Thursday, September 8, 2011

Last Call

President Obama's job speech was pretty much exactly what I asked for.

"The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities, the question tonight is whether we'll meet ours," Obama said.

"The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy."

Obama said the initiative, called the American Jobs Act, would put people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.

"It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed," he said.

"It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.

"It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away."

$447 billion in jobs boosting, including some $240 billion in payroll tax cuts and tax breaks for small businesses based on the number of people they hire.  As I hoped for last week, the President delivered on a substantial program in Congress, plus plenty of things that the executive branch can do without Congress.  The White House fact sheet on the plan spells out the specifics.

Sadly, the Republicans will block every dime of it, because they want the economy to disintegrate so they can blame the President.  It's too bad this plan won't pass with even one tenth of the jobs boosting dollars in it...but I'm still glad the President said what he said.  It was a logical, moving, sensible speech about governing.

It will promptly be destroyed by Republicans who don't want to spend one dollar, and Useful Idiots who will threaten to stay home and let Republicans win in 2012 because the President didn't propose to spend three trillion.

Sad, but there you are.

Courting Disappointment

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Virginia's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, but looking at the news this evening you'd never know.

The three-judge panel determined that a lawsuit by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and challenging the health care law's individual mandate should be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. In a separate ruling, the majority determined that a separate lawsuit by Jerry Falwell's Liberty University should not proceed as well. In previous hearings, judges had expressed skepticism that Virginia had the standing to challenge the mandate section of the bill given that it applied to individuals and not state institutions.

The Department of Justice praised the decision in a statement:
"We welcome the dismissal of these two challenges to the Affordable Care Act. We also continue to appreciate the rulings of other courts on the merits upholding the constitutionality of the Act. Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed as well. We will continue to vigorously defend the health care reform statute in any litigation challenging it, and we believe we will prevail."
In Cuccinelli's case, the court decided that Virginia's claim that they would be harmed by the mandate because it conflicts with a state law barring the state from requiring citizens to obtain health insurance was insufficient to show standing. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Diana Gribbon Motz suggested that if Cuccinelli's suit were allowed to proceed, it could lead to an onslaught of politicized and frivolous legal challenges.

That's actually downright amusing.  The judges basically said "Hey look, this lawsuit is complete crap. If we allow this to proceed, then you're going to have states suing over every single Federal law they don't like."  Which they would, of course.  That's the whole point of the lawsuit.

Good for the Fourth Circuit to call BS on the proceedings and toss the suit out.  The rest of the courts need to do the same.  It's Obama Derangement Syndrome, in legal form.

StupidiNews! Local Facepalm Edition

Often I am so busy reading national news and events that I overlook my own area.  Sometimes you just have to shake your head and accept that you will never understand why some people do what they do.

Brett Cummins, a meteorologist at Little Rock television station KARK, has been interviewed several times since police were called to a home in Maumelle Monday morning, police spokesman Lt. Jim Hansard said.

The homeowner, who was identified in a police report as Christopher Barbour, told police he found Cummins asleep in the hot tub next to 24-year-old Dexter Williams. Williams' face was discolored, and he had a chain around his neck that appeared to resemble a dog collar, the report said. Barbour allegedly told police that the three men had been drinking and doing drugs the night before.

To each their own, but I think I speak for everyone when I say AWKWAAAAARD.

These incidents were reported in Springfield on Wednesday. These are initial reports, not fully vetted by police, as collected by the Springfield Police Department and shared with the public through blotter-type notations.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of incidents.

... Skipping the other reports and going straight to the grand finale.

At 6:22 p.m., Springfield Police went to St. John’s hospital to assist another agency investigating a rape that occurred in Polk County. At the hospital, police interviewed the alleged rape victim. During the interview, the woman admitted she lied about being raped so she could get an ambulance ride back to Springfield.

Yeah, not our finest moments. 

Orange Julius, Green With Envy

It seems John Boehner is a little out of sorts this evening as the President's speech is coming up tonight.

Answering questions Thursday morning about the lack of a Republican response to President Obama’s jobs speech, House Speaker John Boehner said the American people should not be forced to watch politicians — and most of them would rather see tackling than spinning.

“Listen, this is not a State of the Union address,” said Boehner during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol. ”The American people shouldn’t be forced to watch some politician they don’t want to listen to and frankly, most of them would rather watch a football game.”

Right. Orange Julius spends 8 months doing nothing about jobs except releasing a 12 page Powerpoint presentation and creating a grand total of zero actual jobs, complains that government can't create jobs, and then spends the same 8 months asking President Obama why he hasn't created 8 million jobs lost due to the Bush crash because jobs are the most important thing to the American people.  Now the President is about to release his jobs program proposals and Republicans are completely ignoring it, because America doesn't care about President Obama creating jobs, they just want to watch football.

Meanwhile, the GOP came up with a jobs program in the last couple of hours.  Amanda Terkel:

"Now the White House is calling for an extension when there have been no signs that the temporary measure worked in the first place," the GOP talking points state. "While it's always a net positive to let taxpayers keep more of what they earn, not all relief is created equal for the purpose of helping to get the economy moving again."

That's right, Republicans are against any tax cut Obama wants, especially one that would help American workers.  Douchebags.

War? There's An App For That

After realizing they can't beat the potential of an Android smart phone, the military is considering going along with repackaging smart phone technology into an invaluable tool to serve as a compass, communicator, information sharing and picture taking device.  And why not?  It's a prepackaged solution to a problem the military has tried to solve for two decades.  The only surprising detail (but delightful in my book) is that the Army insists that the Android operating system be used.

