Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Call

And then the air was filled with the sound of a million wingnuts rending their garments and gnashing their teeth.

Investigations are progressing into the U.S. operations of News Corp after the UK phone hacking scandal, U.S. Attorney-General Eric H. Holder said in Australia on Friday.

"There have been members of Congress in the United States who have asked us to investigate those same allegations and we are progressing in that regard using the appropriate Federal law enforcement agencies," Holder told reporters.

The Obama justice department investigating the parent company of FOX News.

Let that sink in for a moment what that means to the conspiracy-obsessed people who think Holder is coming for their guns and precious bodily fluids.

Oh, and the CEO of Rupert Murdoch's Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton, just resigned.

It's turning into a bad, bad day for the guys at FOX.

Bored, Walking Empire

California Republicans in the Inland Empire have been trying to split the state's electoral votes for years now and have been blocked (and rightfully so) at every turn by Democrats.  So finally in Riverside County, one Republican (County Supervisor Jeff Stone) is finally going there:  secession from the state because Democrats are stinky.

"We have hit a nerve with citizens who are just fed up with business as usual in the state," Stone said. "I'm talking about a secession plan from the state of California."

This week, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors gave the OK to Stone to hold a summit of California's local leaders to discuss remedies for the state's long list of woes -- including secession.

But the county board stopped short of endorsing Stone's secessionist plan by insisting no taxpayer money be used for the conference.

Stone has come up with a name for the new state: South California. It would be composed of 13 largely Republican counties, most of which are inland along the Nevada and Arizona state lines. The plan would exclude Los Angeles County, but would include Orange and San Diego Counties, both on the coast.

Stone has a long list of grievances against the state and its legislators: high taxes and fees, inability to reform welfare programs, high unemployment and excessive regulations.

"What the state has done is they've been balancing their budgets on the backs of our local coffers. They've been stealing our sales tax, property tax," Stone said. "The bottom line for me and my constituents is jobs. We are sending jobs out of the state of California by the train load."

Riverside County is among the hardest hit communities by the recession and mortgage meltdown, leaving many communities pockmarked with vacant homes, Stone said.

"We are the foreclosure capital of the world," Stone asserted. "We have some areas of the county that have 25% unemployment. The average in Riverside County is about 15%."

To recap, Stone's brilliant idea is to take San Diego, Palm Springs and all the inland stuff, and leave the rest of California to the Democrats.  Which is fine with the Democrats, because I'm sure they would enjoy having things like Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and water and then not have to worry at all about the border with Mexico.

Look, I appreciate the fact there are enough Republicans in these counties to pretty much form a 51st state without any problems, but we're really talking about splitting states up because you don't like Democrats?  That's what this is all about, frankly.  Why work with them when you can make national news by threatening secession?

That's Republican politics in California these days.

Bagging The Original Firebagger

If you've not checked out Milt Shook and his blog (Please Cut The Crap!) then you're doing yourself a major disservice.  It's worth it just for this brilliant dismantling of Jane Hamsher's latest screed railing against Obama and the McConnell surrender position.

I don’t know anyone “cheering” for the McConnell deal. That seems to be a conclusion she has simply jumped to, based on zero evidence. I’m as strong an Obama supporter as there is, but even I’m a little wary of it. I’d have to see more details. But the fact is, both Boehner and McConnell blinked.

Obama put unspecified Social Security cuts on the table, precisely because the GOP had asked for them for six months, and he decided to call their bluff. They’ve already been tagged for actively trying to kill Medicare; you think Republicans also want to be tagged with cutting Gramma’s Social Security? Can you say “bloodbath”? He called their bluff, and THEY BLINKED.

First, Boehner, who is without a doubt the least prepared Speaker of the House in US history, called for a much SMALLER package of spending cuts. I’d REALLY like for Jane to explain to us all how putting Social Security on the table causes the Speaker to demand a SMALLER package of tax cuts, if OBAMA is the one who’s “humiliated.”

Then, there’s McConnell. For those with short memories, Miss McConnell is the Republican leader who stated that the number one goal of his party would be to make Obama a one-term president. Not fix the economy and make lives better, but to destroy Obama. He has spent the last 2 ½ years suggesting that Obama can’t be trusted with anything regarding the government.

