Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Last Call

CNN is taking the axe to Eliott Spitzer's show at 8 PM.

Announcing its fall TV schedule on Wednesday, CNN said that starting August 8, Anderson Cooper's nightly news program AC360 will air in the slot now occupied by Spitzer's "In the Arena".

Spitzer, who debuted his new show on CNN in October 2010 with Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, was not mentioned in the line-up. Parker left the show in February after disappointing ratings, and the show was revamped with Spitzer continuing as the main contributor.

No reason was given for the decision to drop "In the Arena" but the program is the lowest-rated primetime show on CNN and continues to languish below the audiences for rival cable news shows on Fox News, MSNBC and HLN.

Not mentioned:  the fact that Olbermann is doing very well at his new home on Current TV and the fact that he was beating Spitzer too.  Don't blame CNN.  It's not like Spitzer was very good at his job, nor did I ever feel the need to watch the show in the first place.

Faces In The Crowd

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg struck back at Google's new Plus service with the announcement of video chat coming to Facebook.

Facebook announced a video-calling feature on Wednesday in partnership with Skype, the popular Internet video-chat provider.

The move comes a week after Google launched a competing social network, called Google+, which also includes a video-chatting program.

Facebook's new chat feature will show up on the site as a "call" button at the top of users' profile pages. By clicking that button or finding someone in a new "buddy list" sidebar, Facebook users can talk to each other via webcams. The company began turning that service on for millions of users on Wednesday and will add it to more accounts over time, as it commonly does for new features.

This is "the world's easiest one-click way" to chat over video, Facebook engineer Philip Su said at the news conference here. The Seattle programmer was Facebook's only full-time engineer working on development, along with Skype, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Can't ever accuse Zuckerberg and his company of being slow to the table with their incessant need to be "liked" by consumers.  The partnership with Skype is a smart move and a natural upgrade to the next step in communication among friends.  Whether or not it's a solid business move, I'm not convinced.

But Google has it, so a week later Facebook has it.  Maybe he felt Facebook didn't have a choice.

Some Votes Count More Than Others

And one-party Republican rule in Ohio continues, with the goal being to make voting as difficult as possible in order to disenfranchise as many poor and elderly voters as they can.  The latest effort in the Buckeye State involves sins of omission.

Last week, the GOP-led House passed an election law overhaul without the highly restrictive voter ID provision. However, the House tweaked the bill to weaken a law mandating poll workers to direct voters in the wrong precinct to their correct voting location. Under the new language, a poll worker need not direct a voter to where they are eligible, adding that “it is the duty of the individual casting the ballot to ensure that the individual is casting that ballot in the correct precinct.” 

Some 14,000 votes in Ohio were thrown out in 2008 because of incorrect voting precinct locations, and the vast majority happened in urban centers, including a quarter of those incorrect votes happening in Cuyahoga County up in Cleveland.  But Ohio's GOP specifically weakened that provision in their overhaul bill.  They're quite happy with disenfranchising several thousand voters, because they are traditionally Democratic ones.  Digby sums it up:

Chalk this up to another victory by the decades long GOP Vote Suppression Project. These guys will just keep chipping away until it's perfectly legal to vote for a Democrat but it's really, really difficult for that vote to count. Kind of like getting an abortion in Kansas.

Party of smaller, less intrusive government, my ass.

Duke Of Hurl

Finally, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate who understands exactly what the Tea Party is all about and isn't afraid to say it...David Duke!

Add to the growing list of candidates considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 America’s most famous white-power advocate: David Duke.
A former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Republican executive-committee chairman in his district until 2000, Duke has a significant following online. His videos go viral. This month, he’s launching a tour of 25 states to explore how much support he can garner for a potential presidential bid. He hasn’t considered running for serious office since the early '90s, when he won nearly 40 percent of the vote in his bid for Louisiana governor. But like many “white civil rights advocates,” as he describes himself to The Daily Beast, 2012 is already shaping up to be a pivotal year.

Oh yeah.  Why screw around with dilettante dog-whistle racism when you can drag out the Mighty Racism Wurlitzer and plug it into a stack of amps the size of FOX News?  And the best part?  "Get the filthy darkie" as your main campaign plank means David Duke's not running alone.  Oh goodness no.

Former (and current) Neo Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Confederates, and other representatives of the many wings of the “white nationalist” movement are starting to file paperwork and print campaign literature for offices large and small, pointing to rising unemployment, four years with an African-American president, and rampant illegal immigration as part of a growing mound of evidence that white people need to take a stand.

Most aren’t winning—not yet. But they’re drawing levels of support that surprise and alarm groups that keep tabs on the white-power movement (members prefer the terms “racial realist” or “white nationalist”). In May, the National Socialist Movement’s Jeff Hall hit national headlines in a bizarre tragedy: his murder, allegedly at the hands of his 10-year-old son. But before his death, he had campaigned for a low-level water board position in Riverside, California. The swastika-wearing plumber who patrolled the U.S. border paramilitary-style walked away with almost 30 percent of his community’s vote. “That’s a sizable amount of the vote for a person running openly as a Neo Nazi,” says Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.  While Hall’s political future—and life—has been cut short, Mayo points out that we should expect more white supremacist hopefuls next year.

Buckle up, America. The folks who believe the Republicans lost to Obama because they weren't racist enough are going for broke, and we've still got miles to go before we sleep.  The gloves are off and the assholes are coming.  But hey, that's not enough to to prove there's any racism here to Counselor Mustard, Attorney-At-Flaw.