Smartphones embarrass them: The Nett Warrior program and its predecessors have spent two decades trying to give soldiers tools for communications and mapping that smartphones currently offer. The results? Mixed, at best.

Back in April, the officer then overseeing Nett Warrior, Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, sounded irritated when Danger Room brought up the subject of smartphones. “Every kid’s going down to whatever local store they want, and they’re buying some smart device and saying, ‘Well, this is modern, and it lets me know where I am, where my friends are … it gives me all that capability, how come I can’t get that?’”

Of course, it’s not as simple as that: Civilian smartphones rely on billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure to work, and they don’t have to be built to survive Afghanistan. But now, with little choice, Nett Warrior is taking the plunge and embracing the smartphones it once tried to avoid.

In late July, the Pentagon’s acquisitions overseers put Nett Warrior on ice while they reviewed whether it made any sense to make soldiers wear eight pounds of gear to do less than what a phone weighing a few ounces (plus a tactical, encrypted radio) can offer. Evidently, the answer is no. A new solicitation from Nett Warrior is basically preparing to go shopping for smartphones.
Of course, the first model should be named Skynet in honor of the cloud network.  Some things are meant to be.

That Angle Looks Good

Wrestling headliner Kurt Angle was allegedly under the influence, and when the story broke nobody was surprised to see another wrestling bad boy accused of being criminal.  The surprise came after the story broke, where Angle defended himself immediately (and eloquently).  He did not hurl accusations but explained that he was not intoxicated and would dispute the charges.

TMZ broke the documents showing Angle was telling the truth.  He was well below the legal limit, and says he will plead not guilty because he isn't guilty of any wrongdoing.  Good for him.

The Big GOP Debate Thread

Who won and who lost last night's GOP debate and who cares?  They're Republicans, they're mad (on multiple levels) and the only way one of these jokers ends up President is if the populace abandons reason, sanity, and President Obama.

Still, Josh Marshall calls the night for Romney:

In my mind, whatever the polls say tomorrow, Mitt Romney came out of tonight with a strong argument that Rick Perry can't win a general election. Whether that shows up today or tomorrow or whenever, that's a thing of great value to someone in Romney's position. So again, I score the evening a strategic victory for Romney.

Stan Kurtz at the National Review argues the exact opposite:

This was a very successful debate debut for Rick Perry. It confirms his position as the leader of the field. As of now, this race is a Perry-Romney duel, but Perry’s the one to beat. Romney and Perry were well matched tonight, but Perry’s appeal to the base means he’s got a leg up over Romney just by fighting to a draw, which he did at least, if not better.

Basically every other pundit opinion on Earth this morning falls into one of those two categories:  Romney won because he showed Perry can't beat President Obama, and Perry won because he showed Romney can't win the primary.  The one thing that everyone pretty much agreed on is that despite the large field, this is now Mittens vs Governor Goodhair for all the clown marbles.

At least this month, anyway.  Quite a lot can change in the next 14 months.  But for the rest of us sane Americans, here's everything you needed to know from last night's debate:

[Moderator BRIAN] WILLIAMS: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you…


No really,the debate audience applauded Rick Perry's death penalty tally when Brian Williams mentioned it.

Lovely people, Republicans.

Disaster Prone Strategy

I know I give Harry Reid a hard time most of the time (OK, nearly always) but he's got the right idea here:  to put Republicans on the spot by offering a clean disaster aid bill in the Senate.

"We need to get this relief funding to the American people as quickly as we can, and we're going to do that -- I'm going to bring a free-standing bill, and we're going to have a chance to vote on it," Reid told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing Wednesday. "Some of my Republican colleagues are trying to -- I was going to say something that was vulgar and I'm not going to do that -- are trying to cater to the Tea Party by holding up relief efforts."

Reid singled out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) who was an early, vocal advocate for offsetting. I put in a request for comment on Reid's specific plan with Cantor's office, but it's worth pointing out that Cantor addressed this to some extent earlier Wednesday. "I am for making sure people get their money [and] that there will be no hold up," he told reporters. 

So go ahead Republicans, vote against disaster relief for the Gulf Coast, the Carolinas, the mid-Atlantic states and New England.   By all means, hang Texas, North and South Carolina, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama out to dry, GOP.  You do that.  Reap that little whirlwind.

Smart, smart move by Reid for once.  I applaud it...because after all, disaster bills SHOULD be clean.

Making Your (Face)Book Early

Mark Zuckerberg's Blue And White Monster is seeing nothing but huge piles of green in 2011.

Facebook's revenue doubled to $1.6 billion in 2011's first half, a source with knowledge of its financials told Reuters, underscoring its appeal to advertisers while it grapples with intensifying competition from the likes of Google Inc.

Net income in the first half of 2011 came to almost $500 million, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous because privately-held Facebook does not disclose its results.

Facebook's stronger results come as investors have pushed its valuation to roughly $80 billion in private markets, with many industry observers expecting the world's No. 1 Internet social network to go public in 2012.

That kind of performance is bringing the competition and the critics running to get a piece of Zuckerberg's Big Show, and that's mostly good news for users.  It means Facebook will have to push the envelope more and give users more features and more security.  On the other hand, as Bon The Geek has noted dozens of times, the temptation to use a massive personal information database for monetary gain has to be overwhelming, even as Facebook is already rolling in billions.

The temptation to cut corners of privacy and security in order to stay one step ahead of Google and Microsoft may not be something that the company can resist too much longer.


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