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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.


Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling


The Commentariat -- October 11

A Heartwarmer. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. Mr. Biden visits his Scranton home.

Robert Kuttner, writing in the Huffington Post, makes a few minor factual errors in his post (e.g., it wasn't a pocket veto), but his overall point is worth considering (or hoping for!): "By pocket-vetoing the bill that sailed through Congress to expedite mortgage foreclosures, President Obama may have begun a chain reaction that will blow up Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's confidence game with the banks."

Paul Krugman: "... if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried." ...

... This New York Times page breaks down where the stimulus money went.

... Krugman has a brief post on the Economics Nobel recipients; his take is the same as mine: "And yes, this is the same Peter Diamond whose nomination to the Fed board has been held up because of Republican doubts about his qualifications." Krugman links to his August 6 post:

Senate Republicans holding up Peter Diamond’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board on the grounds that he may not be qualified to make monetary policy. Aside from the fact that the same Senators cheerfully confirmed Bush nominees who didn’t know much about economics of any kind, this is especially stupid right now. ...

Sen. Richard Shelby.I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job. -- Sen. Richard Shelby, on Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond, who was Ben Bernanke's econ professor. Shelby returned Diamond's "unacceptable" nomination to the White House ...

       ... CW: there are times when Republican hypocrisy is so ripe, they can smell it in Norway. ...

... Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "Companies still aren't finding it easy to fill job vacancies," partly because traditional jobs have morphed into ones that require broader experience. "The total number of job openings does remain historically low: 3.2 million, down from 4.4 million before the recession. But the number of openings has surged 37 percent in the past year. And yet the unemployment rate has actually risen during that time."

Washington Post Editorial Board: the U.S. tax code provides for spending $200 billion a year on social programs for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans. "The code is salted with 'tax expenditures' -- programs, many worthy, designed to promote policies from homeownership to education to retirement savings" The code "lacks transparency and accountability" and "tends to award the most help to those who need it least."

CW: ever wonder why Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson took that low-paying government job as Dubya's Treasury Secretary? Think it was to nobly serve his country? Gary Gordon of McClatchy News: while Goldman CEO, "Paulson had presided over the firm's plunge into the business of buying up subprime mortgages ... and then repackaging them into securities.... During Paulson's first 15 months as the treasury secretary..., Goldman unloaded more than $30 billion in dicey residential mortgage securities ... and became the only major Wall Street firm to dramatically cut its losses and exit the housing market safely. Goldman also racked up billions of dollars in profits by secretly betting on a downturn in home mortgage securities." Experts say it's obvious Paulson's inaction at Treasury was designed to maximize Goldman profits despite the disastrous consequences for the markets & the American economy. CW: and Paulson will never suffer any consequences. gets hold of a prospectus for RepubliCorpTM. Interactive:

The Cabal of Multinational Corporations is pleased to formally announce RepubliCorpTM, a new combined entity following our complete merger with the Republican Party.

RepubliCorpTM combines the ethics-free campaigning savvy of the GOP with the limit-free spending power of Corporate AmericaTM. This merger is precisely timed: With the recent Citizens United ruling finally placing the United States Government on the open market, RepubliCorpTM is now perfectly positioned to lead our hostile takeover bid, currently scheduled for completion on November 2nd 2010.

Howard Kurtz & Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape. What has emerged is a form of narrowcasting, allowing candidates a welcoming platform that helps them avoid hostile press questioning and, in some cases, minimize the slog and the slip-ups of retail campaigning."

I have 11-year-old twin boys, and this campaign has allowed us to accelerate awkward conversations. -- Delaware Democratic Senate nominee Chris Coons, when asked about his opponent's denunciation of masturbation ...

... Frank Bruni of the New York Times profiles Chris Coons, Delaware's Democratic nominee for Senate. CW: finally, someone in the MSM decides to mention the candidate who is actually qualified to serve.

