Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last Call

Looks like the Democrats will make their party stance on marriage equality official at the Charlotte convention in September.

Democrats appear ready to embrace same-sex marriage as part of their party platform, a policy shift that reflects the rapidly growing acceptance of gay rights in mainstream politics.

Party officials met over the weekend in Minneapolis and approved the first step to amend their platform. In two weeks, the entire platform committee will vote on the matter at a meeting scheduled in Detroit. Then, if approved as expected, it would move on to convention delegates in Charlotte, N.C., for final approval in September.

According to Democrats who were briefed on the vote in Minneapolis, there was no objection when the issue came up. Though the language that was voted on still could be revised, party officials do not anticipate any major obstacles going forward.

The platform language approved over the weekend also included a condemnation of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.

Your move, Republicans.

Oh wait, you've already made it.  Back to the middle ages, that is.  Please, tell me again how there's no difference between the two major political parties, folks.

Twilight: Fade To Black

Robert Pattinson is moving out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart.  According to TMZ, a U-Haul was spotted outside the former couple's home.

After Stewart's highly public apology, Pattinson remained silent.  The marriage of director Rupert Sanders may also be in jeopardy, as his wife has made at least one comment that cast doubt upon their future, expressing the sentiment that sometimes things fall apart so other things can fall together.

To make it even more uncomfortable, Stewart is scheduled to play in the sequel, once again under Sander's direction.  She will also have many public appearances with Pattinson while they promote the final Twilight movie.


Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

You know you're a winger when your reaction to stories like this...

Northern India's power grid crashed Monday, halting trains, forcing hospitals and airports onto backup power and providing a dark reminder of the nation's inability to feed a growing hunger for energy as it strives to become an economic power.

While the midsummer outage was unique in its reach - it hit 370 million people, more than the population of the United States and Canada combined - its impact was softened by Indians' familiarity with almost daily blackouts of varying duration. Hospitals and major businesses have backup generators that seamlessly kick in during power cuts, and upscale homes are hooked to backup systems powered by truck batteries.

...is banal crap like this, from Daily Pundit's Bill Quick.  

That’s more than the entire population of the U.S.

The article seems to indicate that the grid was quickly restored. I’m not so sure that would be the case if the U.S. grid ever went down this hard.

Yeah Bill, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid we improve the nation's power grid there.  I know, tax cuts will surely cure any infrastructure issues we have along these lines, if you'll excuse the pun.  The invisible hand will get around to burying our major power lines any time now.

How Hot Is It?

It's so hot that the Ozark Empire Fair is reporting low numbers.  People just can't take the heat, and after we have begged for more than a decade to move the fair to a more logical time, customers are voting with their feet.

According to one source, today is supposed to reach 106 degrees, with at least 80% humidity.  For those of you who are fortunate enough not to live in the steam bath we call home, this is enough to be dangerous for every creature outdoors.  From livestock to mail delivery, anyone who is outside is risking heat exhaustion or worse.

By the numbers, we have had 147 emergency room visits due to the heat, carrying our part for the state total of 962.

I understand we're not alone in this heat wave, and most of our readers are feeling the same effects we are.  Stay cool, and if you are able, put out some water for animals and birds who are desperately trying to stay alive.  Also, for you rural folks, deer are moving in record numbers seeking water and food.  Drive safe, as they are causing an unusual number of accidents for this time of year.

City Council Sticks It To Springfield Again

Before you dismiss this for being Springfield, realize it could happen anywhere.  My folks are just above the curve when it comes to being stupid, that's all.

Regardless of the result at the polls Aug. 7, Springfield will not have a City Council primary in February.
Held whenever three or more candidates file for the same council seat, the primary has suffered from low turnout and comparatively high costs in recent years.
Council members decided in May to ask voters to do away with the February contest, but state legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon beat them to it.
bill Nixon signed into law earlier this month eliminates the February election date for everything but bond issues and the presidential primary; the bill also axes the June election date, which the city at times has used for tax renewals and petition elections.

