Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last Call

A federal judge has found accused Rep. Gabby Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner mentally unfit to stand trial.

The ruling will send Loughner to a federal facility – most likely the one in Missouri where he was originally evaluated – to see if he can be restored to competency, the Associated Press reports. In the event that he remains unfit to stand trial, Loughner is expected to remain in a federal psychiatric facility and will not be set free.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns issued the ruling based on written mental evaluations submitted by a pair of mental health experts. The Arizona Daily Star reports that according to the experts, Loughner is unable to help with his defense because of his “irrational distrust of lawyers,” and that he “doesn’t understand the system and the role played by everyone.”
The ruling came shortly after Loughner had to be removed from the courtroom after an outburst. “Thank you for the freak show,” Loughner told the judge, according to the Daily Star. “She died in front of me.”
It is important to note that the incompetency finding is different than a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity. Wednesday's ruling is not a reflection of what the court thinks Loughner’s mental state was at the time of the shooting. Instead, it means that the court believes that the defendant is not mentally equipped to understand the charges against him and help his lawyer’s argue in his defense.
Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 49 federal charges related to the Jan. 8 shooting at a public event in Giffords’s home district. Among those killed were a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. If convicted, Loughner could face the death penalty.

I'm not sure if I agree with this at all.  In fact, I believe Loughner knew exactly what he was doing at the time and deserves at minimum the rest of his life in prison..  But that's not my call, nor will it ever be.

Odds are dim that Loughner will even face a trial now, and will remain in a psychiatric facility for the rest of his natural life.  Cold comfort to the victims or their families, but not entirely unexpected, either.

Kabuki Time On Couponcare

Senate Democrats forced a vote on the GOP plan to end Medicare, and for the most part the Republicans walked right into the jet engine intake.

The final vote on the proposal originated by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was 57-40, mostly along party lines. Republicans who joined the majority Democrats in opposing the measure were Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.

Three senators didn't vote -- Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York.

It's one thing to see the "GOP moderates" run away from this bill, but entirely another to see Rand Paul vote the plan to end Medicare down, no doubt because it doesn't cut enough programs for his Galtian sensibilities.

Still, that's 40 Republican senators who want to do away with Medicare and replace it with coupons and hope that the private insurance sector will somehow cover seniors.  Dems, 2012 is being handed to you on a plate.

All but 4 House Republicans and all but 7 Senate Republicans voted to end Medicare.  This isn't the Ryan plan anymore.  This is the GOP plan, and they have to be made to take the political consequences at the voting booth.

Joe Sonka notes a number of Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2012 who voted to end Medicare:  Roger Wicker, Dean Heller, Jon Kyl, Bob Corker, and should he survive his primary, Dick Lugar.  Jon Kyl especially is in trouble I would think, peeing on the Medicare third rail in a heavily senior state like Arizona.  Same goes for Dean Heller in Nevada.  As Joe said, all these races should now be on the Dems radar, and the time to organize and attack on this issue is now.

Aqua Net Blunder Force Colon The Moosey

Coming soon to a theater near youAtlas Shrugged II: Eclectic Galt Igloo The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Sarah Palin The Distinguished Gentlemoose Narcissus In Pumps The Sarah Palin Story By Sarah Palin With Sarah Palin Also Too Starring Sarah Palin As "Sarah Palin":

Shortly after Republicans swept last November to a historic victory in which Sarah Palin was credited with playing a central role, the former Alaska governor pulled aside her close aide, Rebecca Mansour, to discuss a hush-hush assignment: Reach out to conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a request. Ask him if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin's governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.

The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He'd make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself -- to the tune of $1 million.

The fruits of that initial conversation are now complete. The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska's most famous couple has been rumored to have purchased a new home. When it premieres in Iowa next month, the film is poised to serve as a galvanizing prelude to Palin's prospective presidential campaign -- an unconventional reintroduction to the nation that she and her political team have spent months eagerly anticipating, even as Beltway Republicans have largely concluded that she won't run.

A Night At The Mooseum II:  Battle For Des Moines is going to  As some sort of medium to convey a message.  In this case, that Sarah Palin is a product so act now while supplies last.

