Monday, April 30, 2012

Last Call

Please recall that the last time we had a Republican in the White House, it was stuffed to the gills with psychopathic nutjobs like CIA black ops man Jose "Big Boy Pants" Rodriguez here, who spent years justifying outright torture of suspects after the fact.

Jose Rodriguez: For the first time in our history, we had an enemy come into our homeland and kill 3,000 people. I mean, that was a huge deal. People jumping from the towers to their death. The people running away from the cloud of dust, terrified out of their mind. This was a threat. And we had to throw everything at it.

Which is why Jose Rodriguez says that when he ran the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, he came up with the idea of employing harsh interrogation techniques. And 10 years later, he feels he still has to justify their use.

Lesley Stahl: You had no qualms? We used to consider some of them war crimes.

Jose Rodriguez: We made some al Qaeda terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days. But we did the right thing for the right reason. And the right reason was to protect the homeland and to protect American lives. So yes, I had no qualms.

Rodriguez spent 31 years in the CIA's Clandestine Service where spies are revered as "fighter jocks". He rose thru the ranks, eventually running covert operations as head of the Latin America division. When al Qaeda struck on 9/11, he'd had no experience in counterterrorism or the Middle East. But he wanted "in" on the war on terror, and went to the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, where the main objective was to stop another attack on the U.S. homeland.

And he went all in, folks.  Do  Watch the whole thing. These guys? Crazier than a warthog on fire.  Imagine what will happen when they take us to war with Iran for another decade, and what we'll justify after the fact when we round up whomever for even more indefinite detention?  And yeah, I'm aware of the fact we're still holding plenty of folks now under the Obama administration, but for the most part those programs have been dismantled.  Do you think that will be the case if Romney's elected?

As for the Big Boy Pants crack, well, that's from Rodriguez himself:

Jose Rodriguez: We needed to get everybody in government to put their big boy pants on and provide the authorities that we needed.

Lesley Stahl: Their big boy pants on--

Jose Rodriguez: Big boy pants. Let me tell you, I had had a lot of experience in the agency where we had been left to hold the bag. And I was not about to let that happen for the people that work for me.

All about the pants, man.  All about the pants.

Really, I'm Not Sniffling. It's Allergies.

Blair is a 1-year-old black Labrador mix brought to the Woodland West Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., after she was shot while living on the streets.  After he recovered from his wounds, Blair remained at the clinic, a timid and nervous pup whose difficult history made her hard to place with an adopted family, the hospital's director, Dr. Mike Jones, told
Then there was Tanner, a two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy who was born blind and with a seizure disorder so severe he was sent to Woodland Hospital as a last resort after his first owner died and the Oklahoma City-based Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that had assumed his care, was unable to find a family to give him the around-the-clock care he needed.
"One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together, Jones said.  "Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around."
Recognizing the dogs' immediate connection, hospital staff began to board Tanner and Blair together, and the results spoke for themselves.
Tanner had been seizing almost nightly, Jones said.  "After two or three weeks, we realized Tanner wasn't seizing anymore.  He's not completely seizure free but it's not constant anymore." 
Blair is more comfortable now, and less prone to behavior issues.  He has a purpose, and he enjoys helping.  Two heartbreaking stories led to something great.

You can read the full article here, which tells more about their condition and how they got to where they are now.  It will take a special person with a lot of resources to care for them, but they will be adopted as a pair.

The world is full of people who should aspire to such nobility, but are instead inferior to a dog from the streets.

This Monster Was Created, Not Born

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A man who was a poster child for victimized children has been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for raping and choking a 10-year-old girl.  
 Adam Croote — whose own childhood was so wrenching that he was invited to the White House at age 7 as a symbol of the plight of missing children — was sentenced Friday, The Times Union reported. Croote, 23, pleaded guilty in March to attacking a child he was babysitting.
The girl's family knew Croote was a registered sex offender before the assault last June at a home in Berne, near Albany, the newspaper said, citing court documents. But the relatives nonetheless asked Croote to watch the child after school one afternoon, authorities said.

There is so much wrong here.  First, the tragedy that brought Croote to our attention in the first place.  As a boy, Croote learned the world was full of evil and experienced a lot of it firsthand.  Then there is the tragedy of the cycle running on, as he sexually assaults and chokes a girl who managed to get away from him.  The avoidable tragedy?  That her parents knew he was a registered sex offender and still left her in his company.  What.  The.  Hell.

For all the stupidity above, it was two kids who bore the price.  We would do well to remember that.  Every article we read about child abuse, child molestation, neglect, it's all contributing to these people as adults.  Some grow up damaged, some grow up fine, some grow up to choke little girls and rape them.

We can't ever give up the fight to stop this.  Ever.

Blind Doctor Beaten By Cop

Det. David Van Buskirk, who attacked Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan on April 22, 2010, pleaded guilty Thursday to assault causing bodily harm.
Video cameras at the Jackson Park Health Centre captured the beating, although much of the physical altercation is slightly out of frame. Afterwards, Van Buskirk wrote in his report that the doctor ""immediately reached out and grabbed my throat and pushed me backward."
Of course he did, you jackhole.  You walked up to him and attacked him, with maybe five seconds of "discussion" beforehand.

In pleading guilty, Van Buskirk admitted that Abouhassan "did not strike him at all." He also confirmed that all of the doctor's reaction "was in lawful resistance to being assaulted by the accused."
And yet at first, the doctor was facing charges.  After they watched this video.  After the cop lied, saying he pushed him by the throat, and now says he didn't strike him at all.  I guess when an officer lies it's no big deal.  I wonder if his comments were revised when he learned about the video, and that it wasn't just a word of one man against another.

The man suffered a broken nose, torn eyelid, detached retina, and a bruised rib.  You know why his face took such a beating?  Because he's blind, dammit, and he couldn't see to defend his face, the most basic human reflex.

Both Bridgeman and Keane were charged with discreditable conduct for trying to prevent Abouhassan from filing criminal charges against Van Buskirk. Both were later exonerated.

Of course they were.

So help me God, if "he wasn't using that retina anyway" becomes part of the defense I will freaking lose it.  Considering how this case has gone so far, I wouldn't say anything is impossible here.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Catholicism

Please know going in to this that I bear no ill will against practicing Catholics.  Like anyone else, they are following the path their heart calls them to, and I understand the kind old lady in the corner has no actual bearing on the stupidity of church officials.  If I can give the Catholic church credit for anything, it's for ignoring their followers and the conversations remain mostly one-way. 

