Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Here's a piece from RT where a reporter actually takes time to speak with someone involved in the "Occupy" protest in the UK today...

...and here is a report from our media which starts out with the presumption that the protests will automatically be violent (nice - I think there was trouble in Italy, though...more here and here)...

(By the way, more here - and to get an idea again of how the news organizations with initials for names are treating this, I went to ABC's site and all I could find was a supposedly humorous slide show of "unusual" signs at the protest in Zuccotti Park, as if this is nothing but a sideshow novelty act...memo to Diane Sawyer; please pass the sweet and sour shrimp while "the help" decides to get on with the messy business of standing up to the steamroller driven by your corporate puppet masters.)

...and turning to something altogether different, today is the 60th anniversary of the premiere of "I Love Lucy" on CBS (good luck trying to show a bit like this now; sorry about the Russian subtitles - not that that's bad, I know - but this is a really good quality vid).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Stuff

Hat tip to profmarcus for this – powerful stuff (amazing that our “leaders” believe they can lecture the whole world while apparently failing to see what is plainly apparent in front of everyone’s eyes but their own)…

…and New York City’s “finest” keeps giving us videos such as these (this clip doesn’t have the guy getting run over, which follows)…

…Yetta Kurland, the attorney for Ari Douglas, the lawyer observing OWS (who allegedly allowed himself to be run over by a moped – please), talks to Keith…

…and leave it to Matt Taibbi to have good ideas on demands the OWS people can make right now (here)…

…and happy 65th birthday to Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues (I believe the song title requires no further explanation).

Friday Mashup (10/14/11)

Kind of "quick and dirty" a bit today (couldn't track down last week's "Area Votes in Congress" writeup from the Philadelphia Inquirer - still looking)...

  • According to Fix Noise, apparently celebrities like Kanye West, Alec Baldwin and Russell Simmons are “hypocrites” for supporting the “99 Percent” movement (here).

    At least the Dems are actually honest about their endorsements, unlike this crowd (paging Chuck Norris, Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sandler, Dennis Miller, etc.).

  • Continuing, somebody named Arthur Herman at Rupert Murdoch’s New York Vanity Press (the tabloid, I mean) accused President Obama of a supposed plan to fly to Japan and apologize for Hiroshima here (oh, but it was in a Wikileaks cable!).

    Uh, no.

  • Further, former Bushie Carlos Gutierrez whined as follows yesterday (here)…
    As Secretary of Commerce, I had the privilege to help forge new trade agreements for our country with allies in Asia and Latin America. I saw first hand the enormous challenges of building trading relationships and the enormous benefits that accrue to all sides when we succeed in opening our economies to each other’s goods and services.

    But since leaving office, I have known the frustration of watching so much of America’s progress on opening markets squandered by a president who sees trade policy as either a political game or an afterthought. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney recognizes the importance of trade to our economic future, and I believe he has the combination of business experience, leadership, and conservative principles to put our economy back on the path of growth and job creation.
    It’s truly hilarious that this was published on the day that Congress passed three “free” trade agreements that the Obama White House approves, since it will supposedly “put people back to work,” a piece of fact-free punditry from Jim Abrams of the AP (here), who should know better but apparently doesn’t (no room for the Obama jobs bill though, as far as those House miscreants are concerned – and in my opinion for what it’s worth, this was “snuck out the back door” in terms of corporate media reporting while the odious Joe Pitts “Let’s Let Pregnant Mothers Die Instead Of Giving Them A Life-Saving Abortion If They Need One” bill got the majority of the coverage.

    As far as the South Korea deal goes, the following should be noted from here…
    …the studies by the United States International Trade Commission found that the deals would cost jobs in some industries, especially the textile industry.

    Highland Industries, a Greensboro, N.C., company that employs 680 people at two factories, manufactures a kind of fabric that is used to reinforce the roof coverings on commercial buildings like big-box stores. The massive rolls of fabric can be 12 feet wide and 5,000 yards long.

    South Korean companies sell similar material at prices 15 to 20 percent below Highland’s. Bret Kelley, a Highland executive, said the company was able to compete on speed and customer service, but he said that could change if the trade agreement passed because the tariff reductions would allow South Korean companies to lower prices by another 10 percent.

    “We’re quick and nimble, and we forge strong relationships, but what we’re selling is a commoditized product,” Mr. Kelley said. “Those companies will start looking away for savings of 25 and 30 percent.”

    Textile industry executives are particularly incensed that for some products the deal requires the United States to end tariffs more quickly than South Korea.

    The administration says there are only about two dozen such cases, and that the deal on the whole favors American companies. South Korea must eliminate tariffs immediately on 98 percent of the roughly 1,500 listed products in the textiles and apparel categories, and complete the process within five years. The United States would eliminate tariffs immediately on 87 percent of listed products, and complete the process within 10 years.