Because of low voter turnout, the option to vote is being taken away.   With our governor's blessing, no less.  By using cost as a determining factor, they make it even more arbitrary and dangerous.  Since when is the privilege of voting subject to cost analysis?

Opponents say the price is justified. Groups including Live Free Springfield and the newly formed Citizens Rights Coalition have said the lack of a primary could make it more difficult to unseat incumbents and could allow candidates to be elected without majority support.
“(The primary) was instituted because people were getting elected with less than 20 percent of the vote, and that will happen again,” said Sharlee Lawless, a spokeswoman for the Citizens Rights Coalition.
Believe me, there will be more coming on this.

A Healthy Debate About Israel

It's funny, Republicans hate government health care and the individual mandate for health insurance.  But they love Israel.  Which emotion matters more?  Well, when you're in Israel, the choice is obvious.

But during his trip to Israel, Romney inadvertently praised the individual requirement and universal health care. “[F]or an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel,” he said. And according to The New York Times, Romney spoke favorably about the fact that health care makes up a much smaller amount of Israel’s gross domestic product compared to the United States:
“Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the G.D.P. in Israel? Eight percent,” he said. “You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”
Israel spends less on health care because of a universal health system that requires everyone to have insurance. Every Israeli citizen has the obligation to purchase health care services through one of the country’s four HMOs since government officials approved the National Health Insurance Law in 1995. People pay for 40 percent of their HMO’s costs through income-related contributions collected through the tax system, and the state pays the remaining 60 percent. And by many standards, Israelis are getting better health care than U.S. citizens. The infant mortality rate is much lower, and its mortality rate due to heart disease is half the U.S. rate. 

Boy, Republicans must really despise those socialist hellholes like Israel, right?   I mean they have even more government intervention than Obamacare does and they've knocked health care costs down to a fraction of ours, with better results.  Obviously Israelis are living under a despotic tyrant who any Romney administration would immediately oppose.


Knee Deep In Koch-A-Poo

What does a right wing foundation, legions of winger bloggers and your own hack author buy you for your Citizens united free speech money?  If you're the Koch brothers, you use the change in your couch to buy a "devastating new bombshell" that Barack Obama really didn't give the order to kill bin Laden and therefore deserves no credit.  Luckily, Hart Williams over at His Vorpal Sword is there to illuminate us all that the "bombshell" author is Richard Miniter, of not, one, not two, but three Koch brothers outfits:

Institute for Humane Studies is Charles Koch’s pet and first “foundation.” You know, like Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, both of which came from their original Koch parent “Citizens for a Sound Economy.”  Eric O’Keefe — currently heading the Sam Adams Alliance, and formerly President of Americans for Limited Government — sits on its board of directors.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute comes of the same ideological parentage. Here was their “journalism fellowship” awardee (cash) for 1995-1996: Michelle Malkin. CEI gives out a big award every year. In 2006  the winner was John Stossel (formerly of ABC now of Fox) and in 2001, it was Stephen Moore, then of the Cato Institute (Koch controlled) and founder of the “Club for Growth.” Now a Wall Street Journal editorial board member.

There's a shocker.  And we see what the Kochs are buying here:

Notice any pattern here? How about “Bin Laden was CLINTON’s FAULT!” followed by “We’re WINNING the war on terror!”

Now somehow Obama’s GETTING bin Laden is a bad thing, an accidental thing, a questionable thing.

Ham-handed swiftboating from an author of questionable objectivity with a long Koch employment and an ideological axe to grind.

And, of course, the professional character assassins at the Daily Caller (funded by Foster Friess) cite the pre-publication copy they’ve mysteriously acquired as a “BOMBSHELL REVELATION!”

Election coming up. Obama’s signature achievement in the “War on Terror” must be disparaged and destroyed. Book comes up with perfect timing from a “New York Times best-selling author.” You know, like Paris Hilton or Snooki or the Kardassian sisters.

