I haven’t weighed in yet on the biggest trial of the year because I wanted to get my response together.

I believe the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial was the legally correct one.

The prosecution lost that case; it had no story stitched together based upon neither evidence nor witnesses who were credible nor experts who didn’t end up biting the prosecution backside (and some witnesses actually ending up helping the defense). None of its case was “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I became a trial junkie on this case. When it was first presented in the media, the narrative presented was: “Neighborhood watch captain shoots and kills unarmed teenager.” My first thought was, “That’s terrible.” – and I put it out of my mind.

You see, the evening news is glutted with horrific stories – babies being left to roast in parked cars; children falling out of 4th floor windows; women being held hostages, beaten and raped; old men being kept prisoners for their government aid checks. And, yes, gang violence, drugs, guns, murders, guns and more guns.

And the horror, the horrors, suffered by billions of persons in the rest of the world cannot be comprehended, nor can it be spoken of.

But when this trial resurfaced, I became fascinated by it. My husband would say “obsessed” – but, we quibble. Always.

The best and most fair summary online of all evidence presented at trial is at Wikipedia. This crowd-sourced site is more reliable than anything you’ll find on personal blogs because every statement submitted has to be documented. Also pro-con forces call out errors and balance each other.

So go here and read this:

Here’s one excerpt that might explain “why” Zimmerman stopped that night when he was on his way to get his lunches for the week:

“From January 1, 2011 through February 26, 2012, police were called to The Retreat at Twin Lakes 402 times.[47] During the 6 months preceding the February 26 shooting, Zimmerman called the non-emergency police line seven times. On five of those calls, Zimmerman reported suspicious looking men in the area, but never offered the men’s race without first being asked by the dispatcher.[62][63][64] Crimes committed at The Retreat in the year prior to Martin’s death included eight burglaries, nine thefts, and one shooting.[65] Twin Lakes residents said there were dozens of reports of attempted break-ins, which had created an atmosphere of fear in their neighborhood.[32]

“In September 2011, the Twin Lakes residents held an organizational meeting to create a neighborhood watch program. Zimmerman was selected by neighbors as the program’s coordinator, according to Wendy Dorival, Neighborhood Watch organizer for the Sanford Police Department.[4][4][66]

“Three weeks prior to the shooting, on February 2, 2012, Zimmerman called police to report a young man peering into the windows of an empty Twin Lakes home. Zimmerman was told a police car was on the way and he waited for their arrival. By the time police arrived, the suspect had fled. On February 6, workers witnessed two young black men lingering in the yard of a Twin Lakes resident around the same time her home was burgled. A new laptop and some gold jewelry were stolen. The next day police discovered the stolen laptop in the backpack of a young black man, which led to his arrest. Zimmerman identified this young man as the same person he had spotted peering into windows on February 2.”

On the night Martin would die, here’s the transcript of Zimmerman’s original call to the Sanford Police.

He does not say, “There’s a young black punk wearing a hoodie that doesn’t belong in my neighborhood.” Instead, the operator asks for a description: “Is he white, black or Hispanic?” Zimmerman answers, “He looks black.”

It was dark out and raining. Frankly, I think each guy was startled and/or scared of the other guy.

We know that Martin approached Zimmerman who was in his truck because there’s audio of the dinging of an alarm when Zimmerman opens his truck door. That’s also what he reports to the 411 dispatcher. We’ll never know why Martin walked around Zimmerman’s truck. Maybe Zimmerman flashed his flashlight in Martin’s face – an aggressive enough move, certainly.

We’ll never know who said what to whom. MARTIN: “What are you looking at?” is just as likely as ZIMMERMAN saying: “What are you up to?” In his walk-through the following day with police (which he consistently stuck to and his neighbors’ descriptions on 911 seem to back up the vast majority of the time), Zimmerman says Martin was wandering slowly through the rain, sort of looking into the windows of houses. It’s just as possible Martin was looking for his father’s place in this huge development of hundreds of identical-looking homes.

Then, Zimmerman says, Martin disappeared. “He’s running.”

I believe that’s when Zimmerman gets so frustrated with “these assholes” and “fucking [unintelligible].” Read the 411 non-emergency transcript again. I do not believe “these assholes always get away” refers to any race; it applies to the burglars who have been breaking and entering in his neighborhood and threatening the sanctuaries of families’ homes.

The telephone responder does say: “Are you following him? (Yes) OK we don’t need you to do that. (OK)” But later on the same responder is trying to get an address out of Zimmerman that Zimmerman can’t find.

Another point about this call to police is that Zimmerman identifies himself by name, address and phone. He also, and this is important, takes great care to try to ensure the responding officers will find him. He even wants them to call him so he can escort their car into the correct area of the development. Would someone will evil intent do that?

Again, we don’t know who threw the first punch. Zimmerman ended up with documented head injuries consistent with his skull being pounded on concrete; he also had a dislocated and bloodied nose.

Martin ended up dead.

Of course there is no comparison to be made there.

A 17-year-old walking home from a store with Skittles and Arizona Tea should not have died that night. And Zimmerman should not have shot him that night.

But, and here’s my opinion, I believe it is George Zimmerman’s voice one hears repeatedly screaming for help on the 911 calls (neighbors’ recordings). I believe him when he says Martin ended up on top of him and was hitting him, pounding Zimmerman’s head.

The tragedy would strike soon when Martin began putting his hand over Zimmerman’s nose and mouth. He was in pain. He couldn’t breathe. And then – then he THOUGHT he felt Martin’s hand reaching toward his gun. Zimmerman took it out of his holster.


Zimmerman says (and a neighbor confirms he said) that he did not even realize Martin was dead.

One other point: Zimmerman did not have a rap sheet a mile long. According to

“Court documents obtained by on Tuesday evening show that George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went to court in 2005 and 2006 for accusations of domestic violence, tussling with a police officer and speeding.

