Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Three words in response to this latest “New Rules” segment from Bill Maher – Nail. Hammer. Head. (and I don’t mean only about “Goodhair” Perry)…

…and in case I don’t post tomorrow, best wishes for a happy Father’s Day.

Update: RIP Big Man.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Stuff

And once more (in a related item), I think this bears repeating.

If it weren’t for the fact that former Repug House Rep Chris Lee of New York stepped down in the wake of his shirtless little number on craigslist advertising for a date (a bit of a problem with him being married and all), I would also have encouraged Weiner to ride it out, though I’ll admit that the whole Vitter thing (as I and others have definitely noted) is enough of a precedent for Weiner to stay put too, which he won’t do now of course. Weiner should pay a price for his stupidity, but I’m not sure that resignation is it.

However, this clip from Rachel Maddow (and Cenk Uygur at the end) should be watched because it dissects perfectly the means in which the GOP plays the media to its advantage, almost always with the cowering acquiescence of spineless Democrats (and the media rabble including Breitbart of course and his minions along with the single-digit-IQed Howard Stern refugee…I once defended Stern at this site, but I’m done with that, particularly after that recent, pitiable Rolling Stone interview…”ooh, I’m so insecure but I’ve got so much money while I make jokes about women’s bodily functions…”).

I get what Rachel is saying here. However, the media and the Repugs know what works for the political DNA of this country, which is gratuitous titillation at the expense of reasoned, informed dialogue. And one day, when our society is dust and whatever comes after us writes our epitaph, that will be listed as the official cause of death (yep, living up to the name of this blog again, I know – by the way, that line from Pat Buchanan that Cenk tells us about should be tattooed on a body part of every Democratic member of Congress, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to do that to our POTUS and veep too)…

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Note: If you get tired of waiting for the video to load, try this instead.

…and on a much lighter note, the young one (who I alluded to earlier) has been singing this song all day, for obvious reasons.

Friday Mashup (6/17/11)

(I’ll try this blogging thing one more time; I know it has been a sporadic posting month, but there’s really not a lot I can do about that. Maybe at some point I’ll get into the gory details, but not now.)

(And by the way, here and here are items from last night that bear repeating.)

  • To begin, I give you the latest from Orange Man (here)…
    Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are ripping the Obama administration's economic policies on the one-year anniversary of the "Recovery Summer."

    "One year later, Obama's recovery remains a failure while economists are delivering a grim prognosis for the future," an email from the RNC reads. "Now the economy is threatened by a double dip as small businesses, manufacturing and the housing market run out of steam."
    I will admit that the whole “Recovery Summer” thing showed at least a partial tone-deafness (probably more) to the general plight of our economy by the Obama Administration (it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs or don’t freaking bother, President Hopey Changey, and yes, it’s not his fault that businesses aren’t hiring, but he needs to do a hell of a lot better job with the “Bully pulpit” on this than he has to date).

    However, it is way beyond a joke for “so be it” Boehner and his playmates to poke fun at our chief executive while the Repug House “leadership” continues to play games with the debt ceiling; as noted here…
    In the United States, the political problems include a fight over raising the legal ceiling on the nation's debt. A first-ever U.S. default would roil markets, and Fitch Ratings said even a "technical" default would jeopardize the country's AAA rating.
    And as noted here…
    "I fully understand the desire to use the debt limit deadline to force some necessary and difficult fiscal policy adjustments, but the debt limit is the wrong tool for that important job," (Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke) said at the annual conference for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in D.C. on Tuesday.

    Republicans have recently tried to tie a debt ceiling increase to spending cuts, as well as completely unrelated proposals.

    But if the debt ceiling is not raised, Bernanke said, the United States would be forced to stop payments on some of its existing obligations, possibly including Social Security and military pay.

    The creditworthiness of the United States would be called into question and the financial markets could be severely disrupted, Bernanke said.