Having said that, let's dig in, shall we?

Maureen Dowd wrote an awesome piece for the New York Times in which she questions the church and its priorities.  One line in particular jumps out at me, because it's something I have wondered about as well.  How can the church bark at women for being too busy helping and spreading the generosity of Christ, while proactively defending the child molesting priests that hide within?  In what screwed up world does that even approach common sense?  

It has become a habit for the church to go after women. A Worcester, Mass., bishop successfully fought to get a commencement speech invitation taken away from Vicki Kennedy, widow of Teddy Kennedy, because of her positions on some social issues. And an Indiana woman named Emily Herx has filed a lawsuit saying she was fired from her job teaching in a Catholic school and denounced as a “grave, immoral sinner” by the parish pastor after she used fertility treatments to try to get pregnant with her husband.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York recently told The Wall Street Journal that only “a tiny minority” of priests were tainted by the sex abuse scandal. But it’s a global shame spiral. The church leadership never recoiled in horror from pedophilia, yet it recoils in horror from outspoken nuns.  
Pope Benedict, who became known as “God’s Rottweiler” when he was the cardinal conducting the office’s loyalty tests, assigned Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to crack down on the climate of “corporate dissent” among the poor nuns.
When the nuns push for social justice, they’re put into stocks. Yet Archbishop Sartain has led a campaign in Washington to reverse the state’s newly enacted law allowing same-sex marriage, and he’s a church hero.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic lobbying group slapped in the Vatican report, said it scares the church hierarchy to have “educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.”

Yeah, you read that right.  God's Rottweiler has assigned a task manager to keep those nuns in line, and make sure they only speak the words the church approves.  So the next time the church tries to say they have done all they can to stop the molesting of innocent children, or that they simply can't control the behavior of the priests, I think it's a fair question to ask for examples of them publicly denouncing the behavior and getting enforcers involved to stop them.  Then sit back and listen to the silence.

Auto-Mitt-ic For The People

And now Team Etch-A-Sketch is taking credit for the auto bailout, believe it or not.

At a Saturday forum hosted by the Washington Post, Fehrnstrom said that Obama’s auto industry rescue was successful because it was exactly what Romney himself proposed.

“[Romney’s] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed,” Fehrnstrom said. “He said, ‘If you want to save the auto industry, just don’t write them a check. That will seal their doom. What they need to do is go through a managed bankruptcy process.’”

“Consider that the crown jewel,” Fehrnstrom said. “The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney’s advice.”

Back here in reality, we recall that Mitt Romney's advice was "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. 

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

They got that check.  Now they are thriving after being bailed out AND going through a managed process.   Here's what Mitt said back then too:

I believe the federal government should invest substantially more in basic research — on new energy sources, fuel-economy technology, materials science and the like — that will ultimately benefit the automotive industry, along with many others. I believe Washington should raise energy research spending to $20 billion a year, from the $4 billion that is spent today. The research could be done at universities, at research labs and even through public-private collaboration.

That of course got nowhere because the GOP has brutally decimated funding for energy research programs too.  And now Mitt is taking credit because it was all his idea.  It's laughable stuff, and yet Mitt resets history whenever he can, because he's an inveterate liar.


Rotten Apple, Part 2

Gonna say that I wasn't aware as to the extent that Apple plays the bad corporate citizen game, but the NY Times continuing "iEconomy" series has been very illuminating. Apple's profits in 2011 doubled from 2010, their tax payments basically remained the same through a number of accounting gimmicks and offshore shell games.  This weekend's installment discusses those tax games, dubbed "The Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich".

Apple, the world’s most profitable technology company, doesn’t design iPhones here. It doesn’t run AppleCare customer service from this city. And it doesn’t manufacture MacBooks or iPads anywhere nearby.

Yet, with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states. 

Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company’s profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains. 

California’s corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada’s? Zero

Setting up an office in Reno is just one of many legal methods Apple uses to reduce its worldwide tax bill by billions of dollars each year. As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

And Republicans and conservatives will tell you that the problem isn't the tax code that allows states to play their zero sum games with jobs, nor is it Apple setting up their jobs in California to take advantage of Silicon Valley and paying zero taxes in Nevada as a contribution back.

No, the problem is California has a corporate tax rate above zero percent, and that's inherently evil.  Meanwhile, the reason why Apple stays in California includes some $400 million in R&D tax credits and grants.  Have your cake and eat it too, and other US multi-national corporations are following suit.

In the GOP world, it's Red States vs Blue ones.  We're not united at all, we're fighting each other for resources through war by any other means, most of it economic.  No wonder our national economy is weak.

They don't want anyone else to be a part of their "America".


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Call

Yeah I know.  It's a chunk of Meet The Press, and it has Rachel Maddow.  But it's actually a good argument, and Maddow drops the gloves here on a roundtable on the War on Women when GOP strategist Alex Castellanos goes all "now listen here young lady..." and she basically slaughters him and hangs him on a meathook.  Hilary Rosen and GOP Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers go at it too.

Rachel brings up the excellent point that yes, women make less than men do.  Rosen brings up that "when men have health issues, they're health issues.  When women have health issues, they're political issues".  And Castellanos couldn't be any more condescending to the both of them.  Meanwhile, Rodgers goes on about how it's a "myth created by the Democrat party."

It's everything wrong with the GOP right there in 10 minutes.  Rachel Maddow, Doctor Rachel Maddow, Rhodes Scholar, by the way, was purposely being dismissed by Castellanos here for letting her silly girly emotions taking over, her "passion":

It’s policy. And I love how passionate you are. I wish you are as right about what you’re saying as you are passionate about it. I really do.

As if Rachel is too stupid to know the difference between policy and passion and needs to be put in her place by a big strong man.   She can't possibly be right, because she has a vagina.  I don't agree with everything she says at times on issues of opinion, but I know better than to say she's wrong because she's too dumb to get her facts right because she's a woman.

And Rachel proceeds to rip Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers apart too:

The first law passed by this administration is the Fair Pay Act. To remedy that court ruling. The Mitt Romney campaign put you out as a surrogate to shore up people’s feelings about this issue after they could not say whether or not Mitt Romney would have signed that bill. You’re supposed to make us feel better about it. You voted against the Fair Pay Act. It’s not about–whether or not you have a female surrogate. It’s about policy and whether or not you want to fix some of the structural discrimination that women really do face that Republicans don’t believe is happening.