But remember, Obama was an arrogant narcissist who surrounded himself with his messianic cult of personality, and that's totally different from releasing a movie about yourself.

The Lessons Of NY-26

Kathy Hochul, the Democrat, won last night in this special election over Republican Jane Corwin and Tea Party spoiler Jack Davis.

On Tuesday, she captured 47 percent of the vote to Ms. Corwin’s 43 percent, according to unofficial results. A Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, had 9 percent.

Voters, who turned out in strikingly large numbers for a special election, said they trusted Ms. Hochul, the county clerk of Erie County, to protect Medicare.

“I have almost always voted the party line,” said Gloria Bolender, a Republican from Clarence who is caring for her 80-year-old mother. “This is the second time in my life I’ve voted against my party.”

Pat Gillick, a Republican from East Amherst, who also cast a ballot for Ms. Hochul, said, “The privatization of Medicare scares me.”

For the Democrat to get 47% in a district like NY-26 is amazing.  Without Davis around, I think this would have been a recount-worthy vote, because someone would have won 50-49.  Hochul pounded the Medicare message and won, despite being outspent 2-1 by the Republicans.  The Republicans spent a lot of money trashing Davis, but it wasn't enough...not with the GOP plan to privatize Medicare.

The lesson?  Hey Democrats:  defend Medicare and you'll win.

TBogg notes that Jonah Goldberg yesterday morning called on Paul Ryan to run for President on the "strength" of being the author of the GOP's Medicare plan.  Yep, the plan is so wonderful it cost the Republicans a district they had held for 43 years.  By all means, let Paul Ryan run for President.

On the other hand Steve M. sees Republicans changing the subject to Israel, as I predicted they would earlier this week.

Meanwhile, I think Republicans' equivalent to the Ryan budget is the Obama-Netanyahu dust-up, and I worry that, while we may not still be able to get an electoral benefit from the Ryan vote in the House eighteen months from now, Republicans will have the skills to use their distortion of Obama's "1967 borders" remark to peel off a few normally Democratic pro-Israel Jewish voters in key states, along with swing voters who can be terrified on foreign policy and "security." (I'm linking the two because last night, when I was waiting for results from NY-26, I switched over from MSNBC to Fox News and there, on Hannity, was Netanyahu himself. At least this week, he's their hero, their Paul Ryan.)

Count on this.  Anything to get the news cycle off Medicare, Paul Ryan, and the loss in NY-26.  Expect this and the debt ceiling to continue to play a huge role in the Republican message of "we must do what we want or die."  Doug J at Balloon Juice argues that...gasp...the GOP might have learned something.

Republicans are lucky they lost the NY-26 special election tonight, because now they’ll back up off of it and sit their cup down. Make no mistake, though, the decision to vote the Ryan plan through the House was the stupidest political decision of our generation. Stupid because it was pointless—it would never become law—and stupid because it probably costs Republicans 10+ seats in the House. You don’t give up ten seats to accomplish nothing.

I disagree.  If the GOP response to the Joplin tornado is any indication, they'll exponentially keep upping the bet, doubling down again and again, until any American who takes government help for anything -- Social Security, Medicare, disaster relief, schools, libraries, anything at all, mind you -- becomes the new Enemy of the People.  We have to destroy the social safety net in order to save it for those who really need it...but you and your family wouldn't be one of "them" would they?  They will declare taxation is theft, government services are slavery, and you're not one of "those" people, are you?

Say It Ain't So, Mario

Google Chrome apps are amazing.  They are convenient, mostly bug free and can be fun.  Of course, someone has to ruin that.  It appears there is a Super Mario Bros clone that reads all the user's data, including web history, pages that are currently open, and other sensitive data including location.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for the Finnish security firm F-Secure, told SecurityNewsDaily that he believes these rogue-looking "Super Mario" apps are not fraudulent, but rather cases of "aggressive marketing" designed to profile "your online use so they can market to you better."
Market to us?  But what if we don't want that?  This isn't an option for players, and it's downright sneaky to give any app hidden portals into your information.  There is no disclosure or fair notification. 