    "Failing to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way would be self-defeating if the objective is to chart a course toward a better fiscal situation for our nation," he said.
    Oh, and by the way, another way to close the deficit is to raise revenue of course, since, as Think Progress tells us here about the latest nonsense from Moon Unit Bachmann, the top earners in this country now pay the lowest amount of taxes they’ve paid in a generation (and raising taxes on the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch polls at about 72 percent in favor, as HuffPo tells us here).

    Even though, as I noted earlier, I’m definitely not satisfied with the Obama Administration on this issue, at least they represent a sure hand that has steered the metaphorical car of our economy back safely onto the highway. However, if Boehner and pals had their way, we would be aimed straight at the cliff all over again.

  • Next, it turns out that today is the 40th anniversary of the “War on Drugs,” as former President Jimmy Carter reminds us here in a New York Times Op-Ed …
    In an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

    The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

    These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

    These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.
    As noted here, probably the main reason our government has supported this entire stupid “war on drugs” game is because too many people make too much money in the bargain (to say nothing of the for-profit prison biz which incarcerates a larger proportion of this country’s population than any other industrialized nation).

    Just chalk this up to yet another moment of our 39th president’s prescience in the face of all manner of right-wing bloviation that ridiculed him and, with the passage of time, has been proven to be utterly wrong once more.

  • Continuing, this tells us that The Supremes issued the following ruling about what should be common sense legal matter…
    The case involved a 13-year-old middle school student in Chapel Hill, N.C. The student, identified only by his initials in the court’s decision, confessed to two home break-ins after he was removed from class and questioned for more than half an hour in a school conference room by police officers and school administrators.

    People in police custody must be given the familiar warnings based on Miranda v. Arizona before questioning if their answers are to be used against them in court. The question in Thursday’s case, J.D.B. v. North Carolina, No. 09-11121, was how to determine if the student was indeed in custody.

    Judges generally make that determination by asking whether a “reasonable person” in the circumstances would have felt free to leave. The North Carolina Supreme Court, refusing to suppress the student’s confession, ruled that consideration of a juvenile suspect’s age did not figure in that reasonable-person analysis.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said that a 13-year-old would surely feel less free to leave a school conference room “than, say, a parent volunteer on school grounds to chaperone an event, or an adult from the community on school grounds to attend a basketball game.”

    “In short,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “officers and judges need no imaginative powers, knowledge of developmental psychology, training in cognitive science, or expertise in social and cultural anthropology to account for a child’s age. They simply need the common sense to know that a 7-year-old is not a 13-year-old and neither is an adult.
    Cue the obligatory right-wing umbrage…
    “Personal characteristics of suspects have consistently been rejected or ignored as irrelevant under a one-size-fits-all reasonable-person standard,” Justice Alito wrote, adding, “There is no denying that, by incorporating age into its analysis, the court is embarking on a new expansion of the established custody standard.”

    Justice Alito wrote that the majority had failed to explain how age is different from other personal characteristics that are ignored under the usual analysis, like intelligence and education. “Bit by bit,” he wrote of the majority’s approach, “Miranda will lose the clarity and ease of application that has long been viewed as one of its chief justifications.”

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined the dissent.
    It’s really hilarious to me to read “Scalito,” Hangin’ Judge JR and Silent Clarence portraying themselves as supposed defenders of Miranda when you consider the following from here; namely, that the Court ruled twice prior to last year and three times in 2010 that evidence obtained without Miranda warnings was admissible in court (including the same four justices noted earlier in this paragraph, along with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist).

    The Times also ran this editorial today on the matter (and just remember that, under – God help us – a McCain/Palin administration, a Repug justice would have ruled that the non-Mirandized admission from the child suspect would have been admissible, and the ruling surely would have gone 5-4 the other way).

    And while we’re on the subject, let us never forget the “free speech” atrocity brought to you by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR, as noted here.

  • Further, I give you the following Area Votes in Congress from The Philadelphia Inquirer (here – the House, mercifully, was not in session to do any further damage)…

    Debit-card fees. Voting 54-45, the Senate failed to garner 60 votes needed to shelve new rules that will sharply reduce the fees that large banks charge retailers for debit-card sales. Under Federal Reserve regulations soon to take effect, these "swipe fees" are to be sharply lowered from their present range of 1 to 3 percent of the transaction cost. Authorized by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law, the rules are likely to cap fees at 12 cents or so per transaction.

    Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and other large banks collected an estimated $20 billion last year in debit-card fees. The new limits on swipe fees will exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets. This vote occurred during consideration of an Economic Development Administration reauthorization (S 782) that remained in debate.

    A yes vote was to delay the new rules.

    Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).

    Voting no: Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
    Carper isn’t called “the Senator from (formerly) MBNA” for nothing (along with a certain now-Vice President who also voted for that fraud bankruptcy bill…and Chris Coons sure learns fast, doesn’t he?).

    And as usual, “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey never met a government regulation he didn’t oppose.
    Curbs on regulations. The Senate shelved legislation to impose sweeping curbs on federal regulations that affect small businesses. The tally of 53-46 fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the amendment to S 782 (above). In part, the measure would require agencies to cancel regulations that they have failed to review every 10 years; establish pro-business advisory panels at all agencies for reviewing new regulations; give small businesses expanded power to challenge regulations in court, and require agencies to take into account the indirect as well as direct economic costs of proposed regulations on small businesses.

    A yes vote was to curb the regulation of small businesses.

    Voting yes: Toomey.

    Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
    What’s interesting to me about this is that this amendment was proposed by President Snowe, but it failed to meet the “60 votes needed for passage” threshold usually reserved for Democratic legislation in the Senate (with anything under 60 triggering an automatic Repug filibuster).

    Gee, is it possible that the Dems have FINALLY learned this trick and are repaying in kind with filibusters of their own? Dare I dream?
    Solicitor General Verrilli. Voting 72-16, the Senate confirmed Donald B. Verrilli Jr. as the 47th solicitor general of the United States, a position that entails representing the executive branch before the Supreme Court. Verrilli, 54, has served in the Obama administration as deputy counsel to the president and deputy attorney general and before that was a litigator in private practice.

    A yes vote was to confirm Verrilli.

    Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Toomey.
    This week, the Senate resumed debate on a bill funding the Economic Development Administration, with votes possible on ending tax breaks for ethanol and repealing last year's Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law. The House schedule was to be announced.

  • Finally, it seems that children’s book author Eric Metaxas is taking issue with a parody of his children’s book ”It’s Time To Sleep, My Love” (awwww) with what appears to be a hilarious parody called “Go The F*** To Sleep!,” as noted here (and apparently, the download of Samuel L. Jackson reading it is pretty popular…Rachel Maddow recently had a spot about this that I kind of glossed over, but I’ll go back and check it out...Metaxas seems to argue in part that the parody might lead to violence against children - give me a break!).

    Yes, this topic definitely hits me where I live, as it would for any parent who gets to the point where you will do anything a sane person would do (and probably some things a not-so-sane one would be tempted to do as well) to get your son or daughter to quit talking about all that stuff they’re saving up until the end of the day to delay the inevitable and tell them, at long last, that, though I indeed love you, you’d better button it so I can sit my raggedy butt down and watch Adult Swim while you journey to the Land of Nod or else you can forget about an allowance for roughly the entire decade (and don’t get me started on that damn X-Box either).

    It’s really funny to me how conservatives whine at the drop of a hat about “political correctness,” but never seem to have a clue as to when they’re practicing it themselves (which I think Metaxas does a bit also here).

    Well, with that in mind, this goes out to Metaxas (if “It’s Time For Sleep, My Love” works here, let me know, OK?).

  • Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    (Looks like it’s just going to be videos for a little while – oh well)…

    As Atrios sez, more like this – a lot more…

    …and it looks like the Repugs have come up with a new way to try and stifle dissent, as noted here (just imagine how much they would be caterwauling if the Dems did something like this)…

    …also, a belated happy 70th birthday to Lamont Dozier, who has built a fine career both as a solo performer and as a member of a truly legendary songwriting tandem along with Eddie and Brian Holland; here is one of the team’s signature accomplishments from “back in the day”…

    …and a belated happy 60th birthday to Steve Walsh of Kansas.