Let's not forget that it's Republican woman enabling this stuff to happen.  Gender issues, much like racism and poverty, only exist in the minds of lunatic liberals, apparently.  In Republican America, we're all equal.

As long as, you know, unlike Rachel Maddow, we shut up when the GOP men are talking, because they're always right.

As if you needed another reason to check out my friend ABL's new major political venture:  POWRpac, People Organizing for Women's Rights.

Donate today.

Out Of The Park

And for yet another year, the funniest guy in the room at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner?  President Obama.  Mediaite:

Obama joked about the colloquial term for the WCDA dinner, “nerd prom,” – “a term coined by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom.”

Obama also took a jab at Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post. “Plenty of journalists are here tonight,” said Obama. “I’d be remise if I did not congratulate the Huffington Post on their Pulitzer Prize. You deserve it Arianna. There is no one else out there linking to the kinds of hard hitting journalism that HufPo is linking to every single day.” He continued, “and you don’t pay them. It’s a great business model.”

Obama also mocked himself over recent jokes in conservative circles that he had consumed dog meat as a child in Indonesia. Invoking Sarah Palin’s famous 2008 Republican National Convention speech, Obama joked “what is the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.”

Obama addressed his likely Republican rival, Mitt Romney, once again. “We both have degrees from Harvard,” said Obama. “I have one. He has two… What a snob.”

Obama closed by mocking his opponents who say the president harbors a radical agenda for a second term. “In my second term, I will win the war on Christmas,” said Obama. “In my first term we repealed the law known as Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. In my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as ‘It’s Raining Men.”

Do watch the whole thing,  it's POTUS at his best.

It's About Time

Two Democrats introduced a bill on Friday that would ban employers from asking for their workers' Facebook passwords.
The Social Networking Online Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account.
The restriction would also apply to colleges, universities and schools. 

If you are not smart enough to use discretion on your social networking pages, then you reap what you sow.  I know people who have their Facebooks set to public and they are littered with pictures of bongs and anti-government wit.  That's their right, but they can't be surprised if someone legally goes there and reads, and then reacts, to what they willing made public.

However, protecting passwords and right to speech is critical and this sets an important precedent for all personal digital privacy wars to come.  If you are smart enough to keep your thoughts scrubbed for public and only rant to the people you love and trust, then no business should be able to pry into that.  Or your private correspondence, relationships (messy Facebook breakups are the norm nowadays) and other information that was walled off from the world for good reason.

I hope it passes, because we need as much protection as we can get.

A Swing And A Miss: Ted Nugent Style

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ted Nugent said he was insulted by the cancellation of his planned concert at an Army post over his comments about President Barack Obama.
Commanders at the Fort Knox, Ky., post nixed Nugent's segment of a June concert after the rocker and conservative activist said at a recent National Rifle Association meeting that he would be "dead or in jail by this time next year" if Obama is re-elected.
Nugent shows his inability to reason by focusing solely on whether what he said was a threat against Obama.  Of course it wasn't, you simpleton.  It was an outlandish accusation, a false statement at his expense meant to make him look bad and bring attention to Nugent.  It was a misrepresentation of reality that only a rabid anti-Obama nitwit could cough up.

But a threat?  No.

As for being insulted that his concert was canceled, it makes good sense to me.  If Nugent was set to play for the Trump company picnic and he publicly and loudly accused The Donald of something so outrageous it defied logic, you could expect that concert to be canceled.

I guess in Ted Nugent's world, freedom of speech means the ability to lie and not have to answer for it.  It means being able to hurl insults but cry like a little girl when the bill comes due.  All the freedom belongs to him, anyone who opposes him has no rights.  Yeah, sounds like a hypocritical GOP dipshit grabbed the mic again.  Can we shut him up so the big kids can try to fix the country?

Blind Man's Bluff

Chinese dissident and activist Cheng Guangcheng, who is blind, has escaped from government house arrest in Shandong province and is reportedly now in US hands in what is sure to be another chapter in the "interesting times" between Washington and Beijing.

The United States has not confirmed publicly reports that Chen, who slipped away from under the noses of guards and eyes and ears of surveillance equipment around his village home in eastern Shandong province, fled into the U.S. embassy.

China has also declined direct public comment on Chen's reported escape, which threatens to overshadow a two-day meeting with top Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Beijing from Thursday.

But Texas-based ChinaAid said it "learned from a source close to the Chen Guangcheng situation that Chen is under U.S. protection and high level talks are currently under way between U.S. and Chinese officials regarding Chen's status."

"Because of Chen's wide popularity, the Obama Administration must stand firmly with him or risk losing credibility as a defender of freedom and the rule of law," Bob Fu, president of the religious and political rights advocacy group that has long campaigned for Chen's freedom, said in an email.

The standoff carries political risk for President Barack Obama, whose presumptive Republican challenger in November's election, Mitt Romney, has painted Obama as weak on China.

"The Obama Administration will be inviting attack from the Romney campaign ... if the right course is not decided immediately," said Michael Pillsbury, a former senior official in the previous three Republican administrations.

Cheng has put the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton in kind of a tough spot right now.  Republicans will light into the President no matter what he does, but the right thing to do here is to get Cheng out of there.  The question is how.

The problem is doing so with Hillary Clinton meeting the Chinese make it look like all this was set up beforehand, and the Chinese don't like to be so openly insulted without a way out.  On the other hand, finessing this too much looks like dithering. Still, it looks like diplomacy is already underway and something positive will come from it.

We'll see what transpires.  What I do know is that Mittens would have found a way to screw this pooch already if he were running this show.  The fact that this is being handled low-key and without the words "major diplomatic disaster" splashed all over the international press is probably a good start here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Last Call

You should be worried about Spain.  Their economic plan is exactly what Republicans here in the US are calling for:  slashing thousands of government jobs and regulations and cutting spending on social programs "we can no longer afford".  Spain's austerity plan continues with the next step in an economy with 25% unemployment being raising taxes on the middle class.  Sound familiar?

Spain is executing the House GOP budget step by step.

Figures released by the Spanish government on Friday show that country with an unemployment rate of 24.4%, the highest in Europe, and a rate of over 50% among 16-24 year olds.

