Amy Lynn Gillespie

There’s one thing regarding the tale of Amy Lynn Gillespie that doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.

I mean, not much of it does actually make sense. Let me review a bit now so you can see what I mean.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette of Nov. 17 says that Gillespie got into some legal wrangling starting in 2004 with convictions for shoplifting.

Then, she was caught lifting stuff from a Giant Eagle in 2007, and then from a Macy’s.

Then there was that soliciting charge in 2008. Ouch. Followed by failure to heed her probation in February 2009. She won a work release but then she violated its terms and was sent back to the slam.

She violated her work release terms, apparently, by getting pregnant.

Then, on January 13, she died in jail, and her mother’s lawsuit claims she died because the jail neglected to offer her even rudimentary care for her bacterial pneumonia.

All of that shit just makes you want to bang your head against a wall. But here’s what kills me.

There was a protest.

Not a barnburner, maybe 20 people, the paper reported. But.

The march was organized by New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice. Joining the effort were the Human Rights Coalition, The Birth Circle, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women and Girls Foundation and the Women’s Law Project.

Where are the “pro-life” groups?

This was a woman who was pregnant and by all reports intended to be a mom. Through its negligence, though, the justice system and the penal system snuffed out the lives of not only this young pregnant woman, but also of the itsy-bitsy-wootsie-wittle baby she was carrying (I wish I could blame this on a corporately-held penal system, but by all research I can track, Allegheny County jails are all government-run).

Why aren’t the “pro-life” groups out in full force protesting this macabre set of events?

Hasn’t the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania essentially conducted an abortion here? Why would anti-abortioners not want to offer their voices regarding this?

Interesting, isn’t it, that when there’s a mother to defend as well as a fetus, these assholes are nowhere to be seen, eh?

I Call Bullshit On This Quote

All I know about Sarah Palin’s book is what I read in the newspaper, where they highlighted this quote which I can’t let pass without comment. What she said is:

“I don’t claim to be a scholar of ancient Greek, but Plato is supposed to have said ,”Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I suspect that if she were anything like a scholar of ancient Greek what she would have said is that Socrates said that, since what Plato wrote was a report of the activities of Socrates, and the man never claimed to have a notion of his own. Kudos to the ghost writer… I cannot believe it was Palin… who added the qualifier “is supposed to have said,” for I am skeptical that the quote is authentic.

I looked high and low and found the alleged “Plato” quote in only one place, at an internet site called “The Quotation Page” where an internet compiler has put together a zillion or so quotations, and which provides a lot of people with “Quotes of the day” and “Motivational Quotes of the Day” and the like. Nice idea and a worthy contribution to the world of information.

Only one problem, the quotes are donated by volunteers and are often not cited. Thus, the system has tremendous potential to be gamed, or at least abused by unscrupulous dunderheads and motivational speakers, a class that comes from a rhetorical tradition that never knew a fact that could not be invented to make a point. This quote is (was, see below) found in a collection of motivational quotations.

For the benefit of Sara Pudding, who is confessed to be no Greek scholar, a person who might invent quotes for the sake of making a point is called a “sophist.” It’s a Greek term which means dunderheads who invent shit to try to prove a point, and it pretty much describes the hypemeisters and bullshit artists that surround politicians great and small.

Sophisticated Greeks didn’t care much for Sophists (Sara, there is a pun in there for your benefit). To prove the point, here is an actual quote from Plato’s Protagoras:

“(Socrates): And how about yourself ? What will Protagoras make of you, if you go to see him ?

(Hippocrates): Unless this differs in some way from the former instances, I suppose that he will make a Sophist of me.

(Socrates): By the gods… and are you not ashamed at having to appear before the Hellenes in the character of a Sophist ?

(Hipprocates): Indeed, Socrates, to confess the truth, I am.”

(BTW: Note to Sara Pudding. If you are going to read Plato’s Protagoras, you might want to skip the introductory dialogue where Socrates is quizzed on the success of his seduction of a young fellow named Alcibiades. We all know how sensitive you are to alternative lifestyles and all.)

It is a danger unique to the internet world that information can more easily be invented, re-written and destroyed than accurately researched and documented. I should note here that I have no proof that the alleged quote is not from Plato… it’s hard as hell to prove a negative. I am also not a scholar, but the quote sounds more like the work of a motivational speaker than the work of Plato. Moreover, in the Dialogues, things are often said as a foil to the philosopher that do not necessarily reflect the views of Socrates/Plato. Thus, even if it’s from Plato, it might have been said by another character in the Dialogues. We don’t know without a citation.

So I call bullshit on this quote until someone shows me the cite.

The most important point here is that, in an age when a President can drum up support for an illegal war by lying to the world and never be called to account for it, we should all be skeptical of bullshit we are fed that is not verifiable through direct attribution or cannot otherwise be independently confirmed.