Of "Speedos & Grinding." Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino defends remarks he made yesterday about gays, says he's not a bigot. CW: you decide. Update: here's a clip:

"Fraud Files" introduces you to Florida's Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. Sadly, this is an accurate portrait & the scary music is apt:

West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, who is running for the Senate, answers his opponent's "hicky" ad:

Jane Lorber of the New York Times: "Brave New Films, the documentary film company behind a series of damaging anti-McCain viral videos during the 2008 presidential campaign, has put its sights on Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California. In the latest of three videos attacking Ms. Fiorina..., several former Hewlett-Packard employees who were laid off during Ms. Fiorina’s tenure as chief executive ... describe her as ruthless and extravagant." (See the earlier videos at the link.):

Stolen Valor. Dan Elliott of the AP: "The Justice Department is battling to save a federal law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero, appealing two court rulings that the statute is an unconstitutional muzzle on free speech.... The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal, whether or not an impostor seeks financial gain."

Russell Gold of the Wall Street Journal: "Surprise inspections of deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico dwindled to about three a year over the past decade, even as exploratory drilling far from shore increased.... And since 2004 federal authorities haven't made a single surprise inspection on any of the 50 or so deepwater natural gas and oil production platforms in the Gulf, despite a law requiring periodic unannounced inspections."

If It's Broke, Don't Fix It. Change Its Name. "... the Minerals Management Service was recently renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Nice work, Ken Salazar!

John Hamilton of Media Matters on how right-wing talkshow pundits like Glenn Beck & Michael Savage inspire acts of violence against progressives & authorities, including the President. ...

... If you missed it, also see Dana Milbank's column on Beck's violence-inspiring rhetoric, which I linked Saturday. Milbank briefly covers the same ground Hamilton does.

Reuters picture via the Daily Mail.I know it must be true because I read it in the Daily Mail: at the rally in Philadelphia yesterday, someone threw a book at President Obama. In an unrelated incident, police removed a naked man from the crowd. The article has photos of both. CW: I'm sparing you the photos of the naked man, who needs to start working out.

     Update: according to The Weekly Standard the man who streaked the rally was named Juan James Rodriguez, & billionaire Alki David promised him $1 million for the stunt. Forget the starving children of the world. This is a great way to spend your money, Mr. David.

You can see the flying book near the end of this video clip:

     ... Update: "Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Politico that the book lobbing incident was not a threat, but friendly fire. 'The book was thrown by an over-exuberant person,' he said. 'It wasn’t a threatening thing, the person wanted to give the president the book.'"

At long last, C-SPAN has made video of the rally available. President Obama begins speaking about 10 minutes in:


The Commentariat -- 10-10-10

In a debate on Fox "News" this morning, when challenged by Democrat Debbie, Wasserman-Schultz, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor "repudiated" Republican House candidate Rich Iott for his participation in a Nazi SS re-enactment organization. Here's the video:

Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "In an interview this week, a senior administration official confirmed that the White House and Treasury Department had received warnings that the mortgage industry employed inexperienced staffers to oversee foreclosures, had problems handling documents and communicating with borrowers, and often failed to comply with regulations.... The only immediate response to warnings was a letter to servicers urging them to behave better. But in June, the administration enacted a policy requiring that servicers try to modify a loan before beginning the foreclosure process." CW: does HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan ever do anything?

Power to the Luddites! Frank Rich doesn't think the Internet has had much of a positive effect on politics: "Nowhere, perhaps, is the gap between the romance and the reality of the Internet more evident than in our politics." Rich concurs with Malcolm Gladwell that "social media increase the efficiency of the existing order rather than empowering dissidents." As a bit of anecdotal evidence, Rich cites the case of South Carolina's Alvin Greene, who got more than three times the number of primary votes as did Delaware's Christine O'Donnell. And Greene doesn't even own a computer! ...

... Maureen Dowd compares elements of David Fincher-Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network" to Richard Wagner's "Das Rheingold." Dowd concludes, "the passions that drive humans stay remarkably constant, whether it’s a magic ring being forged or a magic code being written." ...

... CW: since both Rich & Dowd comment on "The Social Network," let's let Zuck speak for himself:

In a Washington Post op-ed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner defends the TARP by "tackling five myths" about it.

Making New York City a World Class City:

... BUT Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times writes that the rollout today of a couple of new, speedier bus routes was a bit of a bumpy ride; passengers couldn't figure out the new rules.