But despite the bad economic news, that country’s leadership appears determined to stick with the austerity program it has pursued for the last two years and has even recently announcing an increase in consumer taxes for next year.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy passed a plan in February to make it cheaper for employers to let workers go while raising taxes and cutting spending including health care and education.”

As explained by The New York Times, the Spanish government’s hope has been that even if growth and jobs suffer from draconian budget cuts, the lower interest rates that result will keep bond investors happy. But instead, foreign capital has been fleeing the country.

Standard & Poor’s just downgraded Spanish bonds by two notches, confirming a sense among investors that “it will be nearly impossible for Spain to meet its current deficit-lowering target amid one of the most severe recessions in the euro zone.”

So no, austerity is causing investors to pull their money out because they know that if the government is cutting spending with 25% unemployment, Spain's economy will descend into a death spiral.  Foreign investors know that with nobody in Spain able to buy their products any longer, there's no point in investing in the country when the economy is shrinking.

That should be the job of the spender of last resort, Spain's government.  Instead they are cutting government jobs, spending on social program,education and healthcare, and axing business regulations, exactly what the Republicans here say we must do now.

It's failing miserably.  But Republicans will do it here anyway if you vote for them.  Period.

Your call, America.

Obama Derangement Employment

Obama Derangement Syndrome is actually good for the economy it turns out as employment in the firearms industry has gone up up up because insane people think Scary President Black Man is coming for their guns nubile daughters.  Of course, there's fierce debate about whether or not all the additional societal damage from all those extra guns outweighs the jobs (and I stand firmly on the hell no side), but it's literally the only thing I've found to indicate there's anything close to a positive benefit to anyone over the massive, deranged hate grudges carried by the bitter clingers.  Still leaves it 99.66% negative, if you ask me.

There's noticeable economic impact in Kansas at least according to the Wichita Eagle via McClatchy:

A report released earlier this month by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for gun and ammunition manufacturers and retailers, said nationally that the firearms industry increased jobs by more than 30 percent and improved its economic impact by more than 66 percent between 2008 and 2011.

In that same period, the report said the industry added 1,202 jobs in Kansas and had an economic impact of more than $177 million.

The local firearms retail business has seen the addition of a new retailer to the market, Cabela’s, and the expansion of more established retailers. Gander Mountain, the St. Paul, Minn.-based outdoor specialty retailer, added a Gander Mountain Academy indoor shooting and simulation range and expanded its floor space for broader selection of firearms, ammunition and accessories – which it calls Gun World – at its WaterWalk store in downtown Wichita.

I'm sure the NRA is just bawling its eyes out at the thought of a second term for President Obama, and if Wichita gun range owner Mike Relihan is any example, these small businesses are just crushed by imaginary new regulations on their industry that of course could never pass Congress.

Retailers and industry officials say there are a number of external factors that have been driving sales, not the least of which is who is occupying the White House.

“I think it’s this last Democrat said some things, had a background that had some people worried … whether it’s real or not,” Relihan said, referring to President Obama.

Retailers said it’s not always just the party of the candidate that affects sales of firearms, but more the perception that a presidential candidate could propose legislation restricting sales of firearms or ammunition.

“That underlying fear is always there,” Holman said.

He said he thinks that’s part of the reason why firearms sales were so strong for the Bullet Stop in 2008, a presidential election year.

“It was definitely a big year,” Holman said.

2012 will be another big year for paranoid assholes to buy more guns, more bullets, more "protection" from the Kenyan Soshulist Usurper, more objects specifically designed to kill things. It'll be awesome fun for everyone when these devices get used as intended, but at least they're job creators!

Read more here:

Read more here:

False Equivalence, Get Thee Hence!

Meet Norm Ornsein and Thomas Mann.  The former is the last sane guy at the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute and the latter, one of the last sane guys at the more liberal Brookings Institute.  They team up to go Mario and Luigi on the "Both Sides Do It!" false equivalence Village nonsense and actually drop the blame at the feet of the GOPHow the article got into the Washington Post of all places is beyond me (as the Kaplan Daily is arguably the most egregious example of the Village Temple of the Sensible Centrist), but let's see how far this rabbit hole goes:

It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.

What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

Oh, those are fightin' words, boys...and yet any objective observer would have to agree that those two clowns are indeed the major reason the GOP has been completely intractable.  (I would have added Limbaugh, Rove, and Cheney myself.)  Granted, Ornstein and Mann have to get their shot in at the Donks:

Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics. But these tendencies do not routinely veer outside the normal bounds of robust politics. If anything, under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quo party. They are centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures.

The party of Poindexter versus the party of Genghis Khan, indeed.  But if the worst thing they muster about the Dems is that they're acting like normal Dems and that the GOP is off their collective rockers, well, it's only like many of us have been saying since what, 2007 now?

If not longer.  Hope these guys aren't banished from the internet for telling the truth.  Meanwhile, compare that directly with this David Gergen and Michael Zimmerman article at

Sens. Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch -- both stalwarts of the GOP who have committed apostasy by trying to work across party lines -- face primaries this season that imperil their survival: A poll Thursday morning found Lugar down 5 points to a tea party-backed challenger in Indiana, and Hatch failed to secure a 60% supermajority at his party's convention in Utah, sending his race to a primary. Only two years ago in Utah, another stalwart Republican who had worked with Democrats, Bob Bennett, was deposed by an ideologically purer primary challenger.

In the House, meanwhile, the once-robust cadre of "Blue Dog Democrats" -- moderate to conservative members of the liberal party -- has been winnowed out, with two more members (Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden of Pennsylvania) defeated in primaries this past Tuesday by opponents from their left flanks.

As of 2010, there were as many as 54 Blue Dogs, but the midterms knocked their caucus down to 26. With retirements and primaries, that number will probably be well below 20 by next January -- an effect that further turns Democrats into the party of the left.

Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans, both sides do it, literally.  Both sides are equally guilty, and Gergen's stupid, moronic tripe is the Village Mantra.  "It's too bad that we can't have more Democrats who courageously vote exactly like Republicans and Republicans who return the favor and courageously vote exactly like Republicans but don't call Obama names 100% the time.  We need more of these courageous people who will bravely drag the country to the center right."

You know who we need less of in Congress?  Orrin Hatch and Tim Holden.  And good riddance to the both of them.  Hatch co-sponsored the Violence Against Women Act nearly 20 years ago and he voted against it last week.  Bye.

I'll lose no sleep over the loss of "moderates" like that.

