Friday, August 5, 2011

Last Call

Rick Perry's not running for President because the millisecond he does, the opposition research guys are going to have a carnival with him. Things are falling apart for Perry's religious coming-out party this weekend in Texas.  MoJo's Tim Murphy:

Although stadium-packing rallies are nothing new for the Religious Right, the pushback to Perry's gathering—dubbed "The Response"—has been fierce. The problem isn't with separation of church and state; Perry's faith is no secret, and he's made it clear that he will be attending the event as a private citizen and not in his official capacity as governor. The controversy, magnified by the governor's escalating flirtation with a presidential bid, stems mostly from the company he's keeping. Perry has left the organization and the funding for the prayer rally up to a handful of key sponsors—groups like the American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a "hate group") and the International House of Prayer (the other IHOP). Those organizations created a monster: In interviews, the event's planners have conceded that the non-Christians will not be allowed on stage, and that the event—which Perry says is open to everyone—is intended in part to convert people to Christianity.

Although Perry and his defenders say he's the victim of guilt by association ("Just because you endorse me doesn't mean I endorse everything that you say or do," he told the Dallas Morning-News) they're missing a key point: By tasking these groups with running the event, Perry endorsed them.

This would be akin to Candidate Obama having Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayers run his campaign stops, and that's only if Ayers or Wright were as absolutely insane as possible to openly say stuff like the 9/11 attacks were punishment for allowing homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the US, that groups of birds dying last summer was because of DADT, that invisible things live in your clothing to remind you of your sinning, that Democrats are the "network of wicked forces" working for Satan, that gays are just like Nazis, that Glee is evil, that orcas and grizzlies should be destroyed(!), that the gay Illuminati are running America, that the feds are trying to mind-control the country with implanted RFID chips, that Muslims are too inbred and stupid to serve in our military, that Oprah Winfrey is the herald of the Antichrist, that secession from America is a good idea, that the Statue of Liberty is a graven idol, and that Japan was smote due to their weird sun goddess worship.

And all of those insane things are documented in Murphy's article in the link there at the top.

So no, I don't think Rick Perry is running for President.  (But if he does, it's going to be a hoot.)

Nadir Of The Naderites

Here's an absolute shocker, that given the debt ceiling deal this week the right is looking to the disgruntled left for help.  Pajamas Media head Roger Simon is more than happy to concern troll the left with unsolicited advice:

Nevertheless, Obama is ensuring his own failure. Should he resign? If you were a Democrat, you might want that, even with daffy Joe Biden waiting in the wings. Better yet, you would want Obama, in the grand tradition of LBJ, to decline a second term. No such luck. The man is evidently an (increasingly) bitter clinger...

 It's telling that the wingers understand disgruntled Democrats better than Democrats themselves do, as evidenced by the master of disaster himself, Ralph Nader.  Nader took to Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller to get his "message" out and gosh, they were more than glad to run with it.

“What [Obama] did this week is just going to energize that effort,” Nader promised in an interview with The Daily Caller. “I would guess that the chances of there being a challenge to Obama in the primary are almost 100 percent.”

The only question, he said, is the stature of that opponent and whether it will be either “an ex-senator or an ex-governor” or “an intellectual leader or an environmental leader.”

In approximately a week and a half there will be “another chapter of this effort,” Nader predicted.

Excellent.  Nader, the Daily Caller, and Pajamas Media all know who their audience is for stuff like this and plenty will oblige them.  But if you believe that Carlson, Simon, and especially Ralph Nader have the interests of the Democratic party at heart, I've got some Gore 2000 posters to sell you.

Expect a hell of a lot more of this.

The Price Of Fame

Two tales of prices and consumers this evening, first for the top 10% of America here in the New Gilded Age, life is good...and the luxury item market has not only rebounded from the 2008 crash, it's growing faster than ever.

Tiffany’s first-quarter sales were up 20 percent to $761 million. Last week LVMH, which owns expensive brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, reported sales growth in the first half of 2011 of 13 percent to 10.3 billion euros, or $14.9 billion. Also last week, PPR, home to Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands, said its luxury segment’s sales gained 23 percent in the first half. Profits are also up by double digits for many of these companies.