Doesn't matter if it's true or sourceable or corroborated.  But a couple months of "Was Barack Obama really responsible for making the call to get Osama bin Laden?  A new book claims..." on all the "news" channels followed by GOP pit bulls growling "How dare he take credit!" and watch the swing voters fall away.

We're knee deep in Koch-a-poo and it's rising higher by the day.  Pretty soon it'll be "Remember when Dubya killed bin Laden after that Obama guy lost the Twin Towers?"

Laugh.  The people who'll believe that?  Their votes count just as much as yours do.  The Kochs know that.  They're counting on it, in fact.

Have you registered anyone to vote this year?  Time's running out.  We need you out there to help fight this, and the only way we win is by voting.

While we still can, of course.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Call

Turns out not only do I owe TPM's Paul Werdel an apology for spotting this on Friday where he flagged down that the Romney administration really is making a serious foreign policy shift by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's rightful capital, but that he was right for reasons that I didn't even consider.  In his speech Sunday, he declared a sea change in US policy if he is elected:

Romney's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital was matter-of-fact and in keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

He did not say if he would order the embassy moved if he wins the White House, but strongly suggested so in a CNN interview.

"My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital (Jerusalem)," he said, adding, "I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel."

His remarks on the subject during his speech drew a standing ovation from his audience, which included Sheldon Adelson, the American businessman who has said he will donate millions to help elect Romney to the White House.

So not only was Werdel right when he said this on Friday:

So, accepting that Romney is aware of the significance, it seems likely he’s prepared to signal a very real, very controversial departure from decades of U.S. peacemaking policy, and put the weight of his potential presidency behind a declaration that he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. That would be a very big deal

...but Romney apparently really has decided to throw away any pretense that Bibi Netanyahu does not control our foreign policy totally.  The Palestinians are livid:

US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is “harmful” to US interests in the Middle East, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday.

“Romney’s declarations are harmful to American interests in our region, and they harm peace, security and stability,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

“Even if this statement is within the US election campaign, it is unacceptable and we completely reject it. The US election campaign should never be at the expense of the Palestinians,” he said.

“Romney is rewarding occupation, settlement and extremism in the region with such declarations.”

Romney is insane.  I absolutely believe electing him means open war with Iran now.  All indications are that Netanyahu used Romney to say what was on his mind to attack President Obama, and Romney was more than happy to go along, doing the bidding of a foreign leader to go after the President.

That's the kind of guy Mitt Romney is, of course.  In order to score campaign points, he's using a foreign power to do it with on top of now hoping to force President Obama to change decades of stated US foreign policy to benefit a foreign power.  That's dangerous as hell.  Romney doesn't care.  He'll do anything to win.

Even if it means a major diplomatic incident.

Voting Against All Odds

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a major story today on widespread voter disenfranchisement in the state, finding that Ohio regularly tosses thousands of valid votes due to a combination of a "confusing maze of state laws, administrative directives and court rulings on voting procedures, errors – by voters and poll workers alike – and other factors".  Republicans will of course tell you it's working as intended.

    The problems call into question both whether every Ohioan’s vote will be counted Nov. 6 and whether the state, always pivotal in close presidential races, can assure the nation a timely, accurate and lawsuit-free count.

    “If the Wednesday headlines the day after the election say, ‘All eyes are on Ohio,’ it probably won’t be a good thing,” said Ed Foley, an Ohio State University law professor and a nationally respected expert on election laws.

    In Hamilton County alone, hundreds of votes are routinely disqualified in major statewide elections because they are cast in the wrong precinct, often only feet from the correct location. Hundreds more votes have been tossed out for another relatively minor miscue: voters’ failure to seal an inner envelope containing their absentee ballot.

    “Every vote is a voice,” said new Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter, who owes her election to a federal court ordering local officials to count some contested 2010 ballots. “People fought, bled and died for the right not only to vote but to have that vote counted.”

And yet the disenfranchisement is -- surprise! -- most likely to happen in Ohio's three largest urban counties, Hamilton (Cincinnati), Cuyahoga (Cleveland), and Franklin (Columbus).