The three incidents took place in Orange County, Fla.

In 2005, Zimmerman, then 20, was arrested and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer,” both which are third-degree felonies. The charge was reduced to “resisting officer without violence” and then waived when he entered an alcohol education program. Contemporaneous accounts indicate he shoved an officer who was questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking at an Orange County bar.

In August 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancee, Veronica Zuazo, filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman counterfiled for a restraining order against Zuazo. The competing claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.”

Sounds to me that Zimmerman was a stupid 20-year-old who got caught drinking and probably driving, resisted arrest and shoved a different officer at a bar during another act of stupidity. The domestic violence case sounds to me as if its two immature (probably drinking) 20-year-olds who should have had restraining orders granted against them.

But that’s the extent of Zimmerman’s rap sheet. It begins and ends in 2005. No domestic disturbances have been filed by his wife or neighbors.

Zimmerman will have to live with the knowledge that he took the life of someone who’ll never be able even to reach 20 years old. That’s no victory. Nor could a “guilty” verdict have given the Martin family any lasting comfort. They will never see their son again and that’s an unimaginable for any parent.

So, do I think you can draw a direct line from the NRA’s relentless campaign to arm Americans to the shooting of Trayvon Martin? Yes. But let’s also include many other factors: Conceal and Carry Laws, Stand Your Ground Laws (which, by the way, always have been the way of the Wild, Wild West), crime, longstanding racial suspicions, Americans’ alienation from selves and neighbors, media hype, political opportunism, fear, the effects of divorce, of dreams unrealized, and the pressure we put on young boys so they end up believing they must grow up and fight – to the death, if necessary – to be like real men.

It’s an American tragedy.

Happy Valentine’s from Andy Borowitz

February 14, 2013
Choking Back Tears, N.R.A. Leader Marries Gun
Posted by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In what he called “the happiest day of my life,” National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre marked Valentine’s Day by marrying his longtime gun, an AK-47 assault rifle.

Mr. LaPierre grew emotional as he reminisced about meeting the firearm at a gun show in Alabama in 1991.

“The chemistry between us was amazing,” he said. “Our first weekend together, all we did was shoot.”

Marriage between a human and a gun is not legal in most states, a situation that Mr. LaPierre bemoans: “For a lot of N.R.A. members it’s the only intimate relationship they’re capable of.”

The wedding ceremony was attended by twenty-five of Mr. LaPierre’s guns and over two hundred members of Congress.

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Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty.

Read more:

(NB: I start each morning with an email of Borowitz humor. It works for me. Check him out.)

30 Murdered at Connecticut Elementary School

30 people shot and killed by a 24-year-old who carried this rifle, legal rifle, in the land of the NRA, into an elementary school while it was in session.

18-20 of the 30 dead were children – many in kindergarten – from 5 to 10 years old.

The 24-year-old also killed his mother, a teacher; he’s dead, as well.

We must take our country back from the NRA and now.

Explain this:

AP: Suspect used .223 caliber rifle. This is a picture of a .223 rifle. This is legal.

William Souder’s “On a Farther Shore” Scores NYTimes Nod

Congratulations to our very Rowdy William Souder whose biography of Rachel Carson, On a Farther Shore, has been named to the “100 Notable Books of 2012” by the New York Times.

What a nice acknowledgment for our friend of a job well done.

Author and reviewer Elizabeth Royte calls Williams’s writing “absorbing.” Here’s part of her summary:

In Souder’s telling, almost every aspect of Carson’s life and times becomes captivating: her difficult personal circumstances (she grew up in rural poverty, was the sole breadwinner in her family and battled breast cancer while writing and then defending “Silent Spring”); the publishing milieu; and the continuing friction between those who would preserve nature versus those who would bend it to provide utility for man.

Sources also tell me Bill will be on C-SPAN’s “Book TV” this Saturday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. our time. (And, no, I am not his press agent.)

How cool is this all? Way cool. Nicely played, Master Souder.

What Would Nixon Do?

In light of the discussions about fiscal cliffs, spendthrift Democrats and plutocratic Republicans who never met a tax cut for the rich they didn’t like comes this video I stumbled across. Richard M. Nixon explaining that it’s not how much government spends that matters; it’s what they spend it on. This man had a heart, people.

So what would Nixon make of all of our squabbling? I think he’d be a centrist, someone you could meet in the middle and do business with. Too bad we’ve lost that.

VIDEO: From the History Channel

CAMPAIGN SHOCKER: Bloomberg + Obama

Just announced: NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg has endorsed Barack Obama for President. In the wake of Hurrican Sandy, Bloomberg now “gets it” on climate change and believes Obama will be more serious in addressing the issue.


I’m at work, folks, so I can’t say much more now. But discuss amongst yourselves.

Why the London Olympics Were a Complete Success (Despite Mitt Romney)

Strange Looking People at the Olympics
This will not be a travelogue.

I will not talk about the majesty of seeing the emerald hillsides, of hearing the roaring seacoast nor spending a night in a glorious 16th century castle in Ireland; nor will I speak of ten exuberant days touring London and every great site from Westminster Abbey to the Jublilee Display of 10,000 of the Queen’s Diamonds. And only a snob of the snootiest order would speak of a you-don’t-even-want-to-know-how-much-it-cost-our-hostess dinner at Claridge’s.

Wait. Did I just give you a travelogue? Sorry. I meant to make this a brief description of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, which I attended Aug. 4-14.

The Olympics will forever more define the word “spectacle” for me. London was a superb host, completely ready for those games despite Mitt Romney’s criticism to the contrary. The city was impeccably clean although one cabbie told me it usually looks that way. Transportation was no problem. Londoners had been asked to take the tube and trains in to work earlier than usual – or find alternative means of transport – so that the lines would be free for event goers during the day and into evening. And of course, taxis were everywhere if you were willing to pay the pounds.