BMW this week said it more than doubled its quarterly profit from a year ago as sales rose 16.5 percent; Porsche said its first-half profit rose 59 percent; and Mercedes-Benz said July sales of its high-end S-Class sedans — some of which cost more than $200,000 — jumped nearly 14 percent in the United States. 

Meanwhile for the rest of us schlubs, it's sobering to know the economy has gotten so bad even cable giants like Time Warner are admitting the monthly price of cable and broadband internet service is now out of reach for many Americans.

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, however, was one of the executives focusing on the hazards of a bad economy.

"There clearly is a growing underclass of people who clearly can't afford it," he said. "It would serve us well to worry about that group."

Even with the economy on shaky footing, Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes remained particularly bullish about cable's prospects.

Dauman said it was "remarkable" that cable was one of the last things that customers cut off during the recession and was a testament to the value that cable offered.

Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett, one of the analysts who has written extensively about the poverty issue, said the cable business was a "rigged game" that allowed programing fee hikes to be passed on by operators to consumers with impunity.

"That has been a wonderfully attractive model for a generation, but the danger, of course, is that eventually the video product will be priced into irrelevance for lower income consumers," said Moffett. "I don't know when it will happen, but I suspect we're already perilously close."

That's because if you're like me, you've trimmed your cable bill already and it's still going up, and home broadband internet is more or less required for my line of work.   If luxury good sellers are making money hand over fist and can raise prices while the vast majority of Americans are cutting back, if even cable companies are asking themselves if their prices are too high, there's a fundamental problem with the way the "free market" is working here in the US.

But hey, this is the economy the big corps bought Congress and paid for.

Mystery Mitt-chine

Apparently in a post-Citizens United world, roving packs of corporate donors will congeal into existence only long enough to try to help Mittens buy the 2012 presidential election, then vanish like a fart in the wind.

Watchdog groups are demanding that state and federal officials investigate a $1 million donation from a mysterious firm to an independent political group backing Mitt Romney's campaign in order to determine whether it violates federal campaign laws.

In a letter to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the Public Campaign Action Fund claims that the giant contribution to Super PAC "Restore Our Future" from the firm W Spann LLC is out of bounds. As first reported by NBC's Michale Isikoff, records show the firm was incorporated in the state in March and then dissolved in July with little apparent activity besides its donation and virtually no publicly available information on its owners.

"If Attorney General Biden doesn't act soon, Delaware is likely to turn into the Cayman Islands of political fundraising," David Donnelly, the group's national campaigns director, wrote. "This is just another avenue for wealthy donors and maybe even foreign interests to influence who wins and loses American elections."

Expect a lot more of this as corporate interests try to push donating as much money as possible into the system through as many means as possible.  Ideally for the corporations, another Supreme Court decision before the election that removed the rest of the nation's few remaining campaign finance laws would all but assure the complete corporate takeover of our political system.

Meanwhile, they'll continue to push the boundaries, especially in corporate-friendly states, to see what they can get away with under the current arrangement.

More than anything else, it's corporate money that is ruining our political system.

CDC: Prevention A Must To Stop AIDS

The CDC has recently reminded us that AIDS is still spreading, and while we have made a step in the right direction there is a long way to go.

But behind the stable number of new infections lies some troubling warning signs. If the number of people living with HIV continues to grow by tens of thousands each year, the stability in new infections will be short-lived.
In fact, the new HIV incidence data show that infections are already rising among one specific group of Americans: gay and bisexual men younger than 30. In this group, there was an alarming 48% increase among young African-American gay and bisexual men. A new generation of men must be reached urgently so that they can learn how to protect themselves from HIV.
Clearly, swift action is also needed to ensure that similar increases do not emerge in other populations. Yet HIV prevention isn't woven into the fabric of our lives as it should be and once was, given that the disease is still incurable and deadly. In fact, studies show that less than half of Americans have ever been tested for HIV.
Testing should become a major focus.  For the most part (sadly, not always) AIDS is spread because the infected person is not aware of their condition.  Availability and including it as part of a regular medical profile could dramatically reduce the number of cases.  Condoms should be as available and inexpensive as possible, and while many take that for granted the reality is AIDS has slipped off our radar as a nation.    We can't accept its existence as commonplace.  This is a scourge that can largely be headed off with preventative steps.  It's like finding the cure for cancer and just deciding it's an inconvenience.  Sexual activity must include sexual responsibility.  We can do better.