One final note. I sent an email to The Quotation Page stating my skepticism about the quote, and asking for a citation. I did not get a response. However, while you can still find the quote by Google to the original location, it no longer comes up on a search of the site.

A Slip Of The Tang

Here at the imaginary think-tank the Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology, the latest story regarding Prudence Palin somewhat reminds us of yet another presidential gaffe made some 30 years ago:

MAX FRANKEL, New York Times: Mr. President, I’d like to explore a little more deeply our relationship with the Russians… Our allies in France and Italy are now flirting with Communism. We’ve recognized the permanent Communist regime in East Germany. We’ve virtually signed, in Helsinki, an agreement that the Russians have dominance in Eastern Europe…

PRESIDENT FORD: I’m glad you raised it, Mr. Frankel. In the case of Helsinki, 35 nations signed an agreement, including the secretary of state for the Vatican – I can’t under any circumstances believe that the – His Holiness, the Pope would agree by signing that agreement that the thirty-five nations have turned over to the Warsaw Pact nations the domination of the – Eastern Europe. It just isn’t true… There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.

MR. FRANKEL: I’m sorry, I – could I just follow – did I understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe as their own sphere of influence in occupying most of the countries there and making sure with their troops that it’s a Communist zone?

PRESIDENT FORD: I don’t believe, – Mr. Frankel that – the Yugoslavians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don’t believe that the Rumanians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don’t believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union.

Now, for those readers who lack the historical context to grok this, we should explain that Ford’s statement was not just factually incorrect. It was downright bizarre. Americans had watched the Soviet Union dominate Eastern Europe for a decade—500,000 troops worth in Czechoslovakia in 1968, in fact.

Ford has since explained his statement like this:

There is no question I did not adequately explain what I was thinking. I felt very strongly that regardless of the number of Soviet armored divisions in Poland, the Russians would never dominate the Polish spirit. That’s what I should have said. I simply left out the fact that, at that time in 1976, the Russians had about 10 to 15 divisions in Poland.

At the time, though, this singular response was so utterly bizarre and seemed to reflect such an unfamiliarity with global politics on the incumbent’s part that it deflated Ford’s surge in the polls, and Jimmy Carter was elected the 39th President of the United States.

Prudence Palin characterizes her statement that said that we’ve “gotta stand by our North Korean allies” as a slip of the tongue, and, of course, she blames the media. I’m not buying it, of course.

I’m not buying it because it’s already well-documented that A) Prudence Palin is, generally, an ignoramus. B) That, during the 2008 campaign, she had to be taught simple facts regarding history. And that, C) One of the facts she had trouble keeping straight was regarding North and South Korea.

I’m not being an elitist snob here folks. Knowing the difference between the Koreas and which one is the godless commie one that starves its own people so they can have an army and which one we still invest 28,500 troops defending, to me, that’s the price of admission, not just for being the Preznit, but for being a decent American. When “our North Korean allies” rolls off of your tongue, you admit that this bit of data about the world has not yet been imprinted into your brain DNA like your times tables and your Grandma’s home phone number. Once again, for the umpteenth time, Prudence Palin has copped to being a drooling idiot.

And yet, and yet, she may still very well become President of the United States.

Holy cow has this country gone to crap.

The Pope is Going All Liberal On Us!

The funniest thing about the Pope’s recent condom comments is the apparent effort to spin this as some kind of liberalization of Church doctrine. The headline in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (where 80 percent of all people who say they go to church are Catholic) is “Pope’s condom comment is seen as modern move.”

The Pope has sure gotten modern, alright. What he said is:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

OK, so a priest who has given up trying to bone the head usher and decides try to Rent A Boy can morally demand that his young friend use a rubber. However, a woman who knows her husband has AIDS may not morally demand the same protection. In the case of a woman, it’s either God’s will that you have a healthy child by riding bareback with some AIDS infested junkie, or God’s will that you die of AIDS. Morality never justifies human intervention that would prevent the spread of the plague.

That Pope. Mighty liberal of him. In the meantime, we are being distracted from what should be the real Pope news of the last week or so.

First, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops passed over the heir apparent to the top job, Arizona Bishop Gerard Kicanas, and elected New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Kicanas was too liberal. Dolan is a hard liner who believes life begins at ejaculation and wants to overturn Griswald v. Connecticut as well as Roe v. Wade. Dolan has also been influential in focusing Catholic money in the many campaigns against equal rights for GLBT Americans. It was the NCCB that pushed for and nearly got the Stupidpac Amendment that attempted to make it illegal to sell insurance for abortions. Needless to say, under the influence of Dolan, we will see more of the same.

