.

  2. How Much Does It Hurt? Let’s Scan Your Brain

    Scientists reported Wednesday that they had developed a way to measure how much pain people are experiencing by scanning their brains.[…]

    [Associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder Tor] Wager and his colleagues decided to see if they could measure pain objectively – using a technique known as , or fMRI. They conducted a series of four experiments involving 114 adults and report their results in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    The experiments involved measuring brain activity via fMRIs as they administered pain with a special device – a computer-controlled hot plate that can apply carefully calibrated levels of heat to someone’s arm.

    There was some concern that giving physicians a tool like this would mean that doctors listen even less to what their patients were telling them. It seems that testing and asking the right questions could work together to help with diagnosing.  

  3. Brad Plumer from the Washington Post Winners and losers in the White House budget

    … here’s a quick rundown of the biggest policy winners and losers in the White House’s $3.78 trillion budget for 2014, which would cut $1 trillion in spending and raise $800 billion in new revenue over the next ten years.

    Some winners:

    – Medicaid

    – Low-income taxpayers

    – Hospitals

    – Scientists

    – Highway pavers

    – Preschool

    – Food aid recipients

    Some losers:

    – Wealthy taxpayers and the finance industry

    – Upper-income Medicare recipients

    – Many Social Security recipients

    – Farms and agribusinesses

    – Smokers

    – Pharmaceutical makers

    – Oil, gas and coal companies

    – The EPA (and a few other agencies)

  4. 17-Year-Old Rehtaeh Parsons Killed Herself After Her High School Ignored Evidence She Was Raped

    The details of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons’ death shook the internet on Tuesday. Parsons’ mother alleges her daughter was struggling with depression after she was gang-raped by four boys, became the target of intense victim-blaming bullying, and the investigation into her assault was grossly mishandled by law enforcement. Now, new troubling details are emerging about the alleged assault and the culture of the community that turned a blind eye to Parsons’ plight.

    The picture of Parsons’ alleged assault that “spread like wildfire” among students showed one of the assailants giving a “thumbs-up with a big smile.” The school that Parsons attended at the time of the alleged sexual assault was aware of the allegations, but administrators did not probe the incident, even after the photo was seen by “most students” at Parsons’ high school. That left students to piece together the incident on their own – and potentially fueled the high school gossip mill that led many of Parsons’ classmates to place the blame on her, in a classic example of the additional trauma that rape culture can inflict on victims.

  5. Five Ways Rand Paul Whitesplained Politics At Howard University

    On Wednesday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gave an address at the historically-black Howard University designed to convince black voters to support Republicans. While some of his remarks, most notably on harsh drug laws and other civil liberties issues, were well-received, the majority of the speech consisted in Paul condescendingly explaining American racial history to the audience, occasionally incorrectly, and expecting that it would open black voters’ eyes to the real Republican Party.

    1. The Civil Rights movement is actually the “history of the Republican Party”

    2. Assumed the audience didn’t know the history of the NAACP.

    3. Suggested that African-Americans were “demeaning” the history of sergregation by calling voter ID laws discrimination

    4. Mangled the name of the first popularly-elected black Senator

    5. Misled about his opposition to the Civil Rights Act

    And another reminder that we really need to find a new name for the Republican Party that the racists formed after renouncing the Democratic Party in 1964. Today’s Republican party has nothing in common with the party of Abraham Lincoln … or even the party of Lincoln Chafee.  

  6. princesspat

    Does “centrism” have a future in Northwest politics?

    Perhaps it’s appropriate that we are of two minds about centrism these days. On the one hand, it’s the Holy Grail of politics; the place where deals can be made and gridlock broken. On the other, centrism can seem like a confession to impure thoughts and a weak-minded desire for compromise. As Washington’s House, Senate and Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposals converge in Olympia, it’s worth thinking about.


    But working – effectiveness – is central to the centrist argument. Suzan DelBene, the Democrat who represents Washington’s new Congressional swing district, the First, has to walk a fine middle line. She comes from the Eastside’s Points communities and part of her district overlaps with Tom’s. I asked her if she thought Tom’s senate strategy was effective. “Has it broken gridlock?” she asked. “It’s about the person with the ability to get things done.”

    Sen. Tom gets into blame game over a failed bill

    On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle, pointed the fault at Tom. “When you’re the leader, it takes leadership. It’s not about placing blame,” Murray said.

    In a written statement, Kohl-Welles said: “I am incredulous that Sen. Tom would blame the failure of popular legislation on a totally unrelated decision on my part to decline chairing the Higher Education Committee under the Majority Coalition Caucus coup. He’s the most powerful member of the Senate and yet he can’t get a bill out of committee, a committee he sits on, on a bill that he publicly stated he supported, and when he knows that a solid majority of the Senate wants to pass it off the Senate floor?”

    She added: “Instead of finger-pointing, Sen. Tom should be leading. If he didn’t want to lead, he shouldn’t have asked to be the leader. Instead of wringing his hands, Sen. Tom should be rolling up his sleeves and persuading the committee chair he appointed to move the bill he claims he supports.”

    Perils for Swing-State Democrats on Gun Control

    The families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims who have converged on Capitol Hill this week made a point of visiting Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a freshman Democrat known for the “North Dakota nice” of her home state, but on the main issue that brought them here – limiting the capacity of gun magazines and universal background checks – she curtly rejected their pleas for support.


    “I think the world of Joe,” Ms. Heitkamp said. “I think Joe’s worked very hard to forge a compromise, but in the end it’s not what any other senator believes. It’s about what the people of North Dakota believe.”

  7. The words written on web sites will not be how Change Comes to America. President Obama will use his OFA mailing list and solicit the help of his supporters directly, people who voted for him and who still believe in him and his basic decency and the way he cares about people. Those supporters will fulfill the promise of 2008 … maybe not with this Congress, maybe not with the next but it will happen because the change is real.

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