    But many in the textile industry say the promise of a level playing field offers little comfort, because a deal between a larger economy and a smaller one inherently favors companies in the smaller country, which gain access to the larger market. South Korea’s annual consumption of goods and services is less than one-tenth the size of America’s.

    “There’s not a market for our products there,” Mr. Kelley said. “We don’t have an opportunity.”
    Turning to Panama, I give you the following here from Dylan Ratigan…
    Panama is too small as an economy to really impact jobs in the United States; the real value of the FTA is strategic and has to do with American geopolitical aims. For the business community, Panama is a great place to hide their money.

    Panama is the second largest tax haven in the world, according to a secret State Department memo released by Wikileaks. There’s a deep irony in the US relationship with Panama. The country’s cooperation in the war on drugs is considered pivotal, with the State Department arguing that Panama is more important to the US than we are to Panama (see this cable). One third of all ships are flagged in Panama, and Panama lets the US board those ships to search for drugs. But for some reason, Panama’s position as a haven for drug money is not a particular concern.

    In order to move the Panama FTA, Panama decided to sign a tax information sharing treaty with the US, but most experts think this is somewhat toothless in terms of preventing tax evasion and corporate secrecy. The evidence for this are the legions of law firms that are willing to aid wealthy Americans in avoiding taxes by using the Panamanian corporate structure.
    And as far as Columbia is concerned, Gutierrez said here about four years ago that “labor violence was no longer a problem” in the country, even though Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio brought evidence in response to Gutierrez’s attention indicating that “Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a labor leader” (and I haven’t found any evidence showing that that situation has changed one bit).

    Want to know the priorities of the employers pushing for these scams (to which no Democrat should ever associate him or herself)? Check this out.

  • Finally, Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News criticized Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West for responding to Herman Cain’s claim that racism no longer exists in America, or something (here, with a backgrounder from the reality-based point of view here...I will admit that the "crack pipe" reference to Cain may have been a bit "over the top," though it pales when compared to typical wingnut attack language).

    Life is short and I really don’t have the time to respond to Flowers as I should (pathetic that this woman still draws a paycheck for concocting this bilious crap). Instead, I’ll merely link to Bill Maher below, who refutes Flowers on this better than I could (courtesy of HBO).

  • Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    I asked it once before here and I'll ask it again - why does Joe Pitts hate America?

    You know, in a really sick, twisted way, I'm actually glad the House did this. If this doesn't shine a spotlight on the human mistake that is the PA-16 Repug U.S. House Rep (and those life forms who continue to send him back to Capitol Hill), nothing will (here...and I don't know yet how Mikey The Beloved voted on this obscenity, but I'll find out)...

    ...I also thought former activist and current CA state assemblyman Tom Hayden had some interesting thoughts on the "Occupy" movement last night...

    ..."Worst Persons" (Billo decides to take on Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West over "OWS" - bad idea; Moon Unit Bachmann can't remember whether or not she works for the government, which I'm sure is news to her constituents; but Florida State Legislator Brad Drake and this meat sack named Curry Todd, a Tennessee state politician, share "Worst" honors, and I'll let K.O. tell you why...and yes, a bad word slipped out, which to me is far from the worst offense here)...

    ...and happy 70th birthday to Paul Simon (I always liked this tune and video).

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    Gee, I can't wait to see how Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times manages to spin this into another "Sharks vs. Jets" column - as far as I'm concerned, if you're not one of the "pay no price, bear no burden" 1 percent of the top earners in this country and you vote for a Republican on the national level, you're a goddamn idiot...

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

    Update 1 10/13/11: Yep, I would say this explains it (h/t Atrios).

    Update 2 10/13/11: More here.

    ...and "Jesus Christ, Superstar" debuted in Broadway on this day 40 years ago (or, as somebody said, if you actually remember the '60s, then you didn't live through it - the decade when this came out was full of what used to be called "variety shows," and I would say that this reflects that influence).

    Wednesday Mashup (10/12/11)

  • To begin, I give you wankery from across the pond courtesy of James Delingpole (here)…
    One of the worst aspects of living in these apocalyptic times is that whenever you look around the world, wondering where you might escape to, you begin to realise that everywhere else is just as bad if not worse.

    Take Australia, an island built on fossil fuel with an economy dependent on fossil fuel. What would be the maddest economic policy a place like that could pursue as the world tips deeper into recession? Why, to introduce a carbon tax, of course. Which, for reasons just explained above, means a tax on absobloodylutely everything. Which is exactly what Julia Gillard's Coalition (why is it that word always makes me want to reach for my Browning?) has just gone and done, obviously.

    Here, for example, is its Chief Scientist Ian Chubb in action:

    "With respect to this cooling stuff, I have seen the claim, but the evidence that I have seen is that the last decade has been the warmest decade that we have ever had on this planet, so I do not know what this cooling stuff means.”

