Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

An Admonition to Western Media on coverage of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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The following was written by a friend of mine, Peter Andersen, an American currently living in Sierra Leone, who, for his internet-based coverage of Sierra Leone’s civil war, was made a Member of the Order of the Rokel.  The Order of the Rokel, together with the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone, is Sierra Leone’s highest civilian honor.   The piece is reproduced here with his permission

The media in North America and Western Europe has finally picked up on the Ebola outbreak, but mostly with the idea that it could come “here.” The inflammatory headlines and statements in the first paragraphs are balanced at the bottom, should anyone read that far, by experts who point out that the chance of an outbreak in those regions is vanishingly small.

The comments left after such online articles range from the uninformed to the racist, with the German readers of Focus being especially bad. Yes, people here eat bush meat including monkey and even fruit bat. No, it is not a choice between eating bush meat and starvation. No, it is not only rich people who eat bush meat. No, it is not “superstition” which causes people to catch Ebola, unless by that you mean that people want a decent burial for their loved ones and are uncomfortable with the so-called “medical burial” where the body is zipped into a body bag and tossed without ceremony into an unmarked grave. And no, the cause of Ebola is not overpopulation.

This Ebola crisis is not “about” Europe or America, despite media there trying to find a local angle. They are trying too hard. Suddenly the Liberian official who died in Lagos, Patrick Sawyer, has become “an American of Liberian descent” in the Western press, but he remains a Liberian in the African press. In fact, he lived in Minnesota where his wife and three children reside. He is likely a dual citizen, but that does not make him “an American of Liberian descent” as the BBC would have it. That would imply that he was born in the US of Liberian parents. Ever if that were true (and it isn’t), he would still have qualified for a Liberian passport. I am waiting to hear from the BBC how a Liberian official was traveling on official government business from Monrovia to Calabar, Nigeria to an ECOWAS conference with an American passport.

At present I am not worried about an epidemic, or a pandemic, or a serious outbreak in Europe or America. We have not seen a single case caused by exposure in the West, nor have we seen a single infected person arrive from Africa. This is not even, mostly, about us here in Freetown (for now) although we now have had some cases and some people have been exposed. Most of the victims on this side of the border are in Kailahun and Kenema Districts, and it is with them and their families that our thoughts, our prayers, and our sympathies lie. And most especially with those medical staff who work up to 22 hours a day to save those who have been infected. Media, stop dividing them up into Americans and Africans in order to sell your story to a certain market. Even now we are mourning the loss of Dr. Khan and the three nurses who gave their lives saving others, while the Liberians are mourning their own losses. We only recognize one category and it’s called “hero.”

However Ebola initially started –and fruit bats and bush meat are only an educated guess at this point — after the initial infection, it travels person to person. With the proper isolation facilities (which the Western countries have) and effective communication of information (which they also have), Ebola should not be hard to control in the West.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Pam Karlan to head voting rights unit at DOJ

Politico is reporting (and Jeffrey Toobin is confirming) that Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan will become Deputy Assistant Attorney General for voting rights in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  This position is NOT subject to Senate confirmation.

Professor Karlan is one of the leading liberal Constitutional scholars and, at 54, would make a great choice for the next vacancy on the Court, but her taking this position is important not just for her professional development, but because it ensures that voting rights will be front and center at DOJ as we enter the crucial period where DOJ will be challenging states like Texas and North Carolina on their new restrictive voting laws.

Predictably, right wing heads are already exploding.  At PJ Tattler, they describe her as a “dishonest radical”.

Crossposted at The Daily Kos

A Remarkable Speech

On Thursday, at the United Nations, Malala Yousefzai celebrated her 16th birthday by addressing the United Nations Youth Assembly, making a remarkably mature call for the education of all, for peace and for standing up for one’s rights through civil disobedience.  Ms. Malala, who was shot in the head in Pakistan by the Taliban last October for her outspoken advocacy of education for girls, was unbowed and defiant, evoking as her guides Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Mohammed al Jinnah, Bacha Khan and Mother Theresa, as well as her parents.

She calls education “the most powerful weapon” with which to change the world.

