Friday, February 4, 2011

Last Call

Yeah, see, now things are getting downright scary in Cairo.

Al Jazeera's office in Cairo was stormed by a "gang of thugs" and set on fire along with all the equipment inside it, the Arab news network said Friday.

"It appears to be the latest attempt by the Egyptian regime or its supporters to hinder Al Jazeera's coverage of events in the country," the news network said in a statement.

"In the last week its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages. Al Jazeera has also faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal as well as persistent and repeated attempts to bring down its websites."

"We are grateful for the support we have received from across the world for our coverage in Egypt and can assure everyone that we will continue our work undeterred," the statement added.

Al Jazaeera also said its website "has been under relentless attack since the onset of the uprisings in Egypt." A banner advertisment on the news network's Arabic-language website was hacked Friday and replaced with a slogan reading, "Together for the collapse of Egypt." The banner linked to a page critical of the network.

The international free press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said there appears to be "an all-out witch-hunt against news media" in Egypt.

Just remember thatas much as I give our media a hard time, there are a lot worse things you can do to even a corporate press, and a lot worse places to try to discuss the news from than an armchair in front of a computer.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Another day, another gobsmacking example of the staggeringly ignorant people running this country.

A fun nugget buried in this story about Rep. Ann Buerkle's (R-NY) first town hall meeting as an elected member of Congress. Constituents repeatedly asked a puzzled Buerkle about her health benefits. She couldn't figure out why. But her staff sure could.
Buerkle, who voted to repeal the health care reform act, was twice asked about the health insurance she receives as a government employee. At first she said she couldn't understand why people were so interested in her health insurance, and that taxpayers didn't pay anything for it. She later corrected herself after being handed a note from a staffer. Like most employees, she pays for a portion of her insurance and her employer, the government, pays the rest, she said.

Buerkle's argument was her health insurance was "employer-provided".  She just forgot who her employer was, apparently.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it's not that Republicans are simply ignoring the half of the facts that make their positions constitute blatant hypocrisy, it's that they really don't know what the hell is going on, because asking questions and going outside the talking points only gets you punished.

Ignorance, in other words, is bliss.

Brave Enough To Make Them Suffer

Via Greg Sargent I see my junior GOP Senator Rand Paul isn't too happy with his fellow Republicans about not wanting to fully embrace his $500 billion Galtian torture package massive draconian spending cuts "compassionate conservatism".  Of course, that means everyone has to feel the pain, and I mean everyone:

Paul has proposed his own plan to cut spending by $500 billion this year. Paul's plan would impose deep across-the-board spending cuts -- including a reduction of 83 percent from the Department of Education, 6 percent from the Department of Defense and the elimination all foreign aid. He considers it just a start.

"I go to a tea party and you know what they say to me? It's not enough. It's not enough. Where's the other trillion you need?" Paul said.

Paul defended his call to end to all foreign aid -- including the $3 billion the U.S. gives to Israel every year.
"I'm not singling out Israel. I support Israel. I want to be known as a friend of Israel," Paul said, "but not with money you don't have. We can't just borrow from our kids' future and give it to countries even if they are our friends."

Paul has come under fire from supporters of Israel, but said Israel has enough financial resources to fend for itself.

"I think they're an important ally, but I also think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world," Paul said. "Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don't think so."

And military resources, as well.

"I think they're probably 10 years ahead of any neighboring country," he said. "I think that their defense is very significant and probably well in advance of any of their particular enemies." 

Yeah, see,  I'm wondering how long it's going to take before Israel decides they aren't too happy with Rand Paul and that he needs to get with the program.  I put the over/under on that at March 15 or so.  If Paul was a Democrat he'd be getting hammered, but even Israel's staunchest American allies aren't going to go after a Senate Republican without heavy bipartisan backup.

Still, I can't say I 100% disagree with him on the issue of military aid and defense spending cuts, and getting out of Afghanistan.  It's the other, oh, 97%+ cuts or so I have a problem with.  Like defunding the entire Department of Education outside of Pell Grants...and capping those.

Nullification And Void

Despite a 150 years of legal precedent since the Civil War, Arizona State Senate President Russel Pearce (the same meathead behind the state's unconstitutional immigration law) is dredging up the practice of nullification again, proving that the Constitution apparently means whatever Russel Pearce says it means.

Members of the Arizona Legislature, led by Republican Senate President Russell Pearce, have introduced a bill that attempts to grant the state the power to ignore federal laws it does not want to comply with. 
If passed and signed into law, Senate Bill 1433 would create a 12-member committee within the state legislature with the power to review and recommend to the full Legislature laws they think are unconstitutional. 
 The full Legislature would then have the power to nullify the federal statute by a majority vote.

"The committee shall recommend, propose and call for a vote by simple majority to nullify in its entirety a specific federal law or regulation that is outside the scope of the powers delegated by the People to the federal government in the United States Constitution," the bill reads. "The committee shall make its recommendation within thirty days after receiving the federal legislation for consideration and process."

According to the bill, "no authority has ever been given to the legislative branch, the executive branch or the judicial branch of the federal government to preempt state legislation."

The legality of the proposed legislation is questionable, as it runs counter to Article VI, Clause 2 and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which have been interpreted as making federal law trump state law.

Article VI of the Constitution, commonly known as the Supremacy Clause, states that, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

Likewise, in a set of decisions that has come to be known as the "incorporation doctrine", the Supreme Court of the United States routinely ruled that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment prevents state and local governments from violating most provisions of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.

No authority given over state legislation, except for, you know, Article VI.  You know, if Arizona doesn't want to play ball being one of the United States, well there's history there.  South Carolina tried this back in 1832, and by 1833 (and after a Congressional resolution authorizing President Andrew Jackson to use military force against the state) South Carolina relented.

