Saturday, March 5, 2011

Last Call

I don't normally disagree with Dave Neiwert, but I think he's pretty much dead wrong about this FOX News spat between BillO and Moose Lady.

It's hard to say why it happened, but all of a sudden Bill O'Reilly decided last night to stop tossing Sarah Palin the usual softball questions and Hannity Jobs she's become accustomed to during her tenure at Fox News. He asked her to finally get specific instead of bloviating in vague generalities about where and how she's achieve the budget cuts she's calling for.

It's not hard to say why it happened at all.  FOX controlled all the variables here and while at first blush it does look like Sister Sarah is being prepared for Under-Bus Throwage, it seems unusually ham-handed for Roger Ailes's outfit.

What this smells like is a setup, to give FOX supporters and Palin supporters something to point to when the accusations of hand-holding by the network come roaring out the minute Palin announces her 2012 run.  Everyone agrees that Palin isn't ready right now.  I think this is part of Roger Ailes's plan to remedy that.

Look for more of these "not-so-softball" interviews ahead.  It's not like the bar has to be set high for what qualifies as a "tougher" interview for Palin.  As long as she doesn't trip over said bar when she's making a big production of gingerly stepping over it and doesn't burst into flame while doing so, she advances her narrative.

Eliza Doolittle, meet Henry Higgins.

I'll Have Crazy, Hold The Mustard, And A Koch

I'm not sure what's more frightening on this whole David Koch/Scott Walker/Buffalo Beast prank call "identity theft" story, the theory that billionaire David Koch can't find any better lawyers than Col. Mustard and is actually soliciting his legal advice, or the theory that billionaire David Koch has hundreds of better lawyers at his disposal and he's still running with this.

Conservative billionaire David Koch says the Gonzo journalist who impersonated him in a recent prank call heard across the nation may be guilty of identity theft.

"It's a case of identity theft," Koch told the New York Times in a rare interview Friday. "I didn’t even know his name before this brouhaha erupted."

Identity theft is a serious crime, but it's unclear whether a prank call falls under the category -- the concept typically refers to assuming someone's identity to make purchases or commit crimes, according to the Justice Department.

In the widely-publicized call whose audio was published, Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy spoke to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for 20 minutes while pretending to be Koch, discussing the high-profile clash with public employee unions and offering to help the governor.

The real Koch joked to the paper he was surprised Walker took even took the call.

"I was thinking to myself, 'My God, if I called up a senator or a congressman to discuss something with them, and they heard 'David Koch is on the line,' they’d immediately say, 'That’s that fraud again — tell him to get lost!'" he said.

Nice, he throws Walker under the bus to boot.  The Koch Brothers have the whole Lex Luthor thing down cold.  Really hard to dislike a guy when he's throwing a cancer research center at you.

Seriously, we're going to go with identity theft here?  Fire your legal team, Koch.  Buy a new one.  Trust me.

Brewer-ing Up Her Own Army

Yeah, see, I'm wondering what the reaction would be by Tea Party "patriots" if a Democrat-controlled state legislature was pushing a bill to create a Governor's own army, separate from the National Guard, taxpayer-funded, and beholden only to the state's Chief Executive.

But that's exactly what Arizona Republicans are doing.

Arizona’s GOP-run legislature has taken to marginalizing and villainizing the immigrant population with zeal — be it through SB 1070, HB 2191, or SB 1070 “on steroids.” Now, the Pheonix New Times reports that state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-AZ) is pushing a bill to give Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) a “blank check to establish a ‘state guard’ that would do her bidding, whatever that bidding might be.”

Allen’s SB 1495 not only establishes a “state guard” independent of the national guard and finances that guard with national guard funding, but it allows Brewer to created this “Armed force” for “any [] reason the governor considers to be necessary”:
Section 1. Section 26-174, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
Arizona state guard; establishment; purpose; appropriations
A. If the national guard of Arizona or a major portion thereof is called into active federal service, or if the national guard or a major portion thereof is alerted for federal service or for any other reason the governor considers to be necessary, the governor may establish an armed force for the safety and protection of the lives and property of the citizens of the state which shall be known as the Arizona state guard.
B. The Arizona state guard shall insofar as practicable be governed by and subject to the laws of the state pertaining to the national guard. The governor shall issue or cause to be issued rules and regulations to govern administration and organization of the state guard.
C. Appropriations made to the national guard shall be deemed appropriated to both the national guard and the Arizona state guard, if and when the latter organization is established, and any funds which that are unexpended from appropriations to the national guard may be used for establishment and maintenance of the Arizona state guard.