Yet McConnell crafted this plan, in which he plans to give the “untrustworthy” Obama total control of the debt ceiling, in return for basically promising to provide Congress with some major spending cuts, which he all but promised to kill when they got there.

Jane thinks McConnell’s the smart one? Really?

BOTH Republicans demanded Social Security cuts for months. They’ve goaded and goaded, but the second Obama offered to entertain some, they BOTH essentially took Social Security back off the table. You have to be insane to think Republicans won this round. They’ve been bested by him every goddamn time they’d challenged him, and they’ve walked away looking like complete fools. 

Milt definitely has his head on straight and kudos to him for calling Hamsher out.

Look folks, it's one thing to voice healthy (and in a representative democracy, required) dissent when you disagree with political policy.  It's another thing entirely to call yourself a progressive and then endlessly attack the President for "caving" again and again when he's done the responsible thing holding the line against the Republican Madness Machine.  If the GOP were any more nuts, you'd need to check them for facial tentacles and a passport from R'lyeh.  The fact that Obama's even able to hold them off is very impressive.

And no, as I've said time and time again I have a number of policy disagreements with this President, especially on military issues, civil liberties, and failure to go after Bush's little rancid ass.  But I'm not the one who hates Obama so much that the flames on the side of my face, breathing, heaving breaths I'm working with Grover Effing Norquist on things either, ya know?

There's a limit.  Hamsher crossed that line, then made a fundraising career out of crossing it.  She's a joke, and her "principled opposition" is the punchline.

The Kroog Versus Insane-O-Vision

Paul Krugman makes an excellent point:  if you're only now questioning the GOP as nuts, you bear much of the blame for them wielding so much power over our country right now and driving America to the brink.

Recently, however, all restraint has vanished — indeed, it has been driven out of the party. Last year Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, asserted that the Bush tax cuts actually increased revenue — a claim completely at odds with the evidence — and also declared that this was “the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.” And it’s true: even Mr. Romney, widely regarded as the most sensible of the contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination, has endorsed the view that tax cuts can actually reduce the deficit.

Which brings me to the culpability of those who are only now facing up to the G.O.P.’s craziness.
Here’s the point: those within the G.O.P. who had misgivings about the embrace of tax-cut fanaticism might have made a stronger stand if there had been any indication that such fanaticism came with a price, if outsiders had been willing to condemn those who took irresponsible positions.

But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a supposed deficit-reduction plan that included huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, then received an award for fiscal responsibility.

So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem. 

It's possible that this might finally be a turning point for sanity, but the reality is pretty grim at this point.  Chaos driven by greed has been very, very good to corporate America over the last three decades and continues to be.  A scant few years after the financial meltdown, the biggest titans are stronger than ever and have gained solely at taxpayer expense, while average Americans are suffering.

Yet the same "both sides do it" mentality of the Village and its corporate masters that allowed the GOP to take power has damaged this country to a far greater extent.  It's not just the Republicans who should be made to pay for their intransigence, but the Village idiots who helped elect them in the first place...and the corporations that control them.

Palin Tries To Wax Poetic - MooseFail Sauce

Sarah Palin used an interesting expression to describe President Obama's fiscal policies.
"Obama lies, economy dies,"Palin wrote on Twitter.
How about: she's a twit, we're in deep shit?  I am beginning to have hope that an idiot of her level won't steal any more attention from intelligent people, but I will give her credit... she's a determined little bugger, by gosh.
For someone who cries foul whenever someone throws any kind of accusation her way, she sure doesn't back off of spreading her own.  

Hot Toyota On Linux Action

SAN FRANCISCO, July 5, 2011 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that Toyota is its newest member.
A major shift is underway in the automotive industry. Carmakers are using new technologies to deliver on consumer expectations for the same connectivity in their cars as they’ve come to expect in their homes and offices. From dashboard computing to In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), automobiles are becoming the latest wireless devices – on wheels.
The Linux operating system is providing a common platform that helps connect the world’s network of devices, including cars. As an open source operating system, it provides automakers and their partners the flexibility they require to bring to market the latest technology features quickly.