    Let's just run that one by you again, in case you thought you'd been overdoing the Cane toad juice. The man who came up with that scientifically inaccurate, historically ignorant, Greenpeace-like enviro-hysteria drivel is AUSTRALIA'S CHIEF SCIENTIST.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…
    I have come to Australia to see what a global-warming future holds for this most vulnerable of nations, and Mother Nature has been happy to oblige: Over the course of just a few weeks, the continent has been hit by a record heat wave, a crippling drought, bush fires, floods that swamped an area the size of France and Germany combined, even a plague of locusts. "In many ways, it is a disaster of biblical proportions," Andrew Fraser, the Queensland state treasurer, told reporters. He was talking about the floods in his region, but the sense that Australia – which maintains one of the highest per-capita carbon footprints on the planet – has summoned up the wrath of the climate gods is everywhere. "Australia is the canary in the coal mine," says David Karoly, a top climate researcher at the University of Melbourne. "What is happening in Australia now is similar to what we can expect to see in other places in the future."

    As (Hurricane) Yasi bears down on the coast, the massive storm seems to embody the not-quite-conscious fears of Australians that their country may be doomed by global warming. This year's disasters, in fact, are only the latest installment in an ongoing series of climate-related crises. In 2009, wildfires in Australia torched more than a million acres and killed 173 people. The Murray-Darling Basin, which serves as the country's breadbasket, has suffered a dec¬ades-long drought, and what water is left is becoming increasingly salty and unusable, raising the question of whether Australia, long a major food exporter, will be able to feed itself in the coming dec¬ades. The oceans are getting warmer and more acidic, leading to the all-but-certain death of the Great Barrier Reef within 40 years. Homes along the Gold Coast are being swept away, koala bears face extinction in the wild, and farmers, their crops shriveled by drought, are shooting themselves in despair.

    With Yasi approaching fast, disaster preparations are fully under way. At the airport, the Australian Defense Force is racing to load emergency supplies into Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. Entire cities have shut down, their streets nearly empty as I drive north, toward the center of the storm, through sugar plantations and ranch land. Dead kangaroos sprawl by the side of the road, the victims of motorists fleeing the storm.
    As noted here, Delingpole once said, "I feel a bit of an imposter talking about the science. I'm kind of -- I'm not a scientist, you may be aware. ... I leave the science stuff to you guys and I think it's good that we stick to our jobs."

    Which I suppose begs the following question: aside from being a bought-and-paid-for shill by the climate change denial industry, exactly what is Delingpole’s job anyway?

  • Continuing, I give you Trying To Construct And Inflate Beyond All Reason Yet Another Supposed Obama Administration “Scandal” 101; your instructor is Matthew Boyle of The Daily Tucker (here)…
    As failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra rides through the investigative ringer in Congress, revelations of another politically-connected company that received what appears to be a less-than-virtuous $1.2 billion loan guarantee are surfacing.

    The company, SunPower, received its $1.2 billion loan guarantee in September, immediately before the program’s deadline.

    SunPower isn’t as financially sound as the public was led to believe when it secured a loan guarantee twice the size of Solyndra’s $535 million loan. Just this week — less than a month after taxpayers landed on the hook for SunPower’s $1.2 billion loan guarantee — company executives announced that they expect to lower their 2011 earnings projections.

    The company also carries $820 million in debt, which is $20 million more than its market capitalization.
    Still waiting to find out what the supposed “scandal” is here (and Boyle continues to stack the proverbial deck by reminding us how much of this is taxpayer-funded – it would be nice to see more of that concerning our monstrous defense budget)…
    “There is great cause for alarm over political influence contaminating the DOE loan guarantee program,” (Repug House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns) told The Daily Caller. “The documents that the White House dumped last Friday reveal a disturbing prevalence of wealthy donors and bundlers littered throughout the loan guarantee process, with direct access to the President’s West Wing inner circle.”

    Stearns adds that, because “billions of taxpayers dollars are at stake” in the loan guarantee process, the committee has doubled down on information requests from Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
    And how is that different exactly from Departments of Energy in prior administrations?
    Last October, President Barack Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and California Democratic Rep. George Miller toured SunPower’s plant in California. Both touted the company. Miller said SunPower was an example for “renewable energy” production and “America’s future economic growth.”

    But, Miller failed to mention how his son, George Miller IV, is SunPower’s top lobbyist in California. Miller’s son was pushing for the $1.2 billion loan guarantee taxpayers are on the hook for now. Miller is a powerful Democratic congressman, and currently serves as the ranking minority member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
    Ummm…still looking for illegality here, people (and I think they are too).
    Less than a month after SunPower received the conditional commitment from the Obama administration, a French oil giant, Total S.A., bought majority ownership — 60 percent — of the company. SunPower investors backed the move. A Total S.A. executive told the New York Times the company believed in solar energy, and its move was an attempt to capitalize on it.

    “We believe the winners in the solar industry will be fully integrated, financially solid, advanced technology and worldwide,” Total Gas & Power President Philippe Boisseau said. “SunPower has the technology. We already have some of the technology, but we’ve also got the market and the finance. It’s a full industrial combination.”