I seem to recall scary claims from fringe groups that Obama and Democrats were supposedly creating private armies to come round up dissident, take their guns, and put them in concentration camps.  Apparently Arizona Republicans became so obsessed with that, they're deciding they need to do it first.

To recap, this is a taxpayer funded state militia that answers only to the Governor, can be used for whatever reason the Governor sees fit, and the Governor gets to make the rules and laws regarding the state guard.  Our own domestic terrorist problem is thrilled with this and are eager to join up, as the day is coming closer where states will apparently sanction their violent views.

You can bet these guys are itching to use deadly force to "defend the border" and to use taxpayer funds and national guard equipment to do it with.

What could possibly go wrong?

Never Give Up

"He said a guy had fallen on the sidewalk," Al Lodermeier says. At that moment, Don Shulte, owner of the grocery store, walked in. The three ran back to where Snitzer lay on the sidewalk. He wasn't breathing. He had no pulse. If he didn't get help soon, he would die.
For the next 96 minutes — more than an hour and a half — Al, his brother Roy, bystander Candace Koehn, who saw Snitzer fall, and more than two dozen other first responders took turns performing CPR on the fallen man. Their teamwork saved Snitzer's life, in what may be one of the longest, successful out-of-hospital resuscitations ever.

Besides being a good story, there's a couple of things to think about.  First, this is what we should do when someone collapses.  Second, CPR is an evolving practice.  For example, little pigtail Bonnie was watching cartoons when a public service message came on showing CPR basics.  "Hey Mom, wouldn't blowing into lungs full of water just make it worse?" Twenty years later, someone decided that same thing, and the guidelines have changed.  Mouth to mouth has also been removed from CPR in general.  We owe it as a public obligation to know the basics and stay up to date, and to use them whenever we can help.  And, of course, never give up.

Sometimes The Old Jokes Are The Best

(Reuters Legal) - A banana peel, the torment of many a cartoon character, has allegedly become the real-life downfall of a woman in California.

Feeling the store was unreasonable in refusing to accept a $44,000 settlement, and claims over $9,000 in medical bills, Ida Valentine has continued her suit for justice.

Oh.  Well, there's your joke.

Never Thought I'd Type These Words, But...

CNBC's Rick "Tea Party" Santelli actually has a point and it's even grounded in actual economic data as he discusses yesterday's jobless rate numbers dropping to 8.9%.

Upon closer scrutiny though, there is another factor contributing to the drop that is not necessarily good news: The official size of the U.S. labor force is shrinking.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the “Labor Force Participation Rate” each month, along with a litany of other metrics that are used to give us the headline jobs number and the unemployment rate. 

The government's definition of the labor force is all individuals 16 years of age and older, who are employed or seeking employment. It does not include students; retirees; anyone with unreported income, or "discouraged" workers. 

The participation rate is the comparison of the "labor force," those looking for work or employed, and everyone else. That ratio is currently 64.2 percent seasonally adjusted, and 63.9 percent non-seasonally adjusted, the same level as last month. Both of those percentages are currently running at 27-year lows, meaning the percentage of Americans not working or even trying to join the work force is at a near three-decade high

The last time the participation rate was above 66 percent — the 10-year average — was in August 2008. 

And he's right.  The reason the unemployment rate had dropped 1.1% in 3 months is pretty simple:  a couple million Americans went from "unemployed" to "no longer attached to the labor force".

In other words, millions of unemployed Americans are now classified as "no longer looking for work" so they don't count in the unemployment rate.  At the traditional average of 66% labor force participation, the unemployment rate in this country would be over 11%, folks.

We're still deep in the heart of this recession.  It's just that several million people are no longer playing the game.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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