Second, the Pope made 24 Cardinals last week, including Americans Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., and Raymond Burke, who now heads the Vatican Supreme Court. Wuerl is apparently a liberal cipher, but Burke is the Pope’s Himmler. He has called Barack Obama an “Agent of Death” for his principled stand on freedom of choice, and is well remembered as the St. Louis bishop who endorsed George W. Busch when he refused Communion to John Kerry in 2004.

These events make it clear that, if anything, the Pope is taking steps to firm up the position of hard liners in the church to continue to oppose basic human rights long after the Pope has gone to his “reward.” (“Hey Jesus how come we don’t get no 72 virgins?”) With six Catholics on the Supreme Court of the United States, we should all be more than a little concerned about what these people think about our most basic freedoms.

Bring On The Fight For NPR

Back in 1994 a friend of mine who worked at the Heritage Foundation bragged that the new Congress of Newt Gingrich was going to de-fund NPR, the National Endowment for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Humanities. I bet him a beer that they would never do it, and he has yet to pay up.

Now the Pee Party boys are about to take over and they are promising to de-fund NPR. Good luck with that. Let me note here that I have been and continue to be critical of NPR, which plays a lot of inside baseball with the beltway set. Their reporting is often sloppy and they fawn over and pander to the politically connected and powerful. (Their joyful participation in the canonization of Raygun is still a sore point.) None the less, I think they have an important role to play and would not support defunding.

Not that I have to worry about it. Rarely does Congress de-fund an entire program. Once something gets stuck in the budget, it stays in one form or another. More Important, NPR has a very large following across the board, particularly in the League of Women Voters … ”informed, independent thinker” set. I suspect these folks are already geared up for a fight on this issue, and will have no problem handing the Pee Party its first Congressional disappointment.

What I love about this is it is nearly a wedge issue for some folks. Assault on NPR could also serve as a wake-up call to the alleged independent thinkers, many of whom voted for morons in the last Congressional election, or stayed home.

Roger Ailes is a Nazi

I hate stating the obvious, but sometimes it is needed just for the record. Recently Roger Ales, the top dog at Fixxed News, called the top guys at NPR a bunch of Nazis. To be more precise, he said:

“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

There are a number of ways to measure what a Nazi is. Volent, racist, bigoted, controlling and intolerant of the views of others, sort of sums it up. So here is what is curious about what he said about NPR. If you cut out the stuff about left wing and public funding, he is describing himself. There is no one, certainly no “news” organization, that spends more time trying to stamp out opposing views then Fixxed News.

I’m just saying.

KIAV Style Note

As our seven readers know well, we love to misspell the names of the many fools we write about here at KIAV. Part of the fun is mangling monikers like John Boner and Newty Gringo and my newest favorite, Liza Merdcowski. It has occurred to me, however, that not correctly spelling names may result in the targets of our distain never knowing just what we think of them. Publicists and policy wonks daily post Google searches to find out what people are writing about them. Newty Gringo and Liza Merdcowski are not going to come up in a Google search. Thus, a new rule:  we will always spell names correctly on first reference. John Boner should know exactly what we think of him.

Just a Little Bailout History

I am still not convinced that all would not be well if we had allowed GM to go into Chapter 11, but I am not unhappy that the IPO went off well and GM is back on its feet. It is, after all, a million jobs saved, and we are likely to get a lot of our $50 billion back.

One big annoyance with the news coverage of yesterday’s events is the continued repetition, without challenge, of the statement that “this could set a precident” for future bailouts. What do you call the 1980 Chrysler Bailout? Does anyone remember Lee Iaccoca? I think they have stopped teaching history, but are there no editors left in the news business who are old enough to remember anything that happened before the Clinton Administration?

Or maybe the current crop of  journalists does not know what the word precident means. Maybe they think it just means a bad thing, which is basically all the GOOPers ever say anyway, as in: “ITS BAD, VERY BAD AND I DON’T LIKE IT BECAUSE IT’S BAD. DON’T ASK ME HOW IT’S BAD BUT IT MUST BE BAD BECAUSE OBAMA WANTS IT.”

In any case, just for the record, the first bailout of a major corporation by the federal government (that I have found) was in 1970 when the Noxin Administration bailed out Penn Central Railroad with a $3.2 billion loan guarantee. (This is why we have Amtrak today.) In 1971, we bailed out the defense industry’s biggest player, Lockheed Corp. In 1974, we bailed out Franklin National Bank, the first in a long line of bank bailouts. Does anyone remember the Savings and Loan Industry? Did we bail them out or what?

(BTW a tip for journalists.  There is this thingy called Google, and if you use it you can get a lot of information fast.  For a complete look at US Government bailouts, go to ProPublica.)

Bailing out mainstream USA companies is today as normal as apple pie. It’s what we do when we need to keep the economy rolling along, to save jobs and keep high paid executives in perks. The GOOP claims today that this is not so because it is useful to their bullshit narrative. When this Tea Party crap blows over, and the tanning industry looks to be on the brink, John Boner will be there to help.