{Tip: If you go to London, it’s worth it to purchase The London Pass and the London Travelcard. With those two in hand, you can get from one landmark to another, get to the front of “queues” and fly through underground stations. Just Google them.)

Olympic organizers had also spent a great amount of time posting signage that lost tourists needed to find their way to three dozen different venues. Most helpful were the 70,000 volunteers, called “Games Makers” for the integral role they played, who could easily be spotted along the sides of the roads, at stations, at events – beginning at Heathrow. (Some 240,000 people applied for these volunteer positions. Interviewing began in 2010. And Romney thought the city wasn’t ready?)

Londoners themselves were very helpful and seemed happy we were there. And despite dire publicity that British soldiers would be everywhere, we scarcely saw them. (Maybe that’s how well camouflaged they were?)

We did not attend Opening Ceremonies; tickets were going for $3,700 per.
If you watched, you know they were just strange, wonderful, ducky – British, in other words. I loved that the Queen was such a good sport in agreeing to the James Bond spoof.

What a thrill to watch the U.S. women’s soccer team beat Japan for a Gold Medal. Imagine a record 84,000 fans packed into Wembley Stadium, thousands of them decked out in some combination of red, white and blue. Brilliant fun.

I admit it: I’m a sucker for pageantry. And when the U.S. women stood on the middle stage during the playing of the National Anthem and our flag was raised just slightly higher than Japan’s and Canada’s (Eh), I was verklempt.

We also attended women’s championship volleyball where the U.S. lost to Brazil, the country that will host the 2016 games.

But the strangest Olympic event we attended was women’s team handball. Never heard of it? Neither had we. But the Brits now love it. Wow. What a vicious, tough sport. Think soccer with no padding but with gouging of the opponents’ eyes allowed. Yikes.

By the way, because you purchase Olympic tickets in advance of knowing who will be playing, we ended up watching Korea play Russia in that event. Never have I cared less about rooting for anyone. Nonetheless, I cheered on Korea but had the most fun watching Russian coach Andre Trefilov go apopletic in the way he encouraged his team.

The overall feeling in London during those 10 days was that One Big Party was being held and you were in it. And it seemed that young people, those 20-year-olds who are supposed to be so cynical about everything, were having the most fun of all.

In addition, imagine having more than 10,000 Olympic athletes, all with extraordinary physiques, staying in the same place and at the same time. Rumor had it there was quite a lot of hooking up in the Olympic Village. America’s own Michael Phelps went out clubbing one night wearing three of his Gold Medals around his neck.

Ah, youth.

Supreme Court decision reporting really screwed up


    * Individual mandate struck down CNN 9:10 a.m.
    * Government can’t force you to buy insurance 9:11 a.m.


    Today Show: Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law 9:12 a.m.

CNN * CNN: We’re getting widely different reports on Healthcare law 9:13

    On-scene reporter: CJ Roberts said Mandate MAY BE UPHELD under the Congress’ taxing clause (She just overturned her own reporting) 9:14 a.m.
    9:16 CNN scroll: Obamacare Partly Upheld, Partly Struck Down

9:17 FOX NEWS: Supreme Court Upholds Individual Mandate

    John Robert’s decision saves the law
    Chief Justice was the “decider”
    Majority Opinion: Roberts Ginzberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagen
    Dissent: Scalia Kennedy Alito Thomas

CNN: Wolf Blitzer: Chief Justce Roberts was “the decider” 9:24

FOX NEWS: I believe it was the first reporting based on reading from actual opinion. I found that helpful. Everything went “objective” until about 9:30, when Gretta Sustern showed up, and went political. Then Megan Kelly and the rest in studio jumped in. The anchors in the beginning seemed stunned but admitted this was an “amazing victory” for President Obama.

Wolf Blitzer is very, very, very, very annoying. His hype is just too much.

And in the Shittiest Move of the Day: The Today show chose today right before the Health Care Decision to let Ann Curry have a 5-minute goodbye after they unceremoniously dumped her:

Ann Curry Goodbye

When the Today Show “family” reappeared at the top of the next hour, Curry was gone and Savannah Guthrie was already cheerfully sitting on the couch next to nothing-is-his-doing Matt Lauer and does-anyone-trust-this-guy Al Roker.

Facebook? Make that a Google, Please.

Only two out of five Americans are not on Facebook. I’m one of the lonely who stay out of the joint by choice. Although I’m darn social-media-savvy (proud to say I was an early adopter on Twitter, beginning in fall 2007. Compare that to the guy on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” this morning – I don’t know his name – who conquered Twitter in March. Piker.)

However, when students ask why I’m not on Facebook, I tell them it’s because I don’t want any more friends. They usually laugh..even though within seconds their eyes begin sneaking peeks at their friends’ updates and I can tell that I have once again successfully managed to avoid drilling deep into any relationship with them.

Yesterday Facebook launched its IPO, the third largest in history. Creator Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire times twenty. The link that best summarizes what happened within the next 24 hours was from the’s Follow Mark Zuckerberg’s Worth in Real Time During Facebook IPO Day. Take a sec right now to check it out but then please come back.

You see, it’s the peaks and the valleys of the day that interest me most. We can’t tell how much MZ was up or down at any given moment – the stock ran from $38 to $41 as best as I can tell, then finished flat. So, give or take one billion, or 500-million or whatever, you’re talking about big numbers that the average person might want to be a part of.

But what would you really be buying if you purchased even one share of Facebook stock? Yes, you’d be part owner of a company that has 900 million followers, is the largest time suck of all the social media sites and even had a movie made summarizing its start.

But that would be about it.

Apart from MZ and all of the people lucky enough to have owned stock before the IPO, {NB: The price of a starter home in Palo Alto is now $2 million. Damn Gen Y.} it’s hard to see where there’s any “worth” in it. I don’t care what anybody says: No body is going to look at your stupid ad on Facebook. And if you can’t “sell” those eyeballs, you’re not selling anything.