But the concept of nullification isn't just limited to Arizona.  Idaho wingers want out of Obamacare citing the 10th Amendment as justification for pretty much ignoring whatever federal laws they don't like (which is basically all of them).  A couple other states, including Texas, are waiting to see how Idaho and Arizona's nullification bills turn out.  Even Idaho's Attorney General has said...twice now...that the issue of nullification has been decided and that the judicial branch will eat this legislation alive.

But it doesn't matter.  The point here is to make people hate the Federal government, at least one that allows Democrats to control parts of it.  An all Republican government, well somehow I'm betting these clowns wouldn't have any problem with that.

Snow Way!

Okay, this was also too cool not to share.  In Minnesota, some enterprising folks built a snow fort, complete with fire and other amazing bits.  They decided people shut themselves off too much in the winter, and this has already encouraged neighbors to come hang out and do a little meet and greet.  There was a lot of work put into this, and just to bring people out and enjoy themselves and the weather.

"... snow dome, high enough to stand in, is technically known as a quinzhee. It's adorned with a vented fireplace, candle alcoves and patio furniture."

Pro-Marijuana Supporters Turn Out In High Numbers

By a 3-to-1 margin, opponents outnumbered supporters of a bill Wednesday that would repeal Montana’s 2004 voter-passed law legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the state.
At issue before the House Human Services Committee was House Bill 161, by House Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade.  The preliminary count of people signed up to speak showed 86 opponents and 28 supporters of the bill. The committee took no immediate action on the vote.

Supporters have finally figured out that they actually have to turn up and do something instead of just talk.  And when that happens, the majority view suddenly changes.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.  But I believe hungry states and the realization that the war on drugs has been milked for all it's worth will begin the inevitable progression towards medicinal marijuana, and eventually legalizing it altogether.

You Gotta Have Faith

President Obama gave a major speech on his faith -- Christian faith, for those of you in the "cement-headed ignorance" department -- at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, but hardly anyone notices that President Obama is a deeply spiritual man.

President Barack Obama gave an unusually personal speech about his religious faith on Thursday, saying that "it is the biblical injunction to serve the least of these that keeps me going and keeps me from being overwhelmed," in address to a prayer breakfast in Washington.

The speech, delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast, comes on the heels of public opinion surveys that show only a minority of Americans know that Obama is a Christian and that a growing number believe he's a Muslim.

"My Christian faith has been sustaining for me over the last couple of years and even more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time," the president said Thursday, referring to his wife. "We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but that we are true to our conscience and true to our God."

"When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, I ask him to give me the strength to do right by our country and our people," Obama said later. "And when I go to bed at night, I wait on the Lord and I ask him to forgive me my sins and to look after my family and to make me an instrument of the Lord."

The address was televised and streamed live on the White House website.

The White House denied that the speech is a response to public misperceptions about Obama's religion.

I honestly don't know why they bothered to deny that point, because anyone who is dead certain he's a Muslim won't believe it anyway, and the rest of us know better.

Has any President's religious views and faith ever come under attack the way Barack Obama's faith has?

Here's video of his remarks.

Again, Obama has said time and time again that his faith has shaped him.  Any Republican, this would be a matter of fact in the court of public opinion, but a Democrat, well...

[UPDATE]  What Steve M. said.   Obama Derangement Syndrome at its finest.


Finally, some good news on the jobless front...sort of, as the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 9.0%.

U.S. employment rose far less than expected in January, partly the result of severe snow storms that slammed large parts of the nation, but the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since April 2009.

Nonfarm payrolls grew just 36,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, far less than the 145,000 increase that economists had expected.

The government noted that severe weather could have affected construction payrolls, which dropped 32,000 last month. There were also large declines in the employment of couriers and messengers.

What this means of course is a crapload of Americans dropped out of the job market.  If you take out these "seasonal adjustments" the jobless rate jumped in January from December with both the U-3 and U-6 up a whopping seven-tenths of a percent, the U-6 literally erased half the gains made in the year since January of 2010 in just one month.

In other words, yeah, the job report is actually full of crap.  If the unadjusted rate is +0.7% and the adjusted rate is -0.4%, the adjustment itself is suspect.

[UPDATE] As is suspected, yeah, the non-labor force numbers bear that out.  Some 2.3 million people left the workforce pool in the last 12 months, and I'm betting quite a bit of it happened last month.  More and more Americans have given up on finding work again.  If we count the long-term discouraged numbers, the U-6 is close to 23-25%.

In The Name Of The Mother, The Daughter, And The Moosey Trademark

Seems Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol are eager to redefine the concept of the "political brand name" by turning it into an actual one.

The Palin brand is so valuable, that other family members are in on it. Sarah Palin's 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a well-compensated spokeswomen on sexual abstinence for the Candie's Foundation, has become a reality star in her own right on "Dancing with the Stars" and may land a job as a radio show host in Arizona.

And these savvy women are taking all the prudent steps a brand holder does to protect an asset. In the last several months, Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark "Sarah Palin®" and "Bristol Palin®."

According to patent office application (serial # 85170226), Van Flein registered for a trademark of "Sarah Palin" on Nov. 5, 2010 -- three days after the midterm elections. The government trademark examining attorney has "found no conflicting marks that would bar registration." In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark.

A "Bristol Palin" application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin's stint with "Dancing With the Stars" premiered on Sept. 20.

Celebrities often trademark their names to protect their image or brand from others who might try to cash in on their likeness or use their name in an inappropriate way.

But...but she's not a celebrity!  She's a serious politician!  Right?

Look folks, I have no problem with Palin trading on her name as a celebrity, that what the US is all about.  But let's stop pretending this woman is going to end up President barring anything short of a biblical disaster.  President Trademark?  Really?  And Obama supposedly had a cult of personality?



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