    The Obama administration — which says it was continuing to vet SunPower after it granted the company a conditional commitment for the $1.2 billion loan guarantee — saw the company as promising and continued to move forward.

    Then, right before the Obama administration signed the deal giving SunPower its $1.2 billion loan guarantee, SunPower and Total S.A. sold the project — which taxpayers are now responsible for — to NRG Energy, Inc. The loan guarantee still went through, despite the sudden pullout from Total S.A.

    Mere weeks before finalizing the deal with the Department of Energy, SunPower announced it was opening a new facility in Mexicali, Mexico — instead of another one in the United States — in order to manufacture solar panels there too.
    Sooo…are we now supposed to prosecute every U.S. company that moves its operations to Mexico?

    Oh, and Boyle throws in this little tidbit at the very end…
    President George W. Bush’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission head Pat Wood II is a member of SunPower’s board of directors.
    In response, I give you this on Solyndra, which tells us that “the loan, which was originally pushed by the Bush administration, was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.” We also learn the following…
    The typical conservative-outlet story follows a template of Glenn-Beckian accusations that someone “connected to” Obama has “ties” to something. When you hear the phrasing “has ties to” you should understand this as code-speak for “has nothing to do with but can be made to appear to have some sinister involvement if you twist the wording a certain way.”
    But wait, there’s more…
    FOX News has been promoting this “scandal” story heavily. (It should be noted here that Fox’s parent company News Corp’s 2nd-largest shareholder is oil billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed - an “oil interest” if ever there was one.)
    And for the grownup perspective on this, I would ask that you read the following (from here)…
    Beginning in early 2009, the Obama administration's use of stimulus money under the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program went not just to help out a handful of businesses, but to jump-start a market. Funds doled out under the stimulus have gone, or are going to, a portfolio of renewables. The complete list of 32 "section 1705" (stimulus-funded) loan guarantees, available on the DOE website, is more than half solar -- it includes four solar manufacturing companies (including Solyndra) and 15 solar generation plants, along with assorted wind, geothermal, and biofuel businesses.

    Demand for solar panels rose, partially as a result of this and other government policies. United States solar firms achieved a positive trade flow of $1.9 billion in 2010, mostly on photovoltaic components. Of that, the United States imported $1.4 billion from China, and exported between $1.7 and $2 billion, says a solar industry report [PDF, p. 18].

    China's reaction to that trade surplus? Since January 2011, the Chinese government has dumped $30 billion into support for its solar industry. China now dominates solar manufacturing, with 70 percent of the global solar-panel market, and, as Agence France-Presse reports, it is "almost solely focused on exports, with as much as 95 percent of production sold overseas, according to some estimates"...

    The U.S. market responded to the flood of cheap solar panels: Solar is booming. The U.S. solar market doubled last year, and it’s expected to double again this year, even though many states are reducing their subsidies. How many other industries are growing that fast in this economy?
    But of course, as far as the wingnuts are concerned, why should they do anything to promote actual job growth in this country when there are cheap propaganda points to be scored against the Democrats?

  • Further, BoBo opined as follows in the New York Times yesterday (here).
    President Obama promises not to raise taxes on the bottom 98 percent. The Occupy-types celebrate the bottom 99 percent. Republicans promise not to raise taxes on the bottom 100 percent.
    As much as I’d like to expound on the idiocy of that lie, I will choose not to do so and only link here in response; the evidence presented to the contrary is damning enough.

  • Also, I give you another conservative fever dream from James Jay Carafano (here, about an alleged Iranian plot against a Saudi U.S. envoy that was recently broken up)…
    Somebody in the Iranian government backed a planned terrorist attack in America’s back yard? No surprise there. Tehran didn’t earn a reputation as the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism for nothing.

    Nor is it terribly shocking to hear that the plot was intended to be carried out on US soil. America these days must appear an open target for the likes of Iran.

    This summer, President Obama revealed his new and improved strategy for combating terrorism. Pop quiz: What did it say about Iran? Almost nothing. Despite its record, Tehran merited just one mention in 19 pages.

    This wasn’t an oversight. The White House didn’t forget to say something substantial about state-sponsored terrorism. It’s just that talking about states that foster and fund the slaughter of innocents is much too inconvenient a truth for the administration.
    Oh, ha ha, get it? “Inconvenient Truth,” the Al Gore movie – and Obama is a Democrat too. Big yuks…

    To begin, this tells us that former Bushco U.N. representative “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton also blamed Obama for not attacking Iran, ignoring Bolton’s own “inconvenient truth” that Number 43 nixed such a disastrous enterprise also (Dubya didn’t get much right, but he “found the nut” on that one).

    The post from Think Progress also tells us that Bolton’s old boss nixed the sale of “bunker busting” bombs to Israel, the type of which could be used against Iran (another good move, shockingly enough). Unfortunately, that supposed Iran-loving current White House occupant chose not to honor that precedent (here).