    The Enquirer’s examination of how well Ohio is prepared for November found:

    • Unless voters take a more proactive approach about how and precisely where to vote, poll workers improve their performance over past elections or courts order new changes before Election Day, tens of thousands of ballots are likely to be disqualified.

    • Ohio has adopted only a few of the changes recommended after the 2008 election to improve registration, Election Day and vote-counting procedures.

    • All 88 Ohio counties have prepared lengthy election administration plans outlining their preparations for November, including recruitment and training of poll workers, steps to ensure that individuals vote in their correct precinct and how to process ballots. Some, however, have failed to make adjustments that could help remedy past electoral problems.

The bottom line is that in a state that may be decided by a few thousand votes, we could see tens of thousands of votes thrown out.  A healthy chunk of them will be in the state's most urban districts.  Nothing's changed since these institutionalized problems cost John Kerry the state and the election in 2004, problems created through years of neglect.  Now Ohio may decide the White House or control of the Senate once again.

And keep in mind, Ohio does not have strict Voter ID laws like neighboring Indiana or Pennsylvania.  Imagine if it did.  Tens of thousands more would be disenfranchised.  And this will only get worse.

Video Stupidity: Paralyzed Woman Uses Bionic Suit To Walk

"Walking never gets old for me," she says looking at the camera.

Moving is something most of us take for granted.  If we want something across the room, we can hop up and get it.  Some of us even complain at having to expend the energy.  But for someone who can't walk, it's a miracle to be able to move again. 

Bomb Threats Now 80% Off

At least seven Walmarts across Missouri were evacuated this week because of bomb threats, KCTV reports.
Stores in Gladstone, Raytown, Nixa, Ozark, Jefferson City, St. Peters and Piedmont all received threats Friday evening.
Dan Fogleman, a spokesman for Walmart, told The Kansas City Star that any retail establishment may be subject to such an event. He added however that it was uncommon for so many to be threatened in one evening.
"We're concerned anytime someone makes a threat that may endanger our customers," Fogleman told the paper. "We're grateful that no one was injured and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. We will work very closely with police in these jurisdictions."
Nixa and Ozark were among those affected, but none within Springfield city limits.  Was this an orchestrated prank?  A distraction or response test?  Nobody seems to know yet.  However, people were more annoyed than concerned by the bulk of the reports.  I'm pretty sure no blowout on school supplies is worth my safety.  There have been no more calls since this original incident.  If an update becomes available we'll share it here.

Follow Up To Marine Story

I got a few comments and quite a few emails about the marine story that ran yesterday.  Let me add just a couple of things, in a way that I think will reach most of our readers:

1.  I apologize for the soldier comment.  I do not come from a military family, and I did not realize that the word did not apply to all who fight on behalf of their country.  I used the wrong word, and would never intentionally offend anyone who risked life and limb to protect me.  I did not check dictionary.com before using the word soldier, but when I went there this morning it does clearly mention a person serving "in an army" and did give a general definition of someone with military skill.  I sent them a note explaining our conversation here, to make amends for what is clearly a common misunderstanding of how the word soldier applies to Marines specifically.

2.  I got a couple of comments that seemed to think I was saying this was unheard of for a Marine.  I did not intend to sound shocked beyond belief that a Marine would show this level of dedication.  I think it's amazing, generous and beyond awesome.  But I am not surprised, I simply felt it should be shared so we see another side, and can enjoy simple pride in the goodness of another person.

I hope that resolves the bulk of the comments, and thank you all for correcting my choice of phrasing.

Oops! Where Did I Leave That Kidnapping Victim Edition

NEW YORK -- An NYPD detective has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found tied up in his Queens garage, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
Sources say Ondre Johnson, a 17-year veteran of the Brooklyn North gang unit, was being questioned by internal affairs about his involvement in the kidnapping of a 25-year-old victim off the street early Friday morning.

A ransom note was left, and there is some confusion as to what this detective played in the kidnapping.  Several men have been arrested, including a cousin of the detective.