How rejecting Obamacare advances the Gay Agenda

The title is, of course, ironic, but after reading about Chris Cristie’s rejection of Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare for New Jersey, and considering that in light of his position opposing marriage equality in New Jersey, I began to think about the linkage between these two seemingly distinct issues.

While watching the NewsHour’s excellent coverageof the SCOTUS decision in US v. Windsor to throw out Section 3 of DOMA,  I found this quote from Kathleen Sibelius :

Today’™s Supreme Court decision finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is a victory for equality, which is a core belief of this administration. It is also a victory for families, especially those children whose parents’ legal same sex marriages can now be recognized under federal law.

As a result of today’s ruling, the federal government is no longer forced to discriminate against legally married same sex couples. The Supreme Court’™s decision on DOMA reaffirms the core belief that we are all created equal and must be treated as equal. The Department of Health and Human Services will work with the Department of Justice to review all relevant federal statutes and ensure this decision is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

RIP – Anthony Lewis

One of the great journalists of his era, and the man who revolutionized reporting about the Supreme Court, Anthony Lewis, died today from renal and heart failure.  Lewis was 85.

Lewis reported on the Supreme Court  for the New York Times first as correspondent and then later as a columnist.  He later headed the Times bureau in London and wrote extensively on foreign policy issues.…

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DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Brown v. Board of Education!

In a decision that was both wide-ranging and as intensly partisan and activist as Bush v. Gore, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals today delivered an opinion which, in effect, overturns the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that segregated schools are “inherently unequal”.


 OK, I admit it. My first paragraph (and my title) are pure hyperbole. And quasi-snark. But, in many ways, it is true. And, an indication of just how much the decision in Canning v. NLRB (PDF)reflects both judicial activism and partisanship of the worst kind. Follow me below the squiggle as we go down the rabbit hole on this one.

Talkin' Filibuster — shifting the burden

 photo Mrsmith_zps34c3e4b5.jpg  I admit it – I am a romantic.  I grew up with my view of the Senate of the United States colored by Frank Capra's tale (and Jimmy Stewart's portrayal) of the trials and tribulation of Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  This holds especially true for my view of the filibuster. Filibusters should look like what Jeff Smith did — one man, standing up in the well of the Senate for what they believe in.  But, that hasn't been the case for, at a minimum, the past 4-6 years.   As the Brennan Center report on Filibuster Abuse  (PDF) demonstrates:

Filibuster Abuse is Rampant:      As of October 2012, the current Congress has enacted 196 public laws, the lowest output of any Congress since at least World War II. This is not purely the result of divided party control of chambers. Control of the House and Senate was also divided from 1981 to 1987 and 2001 to 2003.     The current Senate passed a record-low 2.8 percent of bills introduced in that chamber, a 66 percent decrease from 2005-2006, and a 90 percent decrease from the high in 1955-1956.     Cloture motions — the only way to forcibly end a filibuster — have skyrocketed since 2006, creating a de facto 60-vote requirement for all Senate business.     In the last three Congresses, the percentage of Senate floor activity devoted to cloture votes has been more than 50 percent greater than any other time since at least World War II, leaving less time for consideration of substantive measures.     On average, it has taken 188 days to confirm a judicial nominee during the current Congress, creating 32 “judicial emergencies,” as designated by the Office of U.S. Courts. Only at the end of the congressional term in 1992 and 2010 have there been more judicial emergencies.

 I'm not going to pretend to look at the issue in all its complexity here, but I do wish to look at one aspect of reform efforts that many have fixed upon — the talking filibuster — and contrast that with the proposal towards which, according to Politico , Harry Reid is leaning.  

North Dakota is Burning — And You Can See it from Space

On the NPR blog, Robert Krullwich noticed that pictures taken at night from space of the US show a recent phenomenon — one of the brightest patches is in one of the least populated places in the US — western North Dakota.

The reason, apparently, is the boom in oil drilling. In addition to the lighting that the drillers bring with them, the drilling makes extensive use of the practice of burning off natural gas.  Those flares have turned this relatively underpopulated area into an area as bright as major metropolitan areas, such as Minneapolis-St.Paul.

You can find the NPR article here.

Common Sense, 2013 style

Below is the White House Summary of the 23 Executive actions taken by President Obama today in response to the gun violence which plagues our nation.