Look at this fantastic interactive from the The Facebook Offering: How it Compares. (I love online news sites that do cool stuff such as this.) Tech stocks launch with great fanfare..but then go flat or even bust.

Except for Google. Now Google is probably not the sainted company it proclaims to aim to be with its motto: “Don’t be Evil.” Google is too damn big, too intrusive. But it is so darn good at what it does. That’s why Google is still the king, as far as I’m concerned.

Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Forms, OH! and don’t forget good old Google search. Where would we be without them? But be aware, be very aware, that Google has been using its secret sauce algorithms to collect oodles (a techie term) of data bits on you, your life, your wife, your need for a plumber, your location. Remember when you wrote a gmail telling your sister that you probably needed to re-shingle your mom’s house and the next time you opened gmail a list of roofers in your area opened up on the right? Spooky, man.

And I pray it never comes down to The New York Times v. Googlezon, I shared with you in 2008.

But for now, for me, please wrap up one share of Google stock and send it along.

Don’t have my address? Just Google it.

(This post in no way is meant to be interpreted as an offer to buy or sell any security or to make claims as to any stock’s future performance. Individual stocks can vary widely in price and you certainly should not put all of your 401-K eggs into any one basket. Please, consult your physician before purchasing these or any other securities, bonds, notes or other assets. Also, TSRC is not responsible for the views of this Ellen person.)

“Onward, Wisconsin!”

So, how do you call it? Will Gov. Walker be recalled tonight over in Wisconsin? I say “Yes” but not by a landslide. But it will be “Yes.” Why? Because people who want him out REALLY want him out more than the people who think he’s doing a fine job. The former will turn out come hell or high water.


Any other bets out there?


MULTIPLE CHOICE: For each question below, please circle the letter of the correct response. Each letter should be used only ONCE.

1. Which candidate is quoted as saying:”The separation of church and state makes me want to throw up!”?
a. Newt Gingrich
b. Mitt Romney
c. Rick Santorum
d. Ron Paul

2. Who is quoted as boasting about the two Cadillacs his wife drives?
a. Newt Gingrich
b. Mitt Romney
c. Rick Santorum
d. Ron Paul

3. Who is dreaming about establishing territories on the moon?
a. Newt Gingrich
b. Mitt Romney
c. Rick Santorum
d. Ron Paul

4. Who is left standing there looking at the others and thinking, “And they think I’m nucking futs?”
a. Newt Gingrich
b. Mitt Romney
c. Rick Santorum
d. Ron Paul

SCORING: It really doesn’t matter, folks. Because, as Simon and Garfunkel put it so long ago, “Talk about it, shout about it. When you’ve got to choose, every way you look at it you lose.”

Where are the Women?

Last night I dreamed I was back in the 1950s…

WHEW! What a dream!

First, I had that nightmare that a Congressional panel of men held hearings on the advisability of allowing birth control pills and contraceptive sponges to be available to millions of American women who might need them. In this dream, women were not even allowed to testify!

Congressional Committee of Wise Men

Instead, a Catholic bishop, a professor and three other men were questioned on reproductive rights, although what they know would know about female sexuality is beyond me. Especially the professor.

And then, when a female Georgetown law student who works with other young women on these issue asked to testify as to the importance of health care coverage of contraceptive pills, she was told she was not “qualified” to do so. I know this all sounds CRAZY but that’s what dreams are like sometimes, just plain whacky.

Not “Qualified" to Testify

And then, right before I woke up, the dream took the strangest turn of all. I fast-forwarded and suddenly I was watching an interview between MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and some old crinkled up white guy. He was holding a big bag of cash and wearing a “VOTE FOR SANTORUM” button on his lapel.

Anyhoo, Andrea asked about his Santorum’s views on some of the big issues of the week and he offered this clever and cost-effective way women could prevent pregnancy:

(Says men should put their Viagra where?!)

You know: I’m being flip here because I’d cry otherwise. How have things come to this point that we are even discussing the necessity or advisability of contraception? That a Congressional oversight committee of 5 men have the gall to call 8 other men as experts in the area of women’s health?

The week also included a proposed law in Virginia, the land of Jefferson, that would require women who seek to have abortions to have state-ordered endoscopic vaginal exams. STATE-ORDERED. Men, imagine having state-ordered socket wrenches examine your rectums and you can begin to understand what the scopes feel like and how intrusive they are.

ENOUGH. Time to support Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, the Democratic party, any group, whomever YOU judge them to be, that you believe can be a strong advocate in fighting back this right-wing christian conservative campaign.

It’s my life. And, it’s yours.

Sink the Pink: How Susan G. Komen Rebranded Itself

Susan G. Komen Foundation. Sponsors “Race For the Cure.” Stamps eggs, orange juice and yogurt covers with pink ribbons. Above politics.

Such was the “branding” of one of the most important organizations founded on the promise of safeguarding women’s lives by fighting the early detection of breast cancer.

A public relations firm might charge, what?, $100-250,000 for a comprehensive marketing/public relations rebranding campaign. The effort would be enormous and probably take from 12-18 months. But the Susan G. Komen Foundation has rebranded itself within the past 72 hours for zero dollars but at an incalculable cost.

Since 1982, when her only sister died of breast cancer, Nancy G. Brinker has dedicated her philanthropic life to creating the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Since then, the Komen Foundation has raised and distributed $1.9 billion for breast cancer research, education and healthcare screening. For this unselfish work, Brinker has rightfully been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and was presented the Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

But earlier this week, did Brinker cave in to political pressures to defund Planned Parenthood, long the punching bag of right-wing ideologues? At first, Brinker claimed the Fund had come to its decision to do so because Planned Parenthood was “under investigation” and the Fund’s policy is not to fund such groups. But by whom was Planned Parenthood being investigated? Conservative Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, a fierce anti-abortion politician. (He sits, by the way, on the House committee of Energy and Commerce. What this has to do with women’s health care, is beyond me.)