New York Times graphic.The Car that Drives Itself. John Markoff of the New York Times: Google "has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.... Seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light." Look Ma, No Hands:

Faiz Shakir of Thing Progress: "After consulting with the Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles today largely dismissing concerns about the Chamber’s foreign sources of funding as a means to raise money to air political attack ads." Both reports concentrated on "AmChams," but "'AmChams' are only a small piece of the puzzle. Most of the Chamber’s foreign sources of funds come from large multi-national corporations which are headquartered abroad, like BP and Siemens. Direct contributions from foreign firms also are accepted under the auspices of the Chamber’s 'Business Councils' located in various foreign countries." With graph.

In a humorous post, Alex Pareene of Salon discovers where Bob Woodward got the crazy idea the White House was contemplating a Biden-Clinton job exchange in 2012. "'It's on the table,' Woodward said. Wow! Except, as the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder succinctly tweeted: 'No, it's not.' CW: I won't give away the answer." Here's Ambinder's as-written-by-Woodward post.

... Some people are just born to be slaves.... It's just probably a matter of intelligent design. -- Rush Limbaugh

And God Created Slaves. Media Matters catches Rush explaining human nature:

We conservatives believe government is bad and we’ve got the candidates to prove it. -- P.J. O’Rourke

Stupid Candidate Tricks. Jeff Simon of CNN: "Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle told a crowd of Tea Party rally-goers last week that two cities — Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas — are under Sharia law, the sacred law of Islam.... Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly told the Associated Press that Angle’s comments were 'shameful' and 'totally irresponsible.'" Another problem? "Well, Frankford, Texas doesn’t really exist."

John Schwartz of the New York Times: "Sunday is the big day for saying 'I do.' More than 39,000 couples chose 10/10/10 as their wedding day — a nearly tenfold increase over the number of nuptials on Oct. 11, 2009, the comparable Sunday last year...."


The Commentariat -- October 9

Dana Milbank: "why [Glenn] Beck is dangerous: because his is the one voice in the mass media that validates conspiracy theories held by the unstable.... It's not that Beck is directly advocating violence but he's giving voice and legitimacy to the violent fringe." ....

Rich Iott, third from left, in a Nazi SS uniform. Iott in the Republican nominee for Congress in Ohio's 9th District.... GOP Congressional Nominee: I'm Not a Real Nazi, but I Play One on Weekends. Joshua Green of The Atlantic: "Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite..., for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments. Iott, whose district lies in Northwest Ohio, was involved with a group that calls itself Wiking, whose members are devoted to re-enacting the exploits of an actual Nazi division, the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, which fought mainly on the Eastern Front during World War II. Iott's participation in the Wiking group is not mentioned on his campaign's website, and his name and photographs were removed from the Wiking website.... Historians of Nazi Germany vehemently dispute" the Iott organization's "sanitized, romantisized view" of the SS Wikings . Historian Charles W.Sydnor, Jr. says, "re-enactments like the Wiking group's are illegal in Germany and Austria." Iott said he joined the Wikings "as a father-son bonding thing." ...

... CW: this is jaw-dropping & stomach-turning. Will the GOP demand Iott withdraw his candidacy? Minority Leader John Boehner is an Ohio Congressman. He had to know about this guy. Here's a recruitment video Iott's SS re-enactment group produced that is beyond shocking:

... Steve Benin: despite "a disclaimer noting that they 'do not embrace the philosophies and actions' of the Nazis..., Iott's little troupe also said it exists in part to 'salute' the 'idealists' and 'front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS' and their 'basic desire to be free.' It also characterizes Wiking volunteers as 'valiant men...." Benin notes that Iott is a Republican "party favorite," not a fringe candidate. ...

     ... Update. Young Mausers. Stephen Webster of the Raw Story: "Iott was a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee's so-called 'Young Guns' program, but a GOP-owned domain dedicated to America's 'future leaders' appears to have scrubbed his name from a list of 'contenders'. ...