Jellybeans Was Behind Assault

The incident unfolded Friday afternoon on the ride home from Forwood Elementary School, according to the 7-year-old's mother, Aisha Williams-Gray.
When the school bus rolled up to her Woodacres apartment, several students carried her crying daughter off the bus, she said."
The kids were all saying that there had been a fight on the bus and that the driver didn't stop it and kept on driving to reach our stop."
The children told Williams-Gray that the fight had been provoked by a fifth-grade girl, who bullied and then attacked her daughter when she wouldn't give up her jelly beans.
The little girl had a concussion from the attack.  Over jellybeans.  The mother is upset that the school doesn't separate the bigger kids, but that isn't the answer.  The answer is dealing with the issue of kids and violence.  The attack is not even a minute long.  It's not fair to say the bus driver didn't respond, it could take well over a minute to find a place and stop the bus.  However, there is zero mention of any response from the bus driver at all.  If that's the case I can see why the school might be in hot water.

Kids mirror what they see.  That may be the most terrifying thing about this.  This is how they perceive us, and in their uncanny no-bullshit kid way, they see right through us.  And this is what they find at the core.

Saturday Morning Goodness: Welcome Home Edition

Yahoo posted this, and made me smile while it broke my heart.  If you have a moment, you should read the article.  We love our pets so much, and it's hard to find anything as pure as the love they have for us.

This dog is happy to see Dad.

Veeps And Creeps

Orange Julius gets in on the Romney Veepstakes handicapping, although I'm not sure why anyone on either side of the aisle would actually want his opinion on that.

House Speaker John Boehner named three Republicans as potential vice presidential picks for Mitt Romney, but said there is a "long list" of qualified candidates.

The top Republican in Congress said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana fit his criteria that the pick be capable of serving as president.

"There are a lot of people that I like. But this is a personal choice for Gov. Romney, and I'm confident that he'll have a running mate that will be helpful to the ticket," Boehner told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley in an interview set to air Sunday. 

Rubio isn't deadly bland like Portman or Daniels, but with his reasonable stance on immigration, Rubio has zero chance (no matter what Greg Sargent thinks about the GOP backing off on immigration).  But here's the money quote:

"I think the number one quality is, are they capable of being president in the case of an emergency?" Boehner added.

You mean like Sarah Palin?

Paycheck Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Senate Dems are testing just how far Mitt Romney and the GOP are willing to go on their "new" stance that they are the party that supports women, by bringing up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote again this year.  Greg Sargent:

The looming vote could revive a recent controversy that erupted around equal pay issues. On a recent Romney campaign conference call, HuffPo’s Sam Stein asked Romney surrogates whether Romney supports the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which mad e it easier for people to challenge pay discrimination. The campaign at first waffled, but then released a statement confirming that Romney “supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law.” But Romney’s campaign has not said whether he would have signed that law in the first place.

Now Romney’s rhetorical support for pay equity faces another test in the looming Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

This Act would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference, and would make it easier for employees to divulge information about their salaries, which would in turn facilitate deterring or challenging pay discrimination.

Two years ago Senate Republicans opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act, which had strong support from Obama, and it’s likely they will do so again. But Romney is on record supporting “pay equity” in principle, so he’d either have to break with that principle, or break with Senate Republicans, at a time when the battle over the female vote is raging in the presidential race. If Romney supports the measure, it could make passage of it more likely.

After Thursday's Violence Against Women Act vote, opposed by 31 male Republican senators while supported by all the women senators in both parties and all the Democrats, another vote on women's issues that will certainly have an outcome almost exactly the same will just prove the Dems' point:  Republicans talk, Democrats do on women's issues.  You don't get much more Grand Old Misogynist party than that.

The ball now goes to Orange Julius and Mitt Romney.  Where will they stand on those issues, and how big of a split will open up for the Dems to take advantage of?

Going to be a heck of a Mother's Day this year.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Call

The Great Shrill One rises from the depths of reason to infect the Austerians with his beard-tentacles of sanity and common sense and tells a little bedtime story about a fairy (rent asunder by his self-same beard-tentacles, no doubt.)

Critics warned from the beginning that austerity in the face of depression would only make that depression worse. But the “austerians” insisted that the reverse would happen. Why? Confidence! “Confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank — a claim echoed by Republicans in Congress here. Or as I put it way back when, the idea was that the confidence fairy would come in and reward policy makers for their fiscal virtue.
The good news is that many influential people are finally admitting that the confidence fairy was a myth. The bad news is that despite this admission there seems to be little prospect of a near-term course change either in Europe or here in America, where we never fully embraced the doctrine, but have, nonetheless, had de facto austerity in the form of huge spending and employment cuts at the state and local level.
So, about that doctrine: appeals to the wonders of confidence are something Herbert Hoover would have found completely familiar — and faith in the confidence fairy has worked out about as well for modern Europe as it did for Hoover’s America. All around Europe’s periphery, from Spain to Latvia, austerity policies have produced Depression-level slumps and Depression-level unemployment; the confidence fairy is nowhere to be seen, not even in Britain, whose turn to austerity two years ago was greeted with loud hosannas by policy elites on both sides of the Atlantic.

And with Spain and now Britain's Q1 GDP numbers showing big fat recession signs (and a healthy chunk of the Eurozone following suit at this point) the notion that "austerity is the answer because it creates certainty and confidence!" is about as dead now as Sarkozy's chances in France's upcoming elections.  Poor little Confidence Fairy didn't have a chance, you know.  You didn't clap loudly enough, Europe.  (Austerity can only be failed...)

Never forget of course that for the last several years, the "serious" people have been telling us that we had to follow suit or face economic ruin.  US GDP numbers for Q1 came out this morning at 2.2% growth, and while that's down from 4Q 2011's 3.0%, it's still better than what Europe's austerity cultists are feeding upon right now.  Our own zombie-eyed granny starvers (thanks, Chuck) have told us for years now that this was necessary if not vital to our survival, and failure to do so would mean another financial crash.  Meanwhile, the actual application of throttling the spender of last resort in several European countries has -- surprise! -- led to a double-dip recession with no end in sight and even more cuts called for.  We need more of the same stuff that not only isn't working, it's causing more problems.  That never happens with conservatives and economics.