Within the day, Brinker was changing and massaging the message, trying to explain that nothing had been unfunded, that Planned Parenthood was, indeed, going to be receiving the $77,000 it had been promised for 16 clinics. But going forward, Brinker explained, the relationship could not continue because in 2010 the Komen Board had demanded a new set of criteria be met in order for funds to be released to any healthcare organization. And Planned Parenthood did not meet those new matrices.

What followed that night was an extraordinary exchange with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC in which Mitchell could barely contain outrage at Komen’s handling of Planned Parenthood. Brinker’s attempts to back-pedal on her original statement as to why Komen had cut its ties with Planned Parenthood were, in turn, cut to shreds by Mitchell (proving, once again, what a seasoned journalist, set free from the artificial bind of “objectivity,” can get done.)

Most incredible was the passion with which women and men responded to what they saw as a betrayal of the support they had given to Komen. Long-time donors vowed never to give to or run in the Race again, followers on Facebook produced videos in which they cut pink ribbons in half, men on Twitter defended their women’s needs for Planned Parenthood’s services and even NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $250,000 in matching funds for the continued support of local clinics. Within one day, more than $2 million in donations were made to Planned Parenthood.

By this afternoon, Brinker appeared before the media to announce that the Komen Board would reverse its decision – but not on the basis of matrices and measures. Instead, Komen will make certain only groups that have been convicted of criminal, not political, charges are out of the funding process. Although this might appear Komen is whole-heartedly re-establishing its partnership with Planned Parenthood, Brinker is instead spinning this one; Brinker never says that at all.

Still, the damage has been done but not to Planned Parenthood. For decades, this organizations has provided education, health screening and low-cost medical treatments for poor and under-insured women. Young women are able to receive breast cancer screenings and gynecological exams at highly vulnerable times in their lives. And Planned Parenthood has continued to provide this help while enduring great political and societal abuse, but quietly, faithfully. Abortion services, a legal procedure in the United States of America, accounts for less than 3% of its funds.

The sadness is that both Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure are desperately needed. Neither group can afford to ignore the other, not without discounting those who need them the most.

Whether or not it meant to do so, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has rebranded itself within the past three days. It allowed itself to get caught in the unrelenting right-wing purification process in America in which Those Who Talk to God are dedicated to the proposition that what a woman does with her body is their business, that their political judgments can be inserted into even her most private of medical decisions and that their divine sense of morality can, must and will prevail.

All I know is that I wrote out two checks this morning. One went to my hometown church, the one from which my beloved mother was buried last spring. The other went to an organization I’ve supported in silence but overlooked for far too long.


Quick. What do Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, Michele Bachmann and Ellen Mrja have in common? (Yes, I said Michele Bachmann.)

They’re all against HR 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and her evil twin in the Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). What a disappointment that Minnesota senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken support these well-intentioned but thoroughly misguided stepping stones into internet censorship. Boo!

The best description of SOPA can be found on the site, which calls this battle a “SOPA Opera.” There you’ll find the mark-up of the bill and its history. But in a nutshell…

What drives these two pieces of proposed legislation is the loss of billions of dollars annually by the motion picture, recording and other copyright-driven industries by illegally downloaded music, pirated movies and rogue websites. In particular, foreign rogue websites are called out for mass producing pirated American films before the movie is scarcely in domestic release, resulting in a staggering loss of money executives have not yet found a way to recover.

And so, on the one side you have Warner Bros., Paramount Studios, Sony Music. They’re joined by the rest of “old Hollywood,” the Motion Picture Association of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (“There’s NO business like SHOW business..!” and, odd-fellow in, the AFL-CIO.

But in the other corner you have the Silicon Valley slicks, the new geniuses who envision and then execute the sites that have transformed how we interact, find news, purchase goods and services, trade information. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, all were founded on the proposition that the internet is an anarchy and that’s what makes it open to experimentation, trial-error, “let’s blow this up and see what happens” thinking.

I also vote for anarchy. Michele Bachmann probably has a much saner reason, as I’ll explain in a moment.

Key to making SOPA and PIPA work is the ability for companies that believe they’ve had material ripped off to go to the U.S. Justice Department which could use sweeping new powers to “go after” these sites. How would this be done? In any combination of the following:

    *By punishing sites that infringe on copyright OR EVEN THOSE THAT LINK to these sites.
    *By shutting down financial transfers to these sites (the same technique used against WikiLeaks when Assange’s supporters mirrored his work forward) and
    *By giving Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Verizon or Comcast the power to voluntarily block sites through so-called “vigilante provisions.” Entire sites could be shut down through something called DNS Blocking. Domain Name System (DNS) is the text-based address we use to identify different computers on the internet. The DNS names are cross-listed with Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in online databases; each computer, including yours right now, has its own IP address (a series of numbers and periods). So, by blocking entire DNS sites, the government also now has a listing of the IPs that were visiting that address.

I’m going to guess it’s this unprecedented intrusion by Big Government into law-abiding American internet users’ homes that Bachmann finds so objectionable; I know I do. Right now the U.S. Supreme Court has given the internet full First Amendment protections — from government. Even any attempt at
any power by the government to censor this most glorious of new media must be fought at every turn. The government never goes backward on its powers.

And POTUS? Well, he’s taken his typical political approach to this legislation. While he “believe we must protect the livelihoods of creative industries…blah, blah, blah,..we must also make sure cyberspace does not become the home of censorship blah, blah, blah.” At least our friend Rupert Murdoch takes a stand: he’s in a fine dungeon high dudgeon over SOPA. He supports the legislation and tweeted Saturday night:
“So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.”