In the meantime, for the first time outside of a bad 80s movie, he has been "stripped of his gun and badge" while this is sorted out.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Things that Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Wario" Scalia thinks you have a right to:  rocket launchers.

In the wake of a massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, host Chris Wallace asked Scalia if the Constitution would support assault-type AR-15 rifles and 100-round clips.

The justice explained that under his principle of originalism, some limitations on weapons were possible. Fox example, laws to restrict people from carrying a “head axe” would be constitutional because it was a misdemeanor when the Constitution was adopted in the late 1700s.

“What about these technological limitations?” Wallace wondered. “Obviously, we’re not now talking about a handgun or a musket, we’re talking about a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute.”

“We’ll see,” Scalia replied. “Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that can not be carried. It’s to ‘keep and bear’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons.”

But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to — it’s will have to be decided,” he added.

Things that Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Wario" Scalia thinks you do not have a right to:  birth control.

During an interview on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Scalia why he believed that it is a “lie” that women have a Constitutional right to abortion.

“Nobody ever thought that the America people voted to prohibit limitations on abortions,” the 76-year-old conservative justice explained. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that.”

“What about the right to privacy that the court found in 1965?” Wallace pressed.

“There’s no right to privacy in the Constitution — no generalized right to privacy,” Scalia insisted.
“Well, in the Griswold case, the court said there was,” Wallace pointed out.

Yeah, it did,” Scalia agreed. “And that was wrong.”

But please go ahead and tell me how it doesn't matter if Romney gets to pick a couple more Supreme Court nominees in the next four years.   Also, what the hell is a Supreme Court Justice doing on FOX News?

Wimping Out

You think the media is a little pissed off at Mitt Romney over shutting them out of his Israel trip and only letting them in at the last minute?

Romney: The Wimp Factor

I'm going to say "yes".

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned ... French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca—except that he doesn’t even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann—did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, “like a helpless papoose”?

Like I said, the Romney campaign declared war on the Village back in early July.  Only one problem:  the Village has now decided to fight back.  Things just got interesting, because as Mitt is finding out, the only thing worse than our fickle, power-hungry, egotistical press is our press in a bad, bad mood.  On the other hand, the plan to attack the press worked wonders for Sarah Palin.

Too bad Mitt Romney isn't Sarah Palin.  McCain was on to something in 2008 after all.  After all, when Bibi Netanyahu owns your testicles...yes, you get called a wimp.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Call

Shorter Romney camp to America's press:  Know your role and shut your mouth as the Romney team decides to put an end to the gaffe factory by simply excluding the media on his trip to Israel.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who touched down here Saturday night for a day of meetings with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders, plans to wrap up his visit to Israel by collecting money from some of his biggest benefactors behind closed doors.

Some of Romney’s Jewish donors are flying here from the United States to attend the Jerusalem fundraiser on Monday morning, including Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to personally give tens of millions of dollars to a pro-Romney super PAC.

But Romney’s campaign announced Saturday that it would block the news media from covering the event, which will be held at the King David Hotel. The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination and began opening some of his finance events to the news media.

Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences.

Campaign spokesman Rick Gorka declined to explain the campaign’s decision to violate protocol with the Jerusalem event. Pressed repeatedly by reporters to offer an explanation, Gorka said only that the fundraiser was “closed press.”

“That’s all I’ve got for you — it’s closed press,” Gorka said. 

Translation:  screw you for the London trip.  Your job is to help Mitt get elected, not "report objectively on the facts".  This is the Romney camp putting the media "in its place" for daring to report on unflattering news.  LA Times political reporter Maeve Reston summed it up on Twitter:

The length to which Romney has gone to try to avoid making news on this trip is beyond mind-bending. Why are we here again? 

To which she gets a brutally truthful answer from National Review's John Podhoretz:

@MaeveReston Who told you to go along?

Such is our "media".  The Romney camp declared you the enemy weeks ago if you had been paying attention.