Yet, we face the same exact calls here from Republicans and more than a few Democrats.  They're hoping you don't pay any attention to the fact that what they've said we have to do has been tried and is currently failing miserably in Europe.  Mighty Krugthulhu has of course been saying this for a while now, and all but ignored in the halls of power.  It's looking like that particular era may be coming to an end and none too soon.  Maybe those steely gray beard-tentacles of his can latch on to a few heads and extract the Stupid while he's at it.

What a fairy tale that would make.  Ia! Ia!

Nationally Lampooned Vacations

Conservatives continue to attack Michelle Obama as proxy to her husband, this time over the idea that in a bad economy, the Obama family shouldn't dare go anywhere lest they draw the ire of swing state voters in Republican focus groups.

“They view everything through their own personal situation and if they can’t afford to do it, they can’t enjoy it, they don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,” said pollster John McLaughlin. “In this case, they see him as out of touch. While they are struggling he’s not sharing in that struggle and he’s basically doing what they can’t do on their tax dollars,” added the GOP pollster.

He and several other top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups of independent and swing voters, mostly Democrats, who voted for President Obama in 2008 but who are now on the fence.

McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.

During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”

The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.

What the focus groups are really proving is that the FOX News style propaganda attacks on our "uppity" First Family who should "know their place" and not be so "lazy" and "go on vacation so much" are working with the intended target, at least to some extent.  The First Lady in particular has been savaged for spending "millions" on pricey vacations and top-shelf fashions, all supposedly on the taxpayer dime.

There are two things wrong with it.  One, the costs include security for the First Family, and given the unalloyed hatred these assholes have for the Obamas, I'd say that security is pretty necessary, possibly more necessary that with any other residents of the White House before them.  Second of all, President Obama and Michelle Obama have still taken far less vacations than the Bush family preceding them.  Laura Bush took yearly trips to Yosemite National Park with family friends and Secret Service protection.  The total cost of just the White House trips to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas?  Some $20 million for just the plane costs.

President Bush took 149 trips to Camp David, 77 visits to his Crawford ranch, and 11 trips to his father's Kennebunkport mansion. Since Air Force One reportedly cost $56,800 per hour to operate in 2004 (which Bush used to get to Crawford), and the plane can travel up to 630 miles per hour, it cost at least $259,657 to get the 2,880 miles to Crawford and back, each time Bush went, or roughly $20 million dollars just for taking the plane on the Crawford trips alone. Add in the cost of putting up Secret Service and other staff for the ranch trips, as well as the Kennebunkport and Camp David trips, and you get, well, a lot. 

That's okay, because it's not like Bush crashed our economy or anything while he was busy clearing brush.  There's one big difference in Presidential history when it comes to the Obama family, and that's what these Republican pollsters are pushing among working-class Democrats, trying to get them to abandon the President for being too "elitist" and instead vote for the guy worth a quarter-billion dollars with the multiple vacation homes and cars...or not vote at all.

But don't you dare bring the issue of race into it.

Chart Of The Day

From Ezra Klein, who puts the austerity hysteria to rest:

The yellow line is America.  The red line, the UK, has been stagnant since David Cameron's government game to power in 2010 and appears now to be permanently stuck at 2006 levels.  the entire Eurozone too appears to be heading into stagnation if not outright recession.  Both economies said austerity was the answer.  Both economies are now stuck below their January 2008 peaks where the US and its stimulus package has -- surprise!  Gotten us ahead of the curve and now above where we were in 2008. 

If we had listerend to the GOP and cut spending massively like they demand we do, we would be in the same recessionary boat as Europe.  Period.  If they get into power in 2012, they will do to our economy what conservatives in the UK and the Eurozone did to theirs.  As it is, please note that our economy did stagnate in late '10/early '11 for a couple months there as the new GOP House took power and we ended stimulus spending programs rather than continue them (which was politically impossible).  The President then turned to other methods to boost the economy and you see the curve upwards during the end of last year as things resumed improving despite the GOP trying to sink the economy.

Any questions?

This Is Personal

President Obama wrapped up his two-day tour of college campuses today at the University of Iowa, again calling on Congress to extend a low interest program for student loans.
"This is personal," Obama said while discussing the value of a college education. "This is the heart of who we are."
The president, who said he and wife Michelle just paid off their own student loans a mere eight years ago, also told a friendly crowd of students that "we've got to make college more affordable for more people."
Obama is working hard to bring young people on board.  He wants them to know that an education should be attainable, and not just for the top 10% of whatever dividing line that might prevent higher education.  It's not about money, it's about investing time and energy into being better people, and better citizens.  More education leads to better ideas, better worker, enlightened minds that hatch brilliant ideas.

He is also bringing a new generation into politics.  Young adults are impressionable, and by lending a sense of urgency that is relevant to them, Obama is bringing in young people who will likely take more of an interest in their country.  He isn't promising all of our dreams will come true, just that we should be able to access the tools to make them a reality.

And on the other side we have... Mitt Romney.  The rich boy who thinks it's snobbery for Obama to want education accessible to everyone who wants it.  The guy who thinks women are breeders whose medical choices are up for legislation.  The guy who says he's hip to women's needs because his wife says so.

Talk about no contest.

Saving Truman

This is one instance in which sad puppy eyes really come in handy. A four-year-old Golden Retriever, "Truman," was rescued by Los Angeles Sheriff Department's (LASD) volunteer deputies Sunday. The dog was suffering from dehydration and cut paws while hiking Switzer Falls with his owner, according to the station's press release.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station received a call at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday and assigned reserve deputies from the LASD Montrose Search and Rescue Team to the mission.
Rescuers hiked deep into the Angeles National Forest, placed Truman on a gurney and wheeled the poor guy all the way to his owner’s vehicle.
It just made me smile when I read this.  I've gone through incredible lengths (and more than one bribe) to help animals who are in pain.  Though they don't tell just how his paws became injured, whether it was from the terrain or one specific thing, but the response and the caring shows that good folks do good things.

Thanks, guys.  I needed that.

Cleaning Up A Very Old Mess

Spencer Ackerman over at Wired's Danger Room reports on the Pentagon cleaning house on how it trains our armed forces to deal with Islam.  It's no longer the enemy and treating all Muslims as potential terrorists was never going to work.  Some ten years on in our Endless War, we finally get that fact.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday ordered the entire U.S. military to scour its training material to ensure it doesn’t contain anti-Islamic content, Danger Room has learned. The order came after the Pentagon suspended a course for senior officers that was found to contain derogatory material about Islam.