    On top of that, I give you the following from here…
    Something strange is happening in Washington. In August, the Obama administration is expected to announce whether it will keep the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian group that killed American civilians and officials in the 1970s, on its foreign terrorist organisations (FTO) list.

    Known for its cult-like behavior, the MEK (also known as the People's Mujahedin of Iran, PMOI or MKO) fought alongside Saddam Hussein's regime against its own country during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. This is one reason why it has almost no Iranian support, even if it refers to itself as the "most popular resistance group inside Iran" on its official website. It does, however, enjoy the backing of several US heavyweights with high national security credentials.

    George W. Bush's attorney general Michael Mukasey has described MEK members as "courageous freedom fighters". President Barack Obama's former national security advisor, General James L. Jones, gave a speech at a MEK conference dominated by non-Iranians. Their events have also been attended by former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
    The al Jazeera post also tells us that “In 1979, the MEK also supported the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.” And further… January, law professor David Cole wrote that Mukasey, Giuliani, (former DHS head Tom) Ridge and (former Bushie) Frances Fragos Townsend could have committed a crime simply by vocally supporting the MEK's cause in Paris. While proving liability is again the issue, the Patriot Act's material support law makes it a felony to support an FTO by engaging "in public advocacy to challenge a group's 'terrorist' designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances," wrote Cole.

    MEK supporters' talk of facilitating "democratic change" in Iran through a group that does not have support there recalls memories of the UK-US engineered coup against the government of Mohammad Mossaddegh, who is still revered by Iranians as their first and only democratically-elected prime minister. What resulted was decades of authoritarian rule, from a pro-US but repressive and deeply unpopular monarchy, to a clerical establishment that enforces Iranian independence from foreign control through equally repressive means. This was the US' "blowback", and as the late Chalmers Johnson noted, the term was first used by the CIA in an after-action report about Mossaddegh's 1953 overthrow.

    In her book on US-Iran relations, (US foreign policy analyst Barbara) Slavin reports that in 2003 the Iranians offered to exchange some key members of Al Qaeda who had fled from Afghanistan for members of the MEK based at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Some figures in the Bush administration supported this, but Slavin notes that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said that the deal was blocked by neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, who thought that the MEK could be used as a force against Iran. A comprehensive peace offer by Iran was likewise scuttled by the neoconservatives in 2003, thereby discrediting the moderates in Iran and facilitating the ascent of the hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    (By the way, I don’t have an update at the moment on MEK’s status on the FTO list.)

    So it looks like the MEK has been playing both sides of the aisle, as they say. And it also looks like, in the event that this country attempts military action for real against Iran (makes me hope that our supposed military geniuses brush up on the British Battle of Dunkirk in WWII), MEK would collect the spoils, all in the name of The Now And Forever You Godless Kenyan Marxist Socialist Lovin’ Commie Lu-bu-ruul Global War On Terra! Terra! Terra!

    Oh, and by the way, as noted here, Carafano has never let facts get in the way of documenting his delusions, which you can probably attribute to an advanced case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

  • Finally, it seems that “Goodhair” Perry had another tough night at the Repug Presidential Candidates’ Beauty Pageant (here).

    And that makes me recall this particularly preposterous recent opinion column…
    …The Washington Post officially hit rock bottom and removed all pretense of being an unbiased newspaper with a truly disgusting front-page story on Texas governor Rick Perry which worked overtime to paint him as a racist by twisting a series of clouded, unrelated, and anonymous partial memories about something which was flat-out totally unrelated to Perry. They sent a team of reporters (one hopes they are using as many reporters to investigate “Fast and Furious” and Solyndra) to Texas and then breathlessly “reported ” -- using over 3,200 words -- that there was a rock on some property once leased by the Perry family which had an offensive word written on it.

    The Post acknowledges that the painted rock was there years before Rick Perry walked the land and that he had nothing to do with it being there. Governor Perry then stated that right after his family leased that parcel of land in the early 1980’s and as soon as they saw the rock with the offending word, that his father painted over it immediately.
    I know most people know what I’m talking about here, so I won’t add anything else about that (besides, I have bigger issues with Perry than the name on a block in front of a ranch).

    To wit, I give you the following (here, in which the feds say Perry’s redistricting plan in TX is discriminatory, and a federal judge apparently agrees).

    Also, as noted here…
    Duane Buck is one of four men scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas, where Perry is governor, over the next eight days – an exceptional rate even in this execution-happy state. At Buck's sentencing hearing, the jury that set his punishment was informed by a psychologist that black people had a higher rate of violent behaviour, a statement used by the prosecution as its key argument against giving him an alternative penalty of life imprisonment.
    Fortunately, Buck’s execution was halted (and this tells us about Vidor, TX, which had a reputation as a “sundown town,” as in, no blacks on the street after…). And here is still more information on racist names used across southeast Texas.