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has announced he is going to make the site black for 24 hours starting tomorrow as a visual protest of what government censorship could like like in an extreme form. Social media site Redditt plans to do the same; Google will probably use its page to send searchers to U.S. Senators’ and Representatives’ offices.

And so, “The fight is curiously nonpartisan,” as the put it. And I’m in bed with Michele Bachmann.

As of 2 hours ago, The SOPA vote has been delayed (too many phone calls and emails, Congress?) but the Senate vote is still stubbornly set for January 24. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s phone number is 202-224-3244. Sen. Al Franken prefers email messages. Just Google him. If Google’s still open.


UPDATE: After a successful day of protests (and reading a discouraging number of tweets from young people nationwide that asked: WTFISOPA? and The internet is ending???????!!!!!!) I wanted to thank you all for a great discussion with this little treat — Hitler Reacting to SOPA. Enjoy.

LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign

Rowdy friend and regular visitor Kelly Groehler’s new guidebook to using social media in political campaigns, LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign (in Politics, Business or Otherwise), is hot off the digital presses. Available now in paperback but later this month as an e-book, it’s dedicated to the premise that any candidate, cause or organization that ignores social media today does so at his/hers/its own peril.

And, P.S., relying on your son or daughter to run your social media campaign just ain’t gonna’ cut it.

So Groehler, while a 2010-2011 Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joined three other researchers in studying the use of social media in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race. Their conclusions drive a set of seven rules and 10 basic steps in how to begin using social media in your own campaign.

Independent candidate Tom Horner and campaign staffers for Republican candidate Tom Emmer and Democratic governor Mark Dayton provided candid background information to Groehler and her fellow researchers: Dave Ladd, president of RDL & Associates strategic consulting firm; Greg Swanholm, senior constituent advocate for U. S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Bass Zanjani, deputy district director for U. S. Congressman Keith Ellison.

The key word in the work’s title, LIKE, reminds us that today’s internet stars user-generated content; positive response to that content can be your best campaign message precisely because it is not seen as political propaganda or one-way messaging. However, the flip of this proposition is equally as powerful: unflattering tweets, Facebook messages or YouTube videos can drive a negative force from which a candidate never recovers (think of the aptly-named Anthony Wiener).

LIKE is designed for the novice user of social media and thus, can begin the discussion of why social media matter, what investment of time and resources they will take (no, they’re not “free”) and where to begin in planning an effective template that incorporates social media with traditional media channels.

And the most important take-away of LIKE should be this: campaigns today really are conversations. They involve give and take, multiplied by 800 million members of Facebook.

Follow the LIKE effort on Twitter @LIKESEVEN10.

OWS: These Kids Are Not All Right

Those who view Occupy Wall Street protesters as nothing more than simpering, petulant children just don’t get it.

They’re adults we marginalize with the sobriquet “kids”. And these kids are not all right.

Take a look at this graph illustrating unemployment for those aged 15-24 in 15 industrialized nations, (cf. 2008 to Q1 2011):

Graph of youth unemployment industrialized nations

The chart is not provided by some liberal site but by the staid The Economist.

Or see the depressing round-up of unemployment surveys for youth in the Middle East and Africa from Bloomberg It’s obvious the rage that finally propelled young people into Middle Eastern streets in the fall of 2010 and into the “Arab Spring” earlier this year was economic as well as political. What difference does it make if the foot on your throat is wearing a fascist boot or squared-toe Berluti?

The situation has become so serious, it’s now being likened to a ‘time bomb’:

While the details differ from one nation to the next, the common element is failure—not just of young people to find a place in society, but of society itself to harness the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the next generation. Here’s what makes it extra-worrisome: The world is aging. In many countries the young are being crushed by a gerontocracy of older workers who appear determined to cling to the better jobs as long as possible and then, when they do retire, demand impossibly rich private and public pensions that the younger generation will be forced to shoulder.

In short, the fissure between young and old is deepening. “The older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato told Corriere della Sera. In Britain, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has called chronic unemployment a “ticking time bomb.” Jeffrey A. Joerres, chief executive officer of Manpower (MAN), a temporary-services firm with offices in 82 countries and territories, adds, “Youth unemployment will clearly be the epidemic of this next decade unless we get on it right away. You can’t throw in the towel on this.”

Closer to home, economic demographers say the huge increase in the number of Minnesotans in their 50s and 60s who will be retiring will create an unsustainable situation; we’ll be siphoning the state budget off for entitlements and programs for health and aging while economic growth through 2020 will be half of what it was. Barring a miracle, we’re unlikely to see a growth in revenue again. Attempts to discuss tax increases will continue to be protested by tea-types who, nonetheless, are happy to line up for their state aid.

I don’t believe there’s a disconnect between members of this younger generation and their own parents and grandparents; they wouldn’t want to deny their elders any social benefits.

However, the young feel no loyalty to the noblesse oblige or the mystical market to which so many others swear allegiance.

And now I’m one of those gerontological messer-uppers who’ll soon need Social Security much more than social networking. But in my heart, I’m a closet protester, someone born to root for the underdog, who believes in comforting the afflicted but also afflicting the comfortable (with credit to Finley Peter Dunne) when necessary.

The current demonstrations remind me this nation was founded on protest and that no good idea since has been sanctified except through protest. They also call to mind the hyperbolic but thrilling end to the popular film “‘V’ for Vendetta.” Shortly before his death at the hands of a totalitarian police force, V instructs his protege: “Governments should be afraid of their people.”

It appears neither our government – nor our corporations – are there yet.

SPOILER VIDEO of “‘V’ for Vendetta.”

Rupert Murdoch: The Story Thus Far

Is Rupert Murdoch evil? Or brilliant? Or lucky? So immense are his holdings that a list is the only way to explain what they are.

It’s fascinating that the man who brings us Fox Views News also brings us the Wall Street Journal, which once was quite a good paper. Murdoch’s most enduring legacy, I predict, will be The Simpsons (no kidding.)