... It sends a chilling message to all Americans, especially to veterans and to those of the Jewish faith that John Boehner and the Republican leadership in Washington would actively seek out candidates like this and embrace them. -- Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

     ... ** Update: Mediaite has video of Joshua Green telling the Rich Iott story on Bill Maher's "Real Time."

Peter Yost of the AP: "Before President Barack Obama picked him to be his next national security adviser, Tom Donilon was a lobbyist for mortgage giant Fannie Mae and fought off congressional attempts to impose new regulations. As Fannie Mae's legal counsel and top strategic thinker in the late 1990s to the middle of this decade, Donilon left his sizable imprint on the company long before its takeover by the government amid the wreckage of the housing market." ...

... Josh Gerstein & Abby Phillip of Politico have more on Donilon's tenure at Fannie Mae. Yost implies Donilon left before Fannie Mae got in big trouble; Gerstein & Phillip give you a picture of how close Donilon was to Fannie Mae's problems -- one of their sources calls Donilon "an enabler." They also note that he doesn't have much foreign policy experience. ...

... BUT Fred Kaplan of Slate writes that "Donilon has been de facto national security adviser for many months now, while [former advisor Jim] Jones has been, to a startling degree, a West Wing wallflower."

Peter Bacon of the Washington Post: "... in what could be a preview of Washington in 2011, two men are engaged in an almost daily debate about the [Republican Pledge to America] and what it means: President Obama and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).... Many Republican candidates haven't even read" it.

Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "The long-simmering feud between Democrats and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has erupted into a full-scale war. The chamber, one of Washington's most influential lobbying groups, emerged from the background of the midterm elections this week, spending millions of dollars on ads to help Republicans and fending off Democratic allegations that the effort may include money collected from foreign firms." You can play through some of the Chamber's anti-Democratic ads here.

Urban Planning. The United States of the twenty-first century should start to look more like an archipelago of cities in a sea of open landscapes. -- Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior

CW: Thursday I questioned the legality of the President's pocket veto of a bill that would facilitate foreclosures since the Senate was technically in session & the House had "agents" in place to "receive messages." Later, other bloggers raised the same issue. The President (or his legal staff) got the message:

To leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed, in addition to withholding my signature, I am returning H.R. 3808 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this Memorandum of Disapproval. -- Barack Obama

Good political commentary from Bill Maher during an appearance on CNN:

Paul Krugman recommends Mike Konczal's post on foreclosure fraud. With charts!

We have all the junk in the world.... I mean, you can gain 15 pounds in a hurry. -- a Bloomberg employee ...

... Fun Hypocrite of the Day (it's early -- there may be more). Anemona Hartcollis of the New York Times reports that "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to prohibit poor New Yorkers from using food stamps to buy sugary sodas like the ones that are available free to his business’s employees.... He is known for negotiating voluntary reductions in salt by food companies, and putting salt on his own saltine crackers; for fighting rising obesity among his constituents, and for serving comfort food like grilled hot dogs and ice cream sundaes at his town house."

When I speak to God, it is called prayer. When God speaks to me, it is called paranoia. Mental illness is not absent when it is covered with religious words. -- Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong on Christine O'Donnell's assertion that it was "God's plan" for her to campaign & win the Delaware Senate seat

Commentary from RepublicanLand:

Paul Craig Roberts, a Reagan Treasury appointee & a former Wall Street Journal editor, on "America's Third World Economy" & yesterday's jobs report:

Part of [last month's] loss of 159,000 government jobs was offset by 64,000 new private sector jobs. Where are the new jobs? They are in nontradable lowly paid domestic services: 32,000 were in health care and social services, and 33,900 were in food services and drinking places. There you have it. That is America’s 'New Economy.'

Jack Goldsmith, who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, withdrew the infamous Torture Memoes (& shortly thereafter resigned), writes an op-ed in the New York Times arguing for military detention of terrorists instead of trials. CW: I'm not saying I agree with Goldsmith, but his POV is worthy of a hearing.

Former First Lady Laura Bush writes an op-ed in the Washington Post urging that peace negotiators in Afghanistan embrace women's rights: "Offenses against women erode security for all Afghans -- men and women. And a culture that tolerates injustice against one group of its people ultimately fails to respect and value all its citizens."