We have to do better.

No More And No Less

(CNN) -- The American Psychological Association is calling on state and federal officials to stop anti-gay legal measures and to legalize same-sex marriage.
The scientific and professional organization's guiding body voted unanimously at its annual meeting this week in Washington to declare its support for "full marriage equality for same-sex couples."
Gay people aren't crazy.  They do not need to be cured.  They are a section of our population, and a large one at that.  They are in our churches, schools, government and they deserve recognition as being as nice, mean, smart, dumb, kind and rude as their straight counterparts. They are just people, no more and no less, and deserve the same freedoms and rights as anyone else.  No more and no less.

Thank you, APA.

Chris And The Crazies

Want to know why New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie isn't running for President?  He'd never survive the Republican primary when he rightfully defends his appointment of a Muslim lawyer to the state's bench.

The pathetic part about this is that this video proves why Christie could never win the nomination in 2012. Despite his union-busting nonsense and his education cuts, he just doesn't despise Muslims enough to be taken "seriously" as a GOP Clown Car Candidate.

That's where the Republican Party is in 2011. That's where the bar is: A blue state Republican governor earns plaudits for the simple act of not hating Muslims. This makes him a moderate, if not a mavericky centrist with possible national potential.

It's not our government that is broken. It's the entire Republican party.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 38

By no means is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster even close to over.  With radiation levels still pegging the needle at 10 Sieverts an hour this week (a lethal dose in just 10-20 minutes) and in reality probably much higher than that, no wonder Japan has now fired the country's top nuclear safety officials.  The BBC:

Three men in charge of nuclear power safety and policy have been sacked amid the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan's Trade and Industry Minister, Banri Kaieda, said the three senior officials would be held responsible for mishandling the plant and its problems.

The Fukushima plant, hit by the tsunami in March, is still leaking radiation.

The crisis has also brought to light the close links between the government and the power industry.
Those sacked are the head of the nuclear safety agency, Nobuaki Terasaka, the head of the agency for natural resources and energy, Tetsuhiro Hosono, and the vice minister for economy, trade and industry, Kazuo Matsunaga.

Mr Kaieda, who played a key role in handling the Fukushima crisis, has also said he plans to resign to take responsibility.

But he has not said when he will do so, despite a tearful confrontation with opposition lawmakers.

Is it any wonder why beef and produce bans continue to increase from the stricken area?

The Japanese government, fighting a quake-triggered nuclear plant crisis, Tuesday extended its beef cattle shipment ban to Tochigi prefecture in that region.

The action was taken as radiation emissions have continued from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in nearby Fukushima Prefecture, which was crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said it was decided to ban shipments from Tochigi after some cattle raised there were found to be contaminated with radioactive cesium, Kyodo News reported.

The government already has suspended beef cattle shipments from Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

More and more prefectures and more and more Japanese citizens will find themselves facing dangerous levels of radiation as the months roll by.  This disaster will define a generation in that country.  When the Japanese people have finally had enough, things will get truly uglyand will do so quickly.

Totally Hoping You've Forgotten

Via Digby, I see the GOP is totally hoping you have forgotten that 95% of them voted to end Medicare.  Three separate times.

For The Record…It Was Obama Who Offered To Cut Hundreds Of Billions In Medicare During The Debt Debate


That's the headline over at the Republican National Committee's website.  Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to destroy Medicare with their Paul Ryan budget proposal this spring, again with the Cut, Cap, and Balance nonsense, and a third time with the Boehner bill.

Most interesting?  The GOP now sounds like the usual suspects on the angry anti-Obama left.  There's a reason for that.


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