But it’s the British holdings we’re concerned with now because they appear to have Mr. M.’s 80-year-old bells in a wringer. The story thus far…

Beginning in late 2005, Court sycophants became concerned that someone somehow was learning of Royal Family Secrets. Because this suspicion involved a high-profile family, the venerable Scotland Yard was called in to investigate. Rumors began to circulate that reporters at Murdoch’s News of the World (henceforth called NoW) and The Sun may have illegally wiretapped and pinged the telephones of numerous celebrities, including the Princes William and Harry. This was high-level stuff, so hot that it resulted in the spring 2006 leak Harry had visited a strip club! The Sun’s precision headline: “Harry Buried Face in Margo’s Mega-Boobs. Stripper Jiggled . . . Prince Giggled.” I know some of you want to see a Royal between two boobs, so here you go.

Scotland Yard, deeply embarrassed, hastily concluded the wiretapping was performed by only two journalists, Royals’ watcher Clive Goodman and investigator Glenn Mulcaire. (The two had learned how to capture the PIN numbers of cell phones owned by Royals, celebrities, politicians, etc. Thus, they were able to listen to voice mail left on those cells and find “scoops.” By using pinging, the reporters could also physically locate someone.

(And here’s audio of Mulcaire explaining to another reporter how to capture a soccer coach’s number, courtesy of the audio.)

The problem was that during its investigation, Scotland Yard came up with much more evidence that dozens – if not hundreds – of other cases existed where News of the World reporters had performed similar illegal taps. Most were of the celebrity ilk, such as listening in on voice mails of Jude Law, Siena Miller, Mick Jagger and, the greatest of them all, Hugh Grant.

However, and this just kills me, the Yard decided pursing the case “was a heavy stone that they didn’t want to try to lift,” according to one parliamentarian. Instead the Yard mumbled something about pursing terrorism (which translates into British as “pfroofreeing trzm”).

But, the Eugenie was out of the bottle. Numerous families filed police reports alleging the same violations against the NoW particularly. Since it was Murdoch the police clearly would have to go up against, they – like the Yard – did nothing.

What we didn’t know then but know now is that the most heart-wrenching, unethical, immoral and unforgivable tapping had already been done in 2002 on the cell phone of a missing 13-year-old school girl, Milly Dowler. Dowler was missing for six desperate months before her remains were found. During that time, NoW scumbags tapped into her phone messages, listened to those left by her desperate friends and family, erased messages when the inbox became full so that more could come in and, thus, confounded police as to whether or not the girl was still alive and/or where she might be.

When did all of this wrong-doing become known? Well, the NYT first blew the whistle in September 2010 on some of the shady practices in Murdoch’s papers when it interviewed, among others, former NoW entertainment reporter Sean Hoare who explained the widespread and editor-approved practices. NoW editors angrily accused the NYT of professional jealousy. And then everyone’s attention was taken up in the Royal Wedding and the “scandal” died down during the winter and spring of 2011.

But it would not go away. The Yard, caught in an unprofessional and illegal position itself, had to notify hundreds of shocked subjects that they, too, may have been subject to illegal taps..violations that had taken place years previously that the Yard knew about but did not bother to inform people of. (The number now stands at approximately 4,000.)

By early July of this year, everything exploded when a rival newspaper revealed the Murdoch’s News of the World had tampered with evidence in the 2002 Milly Dowler case.

Outrage was swift and very real.

On July 8, Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World from 2003 to 2007, was arrested for his connection to the scandal and other corruption charges. (It is worth noting that after Coulson left his editorship of NoW, he became – upon Murdoch’s recommendation – the communications director for current British Prime Minister David Cameron. Hmm. But don’t worry folks. Cameron cut short a visit to Africa to call for a special Parliamentary inquiry into the affair.)

Murdoch was forced to drop his attempted takeover of BSkyB cable in Great Britain, a multibillion-dollar move that would have given him the same power in broadcasting as he enjoys in print.

The best PR agency in the world, Bell Potinger, was called in for “refuse de-odorification.” And it would be needed, quickly.

On July 15 Rebekah Brooks, editor of the NoW from 2000-2003 – when many of these atrocious activities took place – resigned.

She was arrested on July 17.

Also on July 15, Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, who has been with Murdoch for 50 years, resigned. Dow Jones, of course, owns the Wall Street Journal, which used to be quite a good paper.

On the weekend, Murdoch visited the Dowler family and apologized numerous times for their injury. While the apologies were heartfelt, the family’s attorney says the Dowlers have indicated “they can forgive but not forget,” which translated into British means: “See you in court, bastard.”

On July 17, Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police commissioner and head of Scotland Yard, resigned. He denied knowing anything about the cover-up of illegal taps or new allegations of police bribery by reporters.

John Yates, the other top police official of Scotland Yard who reviewed phone-hacking evidence in 2009 and concluded there was no need for a deeper investigation, resigned.

Murdoch published a public apology to his readers on the same weekend.

And then on July, what happened again on Monday, the 18th? I know it’s something kind of important.

Oh yeah. Now I remember:

Sean Hoare, the former NoW entertainment reporter who first busted the NoW for its practices, was FOUND DEAD IN HIS APARTMENT! AND HE WAS IN HIS 40s! AND THE POLICE DO NOT BELIEVE HIS DEATH WAS SUSPICIOUS! AND HE WAS IN HIS 40s!

As Jon Stewart puts it, if the police – who are investigating allegations of bribery against them by the same man who is found dead in his apartment – are satisfied his death was not suspicious, then it’s OK with him, too.