It doesn't take much certification to get an app in Google's Chrome Web Store. Developers are required to a pay a one-time $5 registration fee "in order to verify developer accounts and better protect users against fraudulent activity," Google writes in a Chrome Web store blog.

"We don't make a habit out of commenting on individual apps," a Google spokesperson told SecurityNewsDaily in an email. "That said, we can ask our teams to investigate this one, and we will take the appropriate action in accordance with our policies."

The Google spokesperson added, "By making user rating and reviews available for all apps in the store, we believe the community will also flag these apps, either for removal, or with poor ratings."

If Google wants to win over consumers, maybe they should start the trend of investigating the apps that they market, instead of putting the responsibility on users who do not understand what these security breaches can do. If they are going to let them run under their name and on their product, there is a certain amount of responsibility.  And while one comment says that Windows doesn't inspect all Windows apps, the difference between an operating system and a browser are profound, and we should all expect better ethics than those shown by Microsoft, who shamelessly sells out their customers for convenience and "marketing opportunities."

Read All About It

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Barnes & Noble Inc unveiled a new e-reader on Tuesday that features a touch screen, weighs less than a paperback book and has a battery life of two months -- features designed to help it compete with Inc and Apple Inc.
Barnes & Noble's introduction of a new Nook comes just days after John Malone's Liberty Media Corp offered to buy the bookstore chain for $1 billion. Liberty Media, which has pursued a strategy in recent years to snap up cheap media-related assets, is said to be pursuing the takeover bid because of its desire to acquire the Nook franchise.
I'm excited.  I am likely to pick one up soon, and I will be blogging a detailed review.  I have a few projects I want to try, and I will detail my successes (or failures) here.  In the meantime, if any of you have or use Nook, what do you think?

TOPM Versus Elizabeth Warren

The douchebag Republican in charge of oversight on the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Elizabeth Warren running it is our old friend, The Odious Patrick McHenry.  Here's what he had to say to Warren today in an oversight hearing on the CFPB

Testimony by White House consumer adviser Elizabeth Warren before a House subcommittee broke down into acrimony when the panel's Republican chairman accused her of lying about the terms of her appearance.
Warren testified on Tuesday before a House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform panel about her efforts to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency Republicans and Wall Street do not like and want to gut.
The hearing focused on disputes over the scope of the agency's power, but her appearance ended in heated wrangling over how long she would testify.
About an hour into the hearing Republicans sought to temporarily adjourn for votes. Warren objected to sticking around for more questions upon their return, saying her afternoon was packed with meetings and that the committee had agreed she would only stay an hour.
"Congressman, we had an agreement," she told Republican subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry after some back-and-forth.
"You had no agreement, you are making this up, Ms. Warren," McHenry responded.
The committee's lead Democrat, Elijah Cummings, jumped in, telling McHenry, "I'm trying to be cordial here, you just accused the lady of lying."

Like Republicans give a damn.  And what really galls me is that having grown up in NC-10, I can tell you that these are hard-working furniture factory folks, working in what's left of North Carolina's rapidly dwindling manufacturing base.  The textile mills and the GE transformer plant were killed by NAFTA.  The fiber optic cable plants here are next.

When the dot-com boom was going strong in 1998-1999, unemployment was literally 2% in Catawba County.  When that bubble went unemployment jumped to near 10% in 2002.   We got things down to 5% or so in 2008, but when the financial crisis hit the unemployment in the county tripled to 15% by June 2009.  It's 11-12% now and will stay above 10% for a very, very long time.

This is the prime example of what Republican economic practices did to America and why America needs the CFPB.  But Patrick McHenry is going to do everything he can to hand over as much power as possible to the banks that wrecked our economy.

Someone should point out that unemployment in NC-10 has more than doubled on average since Patrick McHenry took office in 2007.  In January 2000 the unemployment rate for the district was about 2.5%  In January 2010 it was 16.5%.  And yet Republicans have been in charge of NC-10 since 1969.

Go figure.
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