By the way, can you imagine what kind of coverage and what kind of screaming Barack Obama would have gotten by going to a foreign country, holding a fundraiser with billionaire fat cats, and then closing it to the press?

Think about it.

Arms Akimbo

Negotiations for the UN Small Arms Treaty, globally regulating the flow of firearms, has completely collapsed.  Some are blaming President Obama.  Smarter people are blaming the NRA and the gun lobby that controls our politics.

The United Nations indefinitely suspended action on an international arms trade treaty Friday after the United States and several other countries asked for more time.

The decision sparked angry reactions from human rights groups often allied with the Obama administration, who believed a treaty to regulate the export of deadly weapons to rogue regimes was within reach. The UN had spent the entire month of July hammering out a deal, and Friday was the deadline for an agreement on a treaty that has met with the staunch opposition of the National Rifle Association and bipartisan concerns in the Senate.

“This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line,” said Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. “It’s a staggering abdication of leadership by the world’s largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough that would have required all nations to deny arms export licenses where there was an overriding risk that the weapons would be used to facilitate serious crimes against humanity.”

And Scott Stedjan, Oxfam America’s senior policy advisor, called the failure “a tremendous loss for thousands of innocent civilians around the globe who die each year from armed violence fueled by the unregulated transfer of arms.”

The treaty never would have passed the Senate, period.  Under no circumstances would the United States ever ratify an international gun control law.  Blaming President Obama for "stunning cowardice" is pointless when our Senate is bought and paid for by the NRA and firearms makers.  The treaty itself only affected transfers of firearms to foreign countries and specifically was changed to protect the Second Amendment, but that of course meant the gun makers couldn't ship thousands of weapons to rogue regimes and warlords willing to pay big bucks.

Doesn't matter.  Our society is ill and corrupt in many ways, and this is one that will continue to kill for years to come.

Touching Story Passes Snopes Test

Ah, Snopes, you made me proud today.

I compulsively check the rumor-crushing site that lets me know when circulating stories are made up or embellished.  I checked this one out, fully expecting it to be confirmed as too good to be true.  Stuff like this doesn't just happen.  Except this time it did.  That awkward moment when you expect something to fail and it blows you away instead.

The super condensed version will never touch the full story, so please read it here.  The condensed version goes like this: 12-year-old boy has been sick his entire life.  After beating leukemia for a third time he contracts a brain infection that is going to kill him because of his compromised immune system.  He has expressed repeated admiration for Marines.  The Marines decide to make him an honorary member.  The boy's health fails, and one soldier stood guard outside his hospital room all night until he passed away.  The solider and the boy's family stay in touch.

That's all I can do without tearing up, but please check it out.

Senseless Stupidity

(CBS News) WASHINGTON, Mo. - A 17-year-old Missouri mother was killed when her car was hit by a truck driven by a 13-year-old girl.
Authorities say a Franklin County Deputy was on Highway 47 around 12:04 a.m. early Friday when he saw the 13-year-old's truck cross the shoulder line.
The deputy tried to make a stop, but the suspect did not yield.
Deputies said the driver lost control of the truck while approaching the intersection of Highway 47 and Highway 100. The truck then hit 17-year-old Aubrey Nothum's Mazda, which was stopped at a traffic light.
This is the sort of thing that I read over with my niece and nephew.  They are old enough to think up stunts like this and young enough to possibly give in to stupidity.  The reality is, dumb kids do this all the time.  Unfortunately, the reality is also that things like this can happen.  A mother gone, a child left to grow up never having known her, and a teenager left with guilty and memories that will never go away.  Everybody loses, and it was all preventable.

I Was Blind But Now I See

The conversion of climate change skeptic and UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Mueller to a believer in the overwhelming data supporting man-made climate shifts was to be expected, but let's remember that his skepticism was turned into a cause celebre' by the wingers and the Koch Foundation, who gave him a lot of money in order to test his skepticism.  He did and found that it's the deniers on the right who have always been full of hot air.

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases. 