    Update 1: This is off-topic from the other stuff here, but I thought it definitely needed to be mentioned...I should probably have said this myself by now, but kudos to Laurence Lewis for doing it instead.

    Update 2: This is also off-topic, but likewise needs to be pointed out.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Wednesday AM Stuff

    What indeed - h/t Daily Kos...

    ...maybe this is a tune about the year they think they're living in.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    So Tim Profitt gets probation for stomping Lauren Valle on the curb last year (here) – what a joke…

    …and yes, there are some in Congress who actually do care about jobs…

    …and this bears repeating over and over and over…

    …and yeah, I have to admit that I like this tune, even if it’s going to be featured in another one of those awful movies.

    Tuesday Mashup (6/14/11)

  • I have one word in response to this storyduuuhhh!!!

  • And this is what passes for editorial commentary on the Fix Noise web site, from the network that brought us such ingloriously chauvinistic moments as those noted here.

    Oh, but don’t worry – there’s ample umbrage aimed at probably-soon-to-be-ex-Dem-House-Rep Anthony Weiner for his online stuff (Hey, Fox, I’ve got the proverbial “first stone” for you…and I’m pretty much on the fence with the Weiner thing anymore, considering as how fellow Repug Rep Chris Lee did the honorable thing and stepped down, even though David Vitter continues to take up space in the Senate…still can’t believe that a fighting Dem like Weiner is going down in flames over something he should have been smart enough to avoid).

    (Oh, and by the way, concerning Fox, this is a great story on the demonic Roger Ailes in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.)

    Before we leave the subject of the embattled New York congressman, I wanted to note this item in The Daily Tucker saying, more or less, that Weiner’s road to redemption is similar to the one followed by John Profumo, the former Secretary of State for War in the government of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in the 1960s…
    A few days after the affair, (Profumo) showed up at the door of Toynbee Hall, a charitable mission in London’s east end, and asked if they might need any help. They assigned him to wash dishes and help with a children’s play group, which he did quite ably — for the next 40 years. He never again did anything in politics, commented in the press, or tearfully apologized on a TV show. He set himself on a course of redemption and charity and, one could fairly say, he succeeded at that task, at least in the eyes of those who mattered — his family, friends, and God. As well as anyone else who was paying attention.
    So basically, as far as the wingnuts are concerned, Weiner must make amends for the utterly juvenile tactic of sending crotch shots of himself over Twitter by living a life of abject poverty.

    Yeah, I think we’ve officially gone around the bend on this whole thing right about now.

    It also needs to be pointed out, on behalf of The Daily Tucker’s Ike Brannon, that Profumo did not “(have) a fling with a comely KGB agent.” As Wikipedia tells us here, he had an affair with Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged Russian spy (the whole thing is the subject of the entertaining film “Scandal” from the 80s, starring John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Joanne Whalley and Bridget Fonda, with the latter upstaging the former).

  • Also, did you know that 80 percent of U.S. mosques promote violent jihad, as noted here?

    Don’t worry – as noted here about a comparable report…
    The report attempts to establish a link between what it calls the “Shariah adherency” of the 100 mosques “surveyed” and the promotion of violent jihad. (The surveyors supposedly made two visits to each mosque and asked certain questions of the mosque leader.) But the survey was structured with highly dubious assumptions. The Shariah-adherency of a mosque was determined by observing a dozen externally detectible religious practices, such as whether imams wore beards, whether men and women were allowed to pray together, and whether worshipers were formed into straight lines. But this could easily be nothing more than a reflection of an imam’s respect for tradition, and not a “tell” tipping off a secret embrace of radical Islam.