That almost brings us up to date. At last week’s hearing before a select committee of Parliament, a hooligan tried to throw a cream pie (A CREAM PIE!) at Mr. Murdoch during his testimony. Although Murdoch got some of it in on his suit but not in the puss, the worst damage was inflicted on the miscreant who was promptly thumped by the 30-year-old Mrs. Murdoch, Wendi Deng. You have got to see this video. Wendi is in the beautiful pink jacket. (Versace, perhaps?) I am so impressed by her no-nonsense, take-no-prisoner, stand-by-her-man, leap-over-the-crowd defense of Murdoch. Seriously, Murdoch owes her BIG TIME for that. And, gentlemen. You must honestly ask yourselves: Would your wives do THIS for YOU?

It’s reported that Rebekah Brooks is staying with the current British Prime Minister, David Cameon. (He’s also the same person who called the parliamentary investigation. But, hey! Apartments are hard to find in London.)

Murdoch and Deng will continue to live nice lives. He did not know what was going on at his papers. Neither did his son. Neither did Rebekah Brooks. Nobody seen nothin’, see?

But former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who claims the NoW obtained confidential medical records of his son, summarized the situation best on Wednesday when he testified that victims watched “their private, innermost feelings and their private tears bought and sold by News International for commercial gain.”

In doing so, he said, “News International descended from the gutter to the sewer.”

P.S. On July 10, Rupert Murdoch closed the 168-year-old News of the World.

In Case You’ve Missed Us…

Dear Friends of the Rowdy Crowd:

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the past two weeks, I can assure you we’ve not been a part of the government shutdown. Nor, as some have suggested, was I sequestered as a juror in the Casey Anthony murder trial. (One of us did, indeed, serve on the O.J. criminal trial back in 1995 but his name shall remain anonymous. 😉 OK, MK?)

The truth is our trusted hosting site was having a bit of a hiccup when it came to allowing new posts on TSRC. We were assured it had nothing to do with the quality of material found here regularly but was – how did they put it? – Just One of Those Things.

Please also know that we did think about you, about each and every one of you. That’s because Austin presented the rest of us with a scheme to charge each of you what he called “micro-payments” to read our posts. He’s such a dreamer. Loveland then answered perhaps we should pay each of you for making this blog one of daily discussion, debate and delight.

So, thanks for waiting for us. Thanks for being there. Take care and carry one.

-The Mgmt

To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

Do any of you have daughters who are in elementary school, some of the sweetest years for little girls? small business internet marketing Unsure at first, they’re moving out of their baby days to discover through exploration and adventure they can hold their own, that they’re smart, and that – of course! – they’ll be able to become anything they want to someday. Some of the bravest little girls in literature have been this age; think 6-year-old “Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird” or eleven-year-old Anne in “Anne of Green Gables.” small business accounting

So why are we determined to rob girls of this precious time?

Abercrombie and Fitch, the retail giant that’s been branded as a home for preppies and their WBs, stepped in their own drek this week when it was revealed they were marketing an inappopriate article of clothing, a bikini top for little girls called the Fallon.

If the Fallon (love the black version) looks sort of, well, puffed out, that’s because it is. The Fallon – like many of the bikini tops in the A&F summer line for girls of 9 or 10 – is padded. Padded. As in “push up bra Victoria’s Secret” time padded. (Interesting that the website does not allow for a side-view of the “Fallon.” ) small business advice

Forced to rename the description of the bikini top as a “triangle” in a pathetic attempt to make itself appear to be a company that cares about its customers, A&F nonetheless revealed to me that it’s a company that can’t wait to make your 5th grade girl feel she’s not good enough.

But while sending this message to our little Jo’s, we mix it up by telling them they are good for some things. I present you now with the “Breast Feeding Baby” doll (sorry for the ad; ABC insists):

Breastfeeding Dolls: Too Much Too Soon? – ABC News.

Again, it’s interesting to me the only people in the story who seem to find the doll harmless are the three men, including George Stephanopolous, whom (I assume) have never breastfed but seem to like the dolls because they allow little girls to copy their moms and prepare for the mysteries of Womanhood.

Well, time and place, George. Time and place.

Otherwise, how about a “Patty’s First Pap Smear” doll, designed to teach little girls the position they’ll assume for that eventuality? Or “Virginia’s Very Own Baby,” a “mommy” doll built to accommodate within its vinyl belly a newborn doll encased within a slippery pod (think Lady GaGa)? Then all the little girls who need to worry about practicing childbirth (instead of worrying about whether they should take tennis or swim lessons this summer) could push on the mommy doll’s vinyl stomach for anywhere between 4 and 12 hours until WOW! The “newborn” plops out on the kitchen table! Unzip the sac and POW! Your very own baby-doll-momma-baby doll! WOW AND POW!

One of the sickest examples of sexualizing our girls comes from the cable show “Toddlers and Tiaras.” This program takes us into the wretched world of beauty pageants for little girls, aged toddlers and up.

This is the sad story of parents who can least afford to do so driving hundreds of miles every month to low-rate hotels where “Little Miss Lemon Drop” or “Little Miss Cupcake” contests are being held. Over the course of the next two days, parents will “allow”? “encourage”? “force”? their young daughters to wear full makeup – foundation, blush, mascara, eyeliner – and the oh so necessary “flippers.”

“Flippers,” for those of us who were not privy to having them when we needed them most, are denture-like apparati girls who’ve lost a tooth or two during pageant season must wear to cover their shame. Even girls who might not need the “flippers” use them because that other-worldly-white smile is part of the girls’ sparkle:

Brandi uses a "flipper" to be beautiful

These girls are spray-tanned, coiffed, fluffed and run ragged before the pageant proper even begins. And so, to pep them up, mothers and fathers pour sugar (remember Pixie Stix?) into the girls so they can bump and grind in their sequined sailor suits. As any parent knows, tired + sugar = meltdown. Thus, we get to see plently of drama between the girls and their moms before the pageant is over.

I know there are probably little girls who love these pageants, the dressing up and pretending to be princesses. But do you get the feeling it’s the mothers who are digging this most of all?

You’re right, lady. “She was off..way off.” We all are.