The extraordinary order by General Martin Dempsey, the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. armed forces, was prompted by content in a course titled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism” that was presented as an elective at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. The course instructed captains, commanders, lieutenant colonels and colonels from across all four armed services that “Islam had already declared war on the West,” said Lt. Gen. George Flynn, Dempsey’s deputy for training and education.

“It was inflammatory,” Flynn told Danger Room on Tuesday. “We said, ‘Wait a second, that’s really not what we’re talking about.’ That is not how we view this problem or the challenges we have in the world today.”

The strong response by the Pentagon brass illustrates growing sensitivity around the issue since Danger Room’s investigation of anti-Islam material in the FBI’s counterterrorism training last September. That story sparked strong condemnation of the training material from the U.S. Attorney General on down, and prompted the White House to order a review of U.S. counterterrorism training last October.

Despite that White House order, the “Perspectives” course, taught since 2004, not only evaded review, but had defenders in the Joint Forces Staff College that taught it.

I may not agree with everything Ackerman believes about the Obama administration's domestic policy, but he's been the most solid foreign policy, military, and national security beat reporter out there for some time, so when he delivers an article of this magnitude, it's worth your time to go read the whole thing.

As far as the Pentagon goes?  About damned time.  Reversing a decade of "raghead sunzabitches" as DoD policy always had to be a vital step towards our evolution in dealing with the Middle East.  Good for General Dempsey.  That's a strong message, and one that needs to be reinforced at every opportunity.

Home, Home I'm Deranged, Part 29

The bottom in the housing market has been called for later this year by Zillow.  Don't believe it for a second.

Online real estate marketplace Zillow said home values rose 0.5 percent in March from February, the largest monthly increase since May 2006 when the housing recession began.

Zillow’s report describing the first quarter follows two other reports about the housing market released on Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index showed average home prices tumbled to their lowest level in nearly a decade, after prices dropped in February from January in 16 of the 20 cities it tracks.

A separate report from the Commerce Department indicated new home sales fell last month by the most in more than a year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 328,000 units.  That followed a 7.3 percent increase in February.

“I think the variety of data points of housing market we’re getting this week all point to a slowly healing housing market,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said. “We think of it as a bottoming process, as opposed to the bottom being a discrete point in time.”

Humphries said the “bottoming process is well under way and is made up of new home sales that have reached bottom and are starting to rebound a bit.”

The Zillow Home Value Forecast shows that national home values will fall 0.4 percent over the next 12 months, suggesting that U.S. home values could reach bottom in late 2012.


What nobody is factoring in (because it's an election year) is, as I've been saying for three years plus now, that the logjam of foreclosures still has to break before the housing market can hit bottom.  Foreclosure numbers are the only things that matter right now.  And those foreclosures are back on the rise.

Rising foreclosures are weighing on the U.S. housing market, reducing prices and keeping new-home sales weak.

Foreclosed homes are usually sold at steep discounts, thereby lowering average prices. And by expanding the supply of low-priced previously occupied homes, foreclosures tend to limit demand for new homes.

Some economists expect foreclosures to keep prices under pressure this year, even though they think sales of previously occupied homes will rise.

Banks are stepping up foreclosures in about half the states. The increase comes after state officials settled a dispute in February with five of the biggest mortgage lenders over foreclosure abuses.

"Foreclosures, excess supply and weak demand will drive home prices ... down at least another 5 percent," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

Five percent?  More like 10% or 15%.  We still have a long way to go on housing prices, folks.  We'll see prices fall more sharply as those foreclosures stalled from last year's Foreclosuregate mess start to be processed en masse and they're free and clear to do so now that the settlement is done.  Expect the banks to rapidly pick up the pace of foreclosures this summer and fall.  Housing prices?  Look out below!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Last Call

News Corp. mogul and FOX head honcho Rupert Murdoch is making friends all over the place back home in Blighty as he takes the stand to answer for the company's ugly little phone hacking and bribery scandal.

During a media ethics inquiry on Wednesday, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch described David Cameron’s disabled son as “retarded” while trying to praise the British Prime Minister as a family man.

In the wake of a hacking scandal at News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World, Lord Justice Brian Leveson asked Murdoch to testify under oath about his bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC.

Only a day earlier, documents released by Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, suggested that a Cameron ally had smoothed the way for News Corp. to take control of the lucrative satellite broadcaster.

Leveson inquiry lawyer Robert Jay asked the older Murdoch on Wednesday if he recalled first meeting Cameron.

“I first met him once, maybe even twice, at family picnics at weekends at my daughter’s house in the grounds of Blenheim Castle (Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire) where he came with his family,” Murdoch explained. “We were overrun with children, there were no politics.”

But I was extremely impressed at the kindness and feeling he showed to the children, particularly to his retarded son,” the News Corp. chairman added. “And I came away talking about this — what a good family man.

And if that statement doesn't perfectly encapsulate just how much of a complete and utter douchecanoe Rupert Murdoch is, nothing ever will come close.

I hope they invent new books to throw at him.

The Man Looks Back, Looks Forward

Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone interview with President Obama is up on the magazine's web site, and it's a pretty good piece.  The President gives some interesting and frank answers on a number of subjects:  Occupy Wall Street, LGBT equality, the Middle East, the GOP, the war on drugs.  The section on race relations in the country however caught my eye the most:

Do you think racial politics and race relations in America are any different now than when you first took office?

Look, race has been one of the fault lines in American culture and American politics from the start. I never bought into the notion that by electing me, somehow we were entering into a post-racial period. On the other hand, I've seen in my own lifetime how racial attitudes have changed and improved, and anybody who suggests that they haven't isn't paying attention or is trying to make a rhetorical point. Because we all see it every day, and me being in this Oval Office is a testimony to changes that have been taking place.

When I travel around the country, a lot of people remark on how inspiring seeing an African-American president or an African-American first lady must be to black boys and girls, how it must raise their sense of what's possible in their own lives. That's hugely important – but you shouldn't also underestimate the fact that there are a whole bunch of little white girls and white boys all across the country who just take it for granted that there's an African-American president. That's the president they're growing up with, and that's changing attitudes.

My view on race has always been that it's complicated. It's not just a matter of head – it's a matter of heart. It's about interactions. What happens in the workplace, in schools, on sports fields, and through music and culture shapes racial attitudes as much as any legislation that's passed. I do believe that we're making slow and steady progress. When I talk to Malia and Sasha, the world they're growing up with, with their friends, is just very different from the world that you and I grew up with.