Ah yes, the David Duke card gets played.

Duke is an anti-Semitic kook who is far more likely in recent years to be hobnobbing with anti-Israel European leftists and Islamists than with anyone associated with the Republican Party or the Tea Party movement.

See, Duke's really a leftist progressive seekrit mooslim just like Obama.  Check out that set of gymnastics.

Don't say you weren't warned.

There's A Special Place In Hell Reserved For You, Sir

A 25-year-old Chandler man accused of burning his son's hand and wrist because the child touched his Bible was booked Sunday on suspicion of child abuse, police said.

Johnny Salazar was taking care of his two sons, ages 2 and 5 this weekend on the 800 Block of East Flint Street, police said. He shares custody of the boys with their mother, who lives in Casa Grande. Both Salazar and the boys' mother live with their own parents.

"The boy was touching his Bible and he thought the boy may be possessed," Favazzo said.
The boy told his grandmother, "well dad burned me for touching his Bible."

Chinese Bread And Butter

China's monopoly over rare-earth metals could be challenged by the discovery of massive deposits of these hi-tech minerals in mud on the Pacific floor, a study on Sunday suggests.
China accounts for 97 percent of the world's production of 17 rare-earth elements, which are essential for electric cars, flat-screen TVs, iPods, superconducting magnets, lasers, missiles, night-vision goggles, wind turbines and many other advanced products.

As a result, the 17 elements have sometimes been dubbed "21st-century gold" for their rarity and value.

Production of them is almost entirely centred on China, which also has a third of the world's reserves. Another third is held together by former Soviet republics, the United States and Australia. 

That's a pretty sizeable margin, but the new discovery has put a major dent in China's market domination.  However, it has led to a whole new scramble while scientists and businesses align to determine the best way to mine these products.  The good news is, there is little to no environmental impact from the filtering process (the mining may be a different story) but the bad news is this accumulates so slowly that when we're out, we're out.  Dependence on a limited resource is only a temporary choice.

The material had taken hundreds of millions of years to accumulate, depositing at the rate of less than half a centimetre (0.2 of an inch) per thousand years. They were probably snared by action with a hydrothermal mineral called phillipsite.

At one site in the central North Pacific, an area of just one square kilometre (0.4 of a square mile) could meet a fifth of the world's annual consumption of rare metals and yttrium, says the paper. 

A secondary perk may be that this could lead to a better exploration of the ocean, and the treasures it may contain.  In the meantime, this could also drop prices on gadgets and tech products, which makes a geek like me smile. 

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 74

Remember that Foreclosuregate settlement offer Bank of America took for $8.5 billion to get off the hook for far more in fraud?  The company's creditors are suing the pants off them over it, claiming conflict of interest.

A group of bond-holders on Tuesday challenged Bank of America's record $8.5 billion settlement for losses on mortgage-backed securities, clouding its efforts to move past the subprime mortgage mess.

The proposed settlement was marred by "serious conflicts of interest" and "would extinguish the legal rights of hundreds of other investors," Walnut Place, the group of disgruntled bond-holders, alleged in a court filing.

"Walnut Place has serious concerns about the secret, non-adversarial, and conflicted way in which the proposed settlement was negotiated and about the fairness of the terms of the proposed settlement," the group said.

The challenge threatens to scuttle a deal that Bank of America had worked out with 22 large investment groups in an effort to close the door on its disastrous 2008 acquisition of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.

Translation:  We're not letting you pay pennies on the dollar for the money you owe us.  Pay up, boys or we'll see you in court.  You really didn't think Bank of America would get off this easy when it involved screwing over the hedge fund titans, did you?

The Tea Party Has Lost Bobo

And if you've lost Bobo, then you've lost the Village.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol. 

Congrats, David Brooks.  It only took you a couple years to figure out what most of us got in the first five minutes of seeing the Tea Party rallies in 2009.  Your complete cluelessness is only exceeded by your utter lack of self-awareness in your role enabling these clowns to wreck our country in the first place.

You defended their racial dog whistles, you defended their populist manipulation, you defended their radicalism, you defended their birther nonsense, and you did it whenever you found it was convenient to do so, then you decided to piss and moan about how awful they are.

You helped put them there, Brooks.  Do go away, we're sick of you.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 28

President Obama says he's tired of Congress kicking the can and wants a real deal on the debt ceiling.

President Barack Obama is refusing to accept a piecemeal approach to raising the nation's borrowing limit while kicking the can down the road on reducing the spiraling deficit.

"I've heard reports that maybe some in Congress want to do just enough to make sure America doesn't default in the short term," he said, rejecting the proposition.

"I believe that right now we have a unique opportunity to do something great," he said.

Citing some progress even though "real differences" remain on raising the debt ceiling, Obama on Tuesday invited leaders of Congress to the White House on Thursday to continue negotiations on a long-term deficit deal.

Reaching a compromise, Obama said, would require both sides to move beyond their comfort zones. He said that entitlements, defense spending and taxes need to be a part of any deal.

Here's the problem with that.  Any deal that involves entitlements will have Republicans pounding the President and Democrats on the air screaming DEMOCRATS CUT YOUR MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY just like in 2010, and it is a battle the Democrats will lose and lose badly.  I'm not sure why Obama is bound and determined to do this, but there you are.

I'm far more concerned he believes that the Republicans will in any way negotiate in good faith.


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