There is a huge ball of connections here.  Linux, Android, Google, Toyota.  The possibilities are endless, and depending on who snags what, there could be some big power shifts here.   I'm surprised by the utter lack of a connection between Google and Linux.  That is the logical final piece to bring some big players together into a mass of products that would transcend the Internet and enter our homes and cars.  Methinks someone is trying to be quiet, it's wabbit season for the competition.

Classic Pot / Kettle Goodness

In response to requests from members of Congress and to at least one news report, the FBI in New York opened a preliminary inquiry on Thursday into allegations that News Corp. journalists sought to gain access to the phone records of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to several people briefed on the matter.
The investigation is in its earliest stages, two of the people said, and its scope is not yet clear. It also is unclear whether the FBI has identified possible targets of the investigation or possible specific criminal violations.

On the surface, fair enough.  If they find that it went down that way, I hope they make their lives hell.  The jaded side of me has to point out that this jumping to (incredibly publicized) action might also have to do with all the bad press the government has endured regarding privacy and civil rights recently.  Because if someone in the right group of people thinks you might possibly sorta be twice removed from a terrorist, they can do the same thing to you and it's legal.

Go get 'em boys.  Teach those criminals what happens when you access protected information without permission.

Taxing America's Patience, Part 3

Yet another poll shows that the country is overwhelmingly against the Republican refusal to raise taxes in order to help lower the debt.

When looking to reduce debt, politicians can employ two tactics. The first is to cut spending. The second is to raise taxes. Most budget experts say you need to do both.

But House Republicans -- an overwhelming majority of whom have signed a pledge to this effect -- refuse to consider any kind of tax increase, not matter who it hits.

Turns out, most Americans don't share their conviction.

A full 67% of Americans favor a deal to raise the debt ceiling that includes taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, according to a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.

Even worse for the GOP, that Q poll shows half of independent voters would blame the GOP, and only a third would blame President Obama if the debt ceiling wasn't raised and our economy was permanently damaged.

Republicans at this point need a bridge out of the corner they are in, and Obama is doing what he can to give them one.  But if they don't take it, the GOP is toast...and so is the country.


Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has wussed out on vetoing a Republican "late-term" abortion bill that would make no exceptions for the health of the mother or for rape or incest.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced today that he will not veto an anti-abortion bill that restricts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion on a “viable fetus.” The new law eliminates Missouri’s “general health exception” that allowed abortions to preserve the life or health of the woman. Come Aug. 28 when the law goes into effect, abortions will only be allowed “to save the woman’s life or when the pregnancy poses a serious risk of permanent physical harm to a major bodily function.” This narrow exception effectively eliminates a woman’s mental health as a justifiable reason and runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which only permits such bans “provided the life or health of the mother is not at stake,” a much more comprehensive definition of a woman’s health. Doctors who violate this new law “could face prison sentences of up to seven years, fines up to $50,000 and the loss of their medical licenses.” 

In other words, the law is in clear violation of the Casey decision, but Nixon is going to allow it to become law anyway.  He allowed a similar law to pass without choosing to veto it last year.  Surprise!  The Republicans upped the ante and dared him to veto it again.  Republicans already are saying that tougher restrictions are needed and that they don't expect Nixon to block them, either.

With friends like this, who needs Republicans anyway?  I'm sure Bon will have plenty to say about ol' Jay here.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 35

Talks on the debt ceiling will resume this weekend as President Obama lays out three options that are on the table.

President Barack Obama, insisting "it's decision time," Thursday told congressional leaders they've got three options to resolve an impasse over the debt limit — and two may have support among leaders of both parties.

Obama told lawmakers he's still seeking the "largest deal possible," to cut the deficit by as much as $4 trillion and raise the debt ceiling, said a Democratic official familiar with the talks, but the president didn't rule out cutting the deficit by $2 trillion or a third option of doing "significantly less on the deficit" while still increasing the debt limit. The Democratic official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing talks.

The president did, though, convey a sense of urgency, telling congressional leaders, "We need concrete plans to move this forward." 
He told lawmakers to talk with their members, saying he wants them to identify a potential resolution over the next 24 to 36 hours, people familiar with the talks said.


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