    I don’t know if Rick Perry is a racist or not. Is Texas a racist state? I’ll let you, dear reader, be the judge (and I learned that we in our illustrious commonwealth don’t have room to throw stones about that from the 2008 presidential election).

    Did the Washington Post play a game of “gotcha” with Perry on the whole “N-head rock” thing? Yeah, I guess, but as somebody said, politics ain’t beanbag (see John Kerry, 2004). And a supposed “liberal smear” doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the fact that Perry, due to his appalling lack of qualifications (to say nothing of the rest of that motley bunch), has no business campaigning for the most important job in the world.
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    (By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, I changed the pithy little quote in the header to something more in the spirit of the "Occupy" protests, not because I'm upset with Joan Ryan for any reason whatsoever. Her great quote came from a column about the Terri Schiavo circus six years ago, and though I'd love to be wrong, I'm not holding out a lot of hope for "thoughtful and rigorous debate" around here.)

    The testimony of Anita Hill in the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court then-nominee Clarence Thomas took place 20 years ago today, prompting this item from Cenk Uygur from a related news story earlier this year (Saturday Night Live did a parody of the hearings that I thought was hilarious, back when I still watched the show - my take on Thomas, for what it was worth, was that he had no business even being considered before we even got to Anita Hill)...

    ...and I think this is an appropriate little selection (I once heard RT do a great cover of this one).

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Consider this my contribution to help this video (I hope) go "viral" (here...from the "menagerie of malcontents," as a Detroit TV station referred to them)...

    ...and now for something completely different, as a gang of Brits once said as I recall; RIP Roger Williams.

    Update: From the "past is prologue," department, I give you this from Gil Scott-Heron once more (who we lost this year)...ties in a bit to the "Occupy" protests as far as I'm concerned (even though the references are dated, of course...might be just me I guess).

    Update 10/11/11: Nice work, Beantown bastards (and in Seattle too).

    Monday Mashup (10/10/11)

  • (Just some random thoughts – I’m getting really fed up with the deification of Steve Jobs now that he’s dead, and I’m more than a little disgusted with the same treatment given to Christopher Hitchens while he’s still alive.)

  • Continuing, John Harwood of the New York Times wrote the following today (here, on why everybody is mad at Washington and why everybody within the city are mad at each other)…
    Intrasquad anger among Democrats, who stand to lose ground in 2012 Senate elections, can be worse.
    And as you read this post, you will find no evidence whatsoever to support Harwood’s claim that I highlighted (only his statement at the beginning that “every poll shows it”). And I don't see why I should have to do his research for him.

    I don’t really have anything brilliant or interesting to say in response, but I thought I should point that out.

  • Staying with the Times (and with a similar theme), I think you’d have to go a long way to outdo this bit of jaded corporate media wankery from Jennifer Steinhauer (here, in which she compares the Senate Dems and Repugs to the Sharks and the Jets in “West Side Story,” alleging still more false equivalency)…
    WASHINGTON — Of the multitudinous insults that have zinged across the Capitol this year, a taunt most brutal was leveraged by the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the Senate floor on Thursday night. He accused the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, of “fundamentally turning the Senate into the House.”
    Which is particularly hilarious since the party of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao happens to be in charge there – continuing…
    Mr. McConnell’s rage — and its expression roughly akin in this town to comparing the Hope diamond to a Joan Rivers baguette sold on cable TV — stemmed from a last-minute tweaking to the Senate’s intricate rules that prevented Republicans from forcing Democrats to vote on a stream of unrelated amendments to a China currency bill.
    Ummm – am I the only one who is utterly confused by this cutesy remark (of course, being a guy, I would think sandwich when I hear about a “Joan Rivers baguette”).

    How about if I introduce a little bit of actual reporting to this nonsense?

    As noted here (from September a year ago)…
    WASHINGTON — A determined Republican stall campaign in the Senate has sidetracked so many of the men and women nominated by President Barack Obama for judgeships that he has put fewer people on the bench than any president since Richard Nixon at a similar point in his first term 40 years ago.

    The delaying tactics have proved so successful, despite the Democrats' substantial Senate majority, that fewer than half of Obama's nominees have been confirmed and 102 out of 854 judgeships are vacant.

    Forty-seven of those vacancies have been labeled emergencies by the judiciary because of heavy caseloads.

    White House counsel Bob Bauer and progressive groups squarely blame Republicans.

    The Senate GOP is obstructing "confirmations across the board, even forcing noncontroversial nominees who passed committee with overwhelming bipartisan support to wait months for a floor vote," Bauer said.

    Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal People for the American Way, said that stalling votes on judges is "part and parcel of the general obstruction we're seeing right now."

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has acknowledged that his strategy is partly payback for Democrats' blocking some Bush appointees.

    But McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the responsibility for the lack of confirmations lies with Obama, who nominated just 33 people to judgeships in 2009, and Reid, who controls the Senate calendar.