In many ways he's right:  even in just five years race relations have improved in some ways.  But in other ways, particularly among the white supremacist movement, things have gotten far worse. The country has gotten far more polarized, and those polarizations are far, far more evident now in polite company.

Let's not forget the Tea Party was a ginned up reaction to Obama's election that nearly wrecked this country in 2010 and badly damaged it.  We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but only if Obama gets a second term.

If it's President Romney, we're done.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

And the ni-CLANG clock gets a little closer to The Blackest Hour.

During a Tuesday segment on American Family Association’s AFA Today radio program, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council — a hate group, according the the Southern Poverty Law Center — encouraged listeners to read an article by conservative columnist Sandy Rios which suggests the president is weakening the U.S. so that communists in Russia can “reclaim power.”

“I would encourage you to read the article,” Perkins said. “In society today, we throw around labels a lot and I think we’ve become desensitized and what we’re looking here and what’s Sandy’s bringing up here is not labels. We’re not calling somebody a Marxist, a socialist. … We’re looking at facts.”

“What the media has done — going back to our earlier discussion about the media — is they have attempted to marginalize anyone who challenges this administration on those principles and that driving ideology.”

He added: “You know, it goes back to what they did to those that, you know, questioned the issue of his birth certificate. Look, I don’t know about all that, but I will tell you this: It’s a legitimate issue from the standpoint of what the Constitution says.”

If you still think the President's birth certificate is a "legitimate issue" at this point, there really isn't any other category for you except for "Hard-core racist asshole trying to cover that fact up."   I'm tired of it.  It's complete willful ignorance based on unapologetic hatred of the man.

Revoke this asshole's non-profit status, please.

WTH: Bully In The Classroom Is The Teacher?

(Reuters) - A New Jersey school district has fired at least two educators for verbally abusing autistic children after a father sent his 10-year-old autistic son to school wearing a hidden microphone upon suspecting he was being mistreated by staff.
The audio recordings, made public in a 17-minute video later posted on YouTube, capture educators speaking in harsh tones to the autistic children, including one in which a woman tells the young boy what sounds like "You are a bastard."
"That night my life changed forever," father Stuart Chaifetz said of the first time he heard the recording. "What I heard on that audio was so disgusting, so vile."
The father demands an apology, saying it is about reclaiming his son's dignity.  For six months, he had meetings with the school in response to complaints that his autistic son was acting out of character.  The man was worried about his son's development and taped the events that led to the firing of at least two school employees.

The thing is, while it's great that uploading the video to YouTube had the right results, I'm really worried about the lack of teacher supervision in schools, especially for the most vulnerable students.  In the day of remote monitoring and other technology, I really expected schools to be proactive in recording and watching classrooms, if for no other reason than to deter lawsuits and allegations.

Mistreating autistic children should mean never working with kids again.  However, it likely won't, something that should concern other parents.  Hell, I don't even have kids and I'm worried about it.

Google Drive Off To A Good Start

 It's Google, so of course some people are going to be immediately supportive or dismissive of Google Drive.  I spent a decade with Yahoo and moved last year, and so far I've been impressed.  Google Drive is pretty spiffy, so far.  As I play with it I'm sure I will find bugs and quirks, but it works just like intended, and my Google documents were waiting for me when I logged in.  It works beautifully between my Windows desktop, Linux laptop and Android phone.  I can view my writing, move songs or whatever else I like between devices, and always have my most updated copy.

There are a few problems, but nothing new.  The scheme is obnoxious and the color combinations can be unfriendly.  If you are going to insist on a snow white background, high yellow never practically comes into play.  The lack of customization is the same across all Google products (except Gmail, bless its digital little heart for having a night scheme).  Google Drive has all the goodness you've come to expect, the same issues overall, but no new aggravations, earning it a B+ in my book.  Give me customization in how it appears and we're talking a solid A.  I have written one more "WTF, why can't we have THEMES" review in their request for feedback, so maybe someday they will listen to all of us and implement color choices.  Until then, I have no complaints about the performance or glitches in quality for my documents.  For a writer, that's a big deal, and it beats any sharing system I've used, including Ubuntu One.

Google's integration makes them the leader.  I'm not personally biased and am in fact normally suspicious of the giants.  But if you just look at them in terms of what works, they have them all beat.  The moved into the business market, with more small and medium businesses using Google Docs and Gmail services, and now they will be instrumental into weaning the public away from Microsoft Office.  Once they improve account linking and GIVE THE PEOPLE SOME DAMNED VISUAL OPTIONS they will be the go-to for online storage and activity.

The Barack Ness Monster Drops The Mic On 'Em

With President Obama slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon yesterday, he deftly ensures that his stance on keeping student loan interest rates low will be completely opposed by the GOP in a self-destructive orgy of Obama Derangement Syndrome that will go the way of the payroll tax cut fight as Greg Sargent points out:

Consider the parallels. Just as in the payroll tax cut battle, there’s a looming deadline: On July 1st, interest rates on federally funded student loans is set to double. Barack Obama and Democrats, confident that the politics are on their side, are signaling that they intend to remain on offense on the issue.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders, apparently sensing that this a losing issue for them, have voiced varying degrees of support for extending the low rates. And just as in the payroll tax fight, they insist their only issue is about how to pay for the extension. Yet they won’t say what spending cuts they would favor to offset it.

This well-worn ground look familiar?  It should.

Meanwhile, House conservatives — just as during the payroll battle — are beginning to signal that they oppose the extension, period, full stop. Check out this quote from GOP Rep. Todd Akin, who is running in a GOP primary for the right to take on Dem Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri:

Akin said the government should be out of the student loan market altogether. “America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,” he said. 

For Akin, federal help with student loan debt is an ideological nonstarter. If we start seeing more of this kind of thing from House conservatives, it could limit the maneuvering room GOP leaders need to reach a deal with Dems on how to pay for the extension they say they favor, in order to resolve this issue and put it behind them.

And this college tour and Fallon performance all but seal the deal on this.  The dopes, they are getting their ropes completely a-doped by POTUS once again.  They can't help themselves and have to mash on the A NEW POUTRAGE HAS APPEARED! button like a guinea pig getting a crack pellet.  If this plays out like the payroll tax cut issue (and there's every indication that it will so far) then the GOP will shoot themselves in the foot with yet another group of voters who will learn there's no percentage in voting GOP unless you're the one percent.
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