    Then, the mosque’s supposed willingness to promote violent jihad was evaluated by noting the presence or absence of certain pre-modern Islamic law texts, contemporary pamphlets, and whether, when asked, the mosque leader “recommended” those that contained calls to violent jihad. But this, too, is a weak and unreliable standard, as it equates the simple presence of certain material, or the imam’s recommendation of it, as an endorsement of the most violent passages. (If a priest or rabbi had a Bible on hand and “recommended” the reading of the Book of Leviticus, would that establish that he favors killing adulterers, idolaters and incorrigible children?)
    And as Media Matters tells us here, the “80 percent” claim is just the latest announcement of an evergreen “zombie lie.”

  • Next, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting anxiously to find out what our Repug PA-08 House Rep, “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick plans to do about jobs.

    Well, as noted here, he plans to award a $1,000 tax credit to a business in Warminster for hiring a single employee.

    I hope all of you nitwits who voted for this fraud last year are still pleased with yourselves.

  • Finally, I want to note that I recently watch the HBO production “Too Big To Fail” based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book about the 2008 financial meltdown from which we have yet to recover.

    I think all of the performances were great, in particular William Hurt as Bushco Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Billy Crudup as New York Fed Chairman Tim Geithner, Paul Giamatti as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Tony Shalhoub as John Mack, Chairman of Morgan Stanley, and James Woods as Richard Fuld, Chairman of Lehman Brothers. I particularly liked some of the interaction between Hurt and Giamatti as they almost tried to out-deadpan each other while everything unravels.

    Woods gets a chance here to do what he does best, and that is to chomp on the scenery big time as Fuld, and as I watched Woods’ portrayal, I thought to myself that Fuld must have been good at something, or else he wouldn’t have ended up in charge, even though he ends up committing an unending series of mistakes and miscalculations. And when Lehman goes down, Paulson is at first staggered, but then he ends up benefitting from some favorable press about “taking Wall Street to the woodshed” or something; his reverie is short lived, though, as the market begins falling even faster after Lehman goes under (and Paulson faces fire from overseas banks also as a result).

    Another fine performance comes from Matthew Modine as John Thain of Merrill Lynch, someone who emerges as particularly detestable when he announces arrogantly (though correctly, as it turns out) that Lehman is “dead,” and Thain also ends up questioning Paulson and Bernanke over the issue of compensation when Thain is basically told to sign off on TARP, leading to a firm smack down by Bernanke (I can’t recall the name of the actor who played former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, but I thought he did a good job of showing Cox as a truly spineless individual, particularly in the showdown with Lehman).

    The problem I have with this, though, really goes back to Sorkin (who appears in a vanity moment asking Paulson a question at a press conference). I have no grounds to question any of the facts that he presents here, but I could not help but feel that he was waaay too deferential to these people, particularly Paulson and Bernanke and, to a lesser extent, Lloyd Blankfein of AIG Goldman Sachs. Sorry, but I absolutely refuse to believe that even Bushco didn’t have any idea just how toxic the crap was that our geniuses in finance were peddling, and to hear Sorkin tell it, the fallout caught everyone utterly by surprise – again, that may be a spot-on retelling, but it doesn’t sit right with me.

    It’s kind of a shame that the only sympathetic viewpoint from the audience here is expressed by two relatively minor players, though they were good also (Topher Grace and Cynthia Nixon portraying individuals on Paulson’s staff). I think the fact that they were the only people who apparently represented the actual interests of taxpayers here is symptomatic of the problem.

    The movie ends with TARP getting passed and Paulson and company wondering if it will be used for its intended purpose. I actually supported it partly because then-Congressman Patrick Murphy said it was necessary to unfreeze credit markets, and also because I thought it would be accompanied by some effective mortgage modification on behalf of “underwater” consumers. More fool me, I guess.

    I won’t make that mistake again. If God forbid we’re faced with another crisis like this, then just nationalize the bastards and throw all of these criminals out into the street.
  • Monday, June 13, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Aw, c'mon, you REALLY didn't think the Repugs were done after trying to pass "Ryan Care" did you?

    (Note: I FINALLY upgraded to Google Chrome, which proceeded to fix three of my browser issues...took me long enough, I know...maybe back to blogging tomorrow, I dunno.)

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and I'll say a prayer for you, big man - all the best (here).