    "We can't confirm what's not there," Stewart said.

    But Republican senators have forced postponements of hearings and votes in the Judiciary Committee and used their power under the chamber's rules to block any easy route to full Senate votes.
    Also, this tells us that as many as 100 Obama Administration nominees had “secret holds” placed on their nominations as of April 2010 (if I can track down an update, I’ll add it here).

    And in keeping with the judicial appointments, this post from last February tells us the following…
    Obama must shoulder part of the blame for his administration's relatively slow pace in judicial appointments. But mostly this is a story of Senate dysfunction and the politicization of judicial appointments. It only takes one senator to put a hold on a prospective judge -- and more than a few Republicans are all too eager to get their hands on Obama's appointments.

    It's time for them to let go. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced in January an agreement to quash some of the procedural tactics that have stalled nominations.

    (Oregon Federal Judge Marco) Hernandez made it through, but that's hardly a credit to the Senate. Three appointments over three years to get a judge with impeccable credentials confirmed to the federal bench? That's not advise and consent. That's absurd.
    Almost as absurd as New York Times reporter baselessly comparing one of our two bodies of the U.S. Congress to a Broadway musical (sounds like Steinhauer is auditioning for the part of Maureen Dowd’s “mini me” – here is a list of other related posts on this topic).

  • Further, I have some breaking news – Marc Thiessen is still wrong (here)…
    (Attorney General Eric) Holder’s bad advice began almost immediately after Obama took office, when he and White House counsel Greg Craig convinced the president to announce the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay by January 2010 — without even examining the feasibility of doing so. Not only did the president suffer the indignity of missing this deadline, public opinion turned against the decision so sharply that Democrats abandoned the president and joined Republicans in voting 90-to-6 in the Senate to block funds for the facility’s closure. Almost three years later, Guantanamo remains open and the administration has given up hope of closing it.
    Gee, I gave up trying to count the deadlines that Obama’s predecessor (and Thiessen’s former boss) kept missing on when we would be all done with Number 43’s Not So Excellent Iraq Adventure (more on him about "indignity").
    The next unneeded firestorm came with Holder’s decision to release classified Justice Department memos on the CIA terrorist interrogation program and reopen criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators. Holder overrode the objections of five CIA directors, including Leon Panetta. According to The Post, “Before his decision to reopen the cases, Holder did not read detailed memos that [career] prosecutors drafted and placed in files to explain their decision to decline prosecutions.” If he had bothered to do so, he could have predicted the eventual outcome: The special prosecutor he appointed came to the same conclusion as the career prosecutors under the Bush administration and found no criminal wrongdoing by the CIA officials involved in the agency’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. After two years of wasted resources and needless controversy, Holder came up empty.
    As noted here from September 2009…
    In response to a public campaign by the CIA, the Obama administration has decided to further scale back an already narrow investigation of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture during the Bush years that was announced last month by Attorney General Eric Holder.

    In announcing the probe, Holder had made clear that it would be limited to CIA agents whose torture of alleged terrorists went beyond the bounds laid down by Bush administration directives. It would target neither the Justice Department lawyers who drew up findings providing a pseudo-legal justification for waterboarding, hanging prisoners from walls, placing them in boxes for hours on end, and similar crimes, nor the top Bush administration officials who ordered and oversaw such practices.

    The CIA—including the current director and Obama appointee, Leon Panetta—and former Bush administration officials, led by former Vice President Dick Cheney, have denounced Holder’s token probe, claiming that it will hamstring US intelligence operations and give aid and comfort to the terrorists.
    Oh, and by the way, as noted here (under the heading of “actions have consequences”), the two Americans released by Iran last month after their illegal captivity, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, said that their captors used the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and the secret CIA prisons as an excuse for their maltreatment (yes, we know what Iran is, but had we not engaged in these odious practices – which also did not, and do not, yield actionable intelligence – we would have denied the Iranians of a propaganda tool).

  • Also, leave it to the formerly Moonie Times to concoct the following (here)…
    The Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill was supposed to protect consumers. Not surprisingly, this “protection” means consumers are going to be nickel-and-dimed to death with brand-new banking fees.

    Blame Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, for inserting an amendment into that crony-capitalist law to limit debit interchange fees that large banks (those with more than $10 billion in assets) can charge. Banks typically have provided debit cards free to consumers, and often included reward programs. Interchange fees paid by merchants made this possible. Now that the law has taken hold, the average fee has gone from about 44 cents per transaction to 21 cents. That might not sound like much, but in the first full week the cap was in effect, one of the largest processors in the country, Heartland Payment Systems, returned almost $1.8 million to the merchants in its network.

    This adds up to big money. Interchange fees amount to about $16 billion a year for banks, and the Durbin Amendment is expected to cost banks $6.6 billion in revenue, which comes on top of a $5.6 billion loss from earlier restrictions on overdraft fees. Having lost a large chunk of their revenue, the big banks are going to look for other ways to recover.
    As Think Progress tells us here, "it’s unclear how (conservatives) thinks a law that hasn’t even been fully implemented could already be killing one of the most powerful industries in the country" (and get a load of how our supposed financial geniuses will be forced to "recover" after reaping double-digit-percentage profit increases in the second quarter).

    Besides, as noted here (from Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research)…
    Debit cards have a cost; it makes sense to have the people who benefit from using them pay the cost. Under the former system, cash customers effectively were being taxed so that banks could allow people to use debit cards for free. Under the new system, the cost is transparent and people could decide for themselves whether they want to pay it. Market supporters should prefer the current system. [E-mail to Media Matters, 9/30/11]
    As noted here, though, the Washington Times should “clean its own glass house” on the issue of financial credibility before it starts throwing stones elsewhere.

  • Finally, I give you the following truly noxious item…
    DALLAS — George W. Bush says that after eight years in the White House, he's happy to be back home in Texas and out of the spotlight.

    But the former commander-in-chief tells The Associated Press there's one aspect of his presidency he still misses: interaction with U.S. troops. And Bush, who sent them to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, says that despite his desire to remain largely out of the public eye, he wants to make sure veterans and military members know they still have his support.

    "I was a little concerned that our veterans don't think that I still respect them and care for them a lot," Bush told the AP. He added later, "There's nothing as courageous in my judgment as someone who had a leg blown off in combat overcoming the difficulties."

    Bush is hosting next week's Warrior Open golf tournament in suburban Dallas, an event featuring members of the U.S. Armed Forces wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including those who lost limbs and suffered brain injuries. Bush joined more than a dozen wounded military members in the Warrior 100 - a 62-mile mountain bike ride he hosted in West Texas last spring.
    I really shouldn’t give Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History credit for anything here, but I suppose what he’s doing is literally better than nothing.

    But as far as supposedly “supporting the troops” is concerned, let’s recall the following from here (about Jim Nicholson, Number 43’s former head of the VA, as reported by Joe Conason)…
    In contrast to the four most recent VA heads--who had previously held leadership positions with Disabled American Veterans, the Department of Defense, a state-level VA department, and VA itself--Jim Nicholson brings a refreshing lack of experience to veterans' advocacy (note: this is a decidedly tongue-in-cheek remark...)

    In Bush's first term, Nicholson was rewarded with the ambassadorship to the Holy See. But he traded vespers for vets last February, joining his brother John, who was already head of the National Cemetery Administration. In June (2005), he admitted that VA had underestimated the number of veterans who would be seeking medical treatment this year by nearly 80,000 because it had failed to take into account the surge in enrollment by veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts--13,700 of whom have suffered blown-off limbs, bullet wounds, and the like. The miscalculation was a surprise to Congress, since Nicholson had written on April 5: "I can assure you that VA does not need [additional money] to continue to provide timely, quality service." Republican House Appropriations Committee Chair Jerry Lewis said VA's failure to identify the problem and notify Congress earlier "borders on stupidity."
    Oh, and did I point out that about 26 million Social Security numbers of our veterans somehow went missing, more or less, around Memorial Day Weekend in 2006, creating a rather significant data breach?

    And do you want more evidence as to how much Former President Nutball “supported the troops?” As Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated here in 2009, the “stop-loss” policy under Bushco, which basically amounted to a back-door draft, constituted “breaking faith” with our men and women in uniform.

    I guess this is what you would expect from a guy who said here he was envious of our service people because he thought war was “romantic” (and based on this, I would say that those who were sent off to war are telling Former Commander Codpiece what they think of his “support”).

    Update: Uh, yep.
  • Sunday, October 09, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    I realize that Bill Maher first and foremost is an entertainer, and he has to cater to conservatives also from time to time, even though he frequently articulates liberal, Democratic positions and beliefs quite well. However, I truly cannot understand why he continues to give a platform to that washed up, dried out glibertarian sot P.J. O'Rourke, who hasn't spoken or written anything even vaguely amusing for about 20 years.

    That is why I am so pleased to provide this clip of former Dem U.S. House Rep Alan Grayson giving O'Rourke the smack-down he deserves over O'Rourke's put-downs of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters (and I'm so glad Grayson didn't do it in a chuckling, "oh, P.J., you rascal," candy-ass kind of way that Maher did a bit at the end...not that I would have expected anything less from Grayson - more here)...

    ...and boy, assuming supporters of Sarah Palin have any kind of mental sensory apparatus to begin with - well, they should feel pretty damned used, and stupid to boot, as Jon Stewart explains (here)...

    ...and harking back to OWS, happy birthday wishes go out to two individuals who know (and knew) a thing or two about protests - first, JB...

    ...and this guy (and as for Yoko, I have no idea).

    Update: And here's a bonus, by the way - who says I never touch on hot-button "cultural" issues?