These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming. In its 2007 report, the I.P.C.C. concluded only that most of the warming of the prior 50 years could be attributed to humans. It was possible, according to the I.P.C.C. consensus statement, that the warming before 1956 could be because of changes in solar activity, and that even a substantial part of the more recent warming could be natural. 

Our Berkeley Earth approach used sophisticated statistical methods developed largely by our lead scientist, Robert Rohde, which allowed us to determine earth land temperature much further back in time. We carefully studied issues raised by skeptics: biases from urban heating (we duplicated our results using rural data alone), from data selection (prior groups selected fewer than 20 percent of the available temperature stations; we used virtually 100 percent), from poor station quality (we separately analyzed good stations and poor ones) and from human intervention and data adjustment (our work is completely automated and hands-off). In our papers we demonstrate that none of these potentially troublesome effects unduly biased our conclusions

I'm hoping that this will put an end to the debate and allow the country and the world to move on to try to do anything before it's too late.   Sadly, there's little to no chance of that as long as Republicans and the uncaring corporate masters remain in power over our political process.  Mueller too calls for action:

What about the future? As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the temperature should continue to rise. I expect the rate of warming to proceed at a steady pace, about one and a half degrees over land in the next 50 years, less if the oceans are included. But if China continues its rapid economic growth (it has averaged 10 percent per year over the last 20 years) and its vast use of coal (it typically adds one new gigawatt per month), then that same warming could take place in less than 20 years. 

Science is that narrow realm of knowledge that, in principle, is universally accepted. I embarked on this analysis to answer questions that, to my mind, had not been answered. I hope that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes. Then comes the difficult part: agreeing across the political and diplomatic spectrum about what can and should be done. 

Sadly, as long as our politics are controlled by people who believe that evolution never happened and that the Earth is 6,000 years old, we will continue to do absolutely nothing.  Another 1.5 degrees in 20 years would be a catastrophe.  And yet if nothing changes, the summer of 2012 here in the US will be considered mild by comparison very very soon.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Last Call

Here's hoping House Republican Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp of Michigan recovers fully from his recent diagnosis of treatable cancer, he has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and will be undergoing chemo treatment.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has been diagnosed with a "very early, highly treatable and curable" type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and will undergo chemotherapy during the next few months, his office announced Saturday.

As chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Camp heads one of the most powerful panels on Capitol Hill. The news comes as the House is set to vote on an extension of all the Bush-era tax rates for one additional year, with guidelines for enacting comprehensive tax reform in 2013.

Per the statement from Camp's office:

“After a recent routine yearly physical, it was discovered that I have a very early, highly treatable and curable type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma – large B-cell lymphoma. My treatment will take place every three weeks over the next few months. It will consist of a series of chemotherapy sessions. In between treatments I will continue my work as a United States Representative for Michigan’s Fourth District and as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Thankfully my health is otherwise excellent and my doctors and I expect a full recovery and cure. My family and I appreciate the support, good wishes and understanding we have received.”

That's good to hear, all politics aside, cancer is something I would never want to see anyone suffering from.

Having said that, as a member of Congress, Dave Camp has no worries about medical bankruptcy or being able to pay his medical bills, and he'll get the best treatment available, even if he wasn't a multimillionaire.

And Dave Camp has a serious problem it seems with people getting health insurance assistance from the government.  Oh, not seniors on Medicare, no.  Just poor people who probably vote Democrat if they vote at all.  He says he wants to craft "common-sense solutions" but of course he has no actual plan.  None of them do.

But he has no problem with you going bankrupt trying to treat your cancer, our Dave.

It's nice to be one of the one percent, isn't it?  Now shut up and get back to work.

Re-Birther Of The Uncool, Part 5

The racist birther assholes will never accept a black President, so they will keep up with the BLACKITY BLACK BLACK birther nonsense for the rest of eternity.

This is what we're up against, folks. This is how Mitt Romney will be your next President unless you give enough of a damn to vote.

Game On In London

Going to have a series of updates of Olympic action daily, so if you're trying to avoid results until NBC's tape delayed nonsense...why are you on the internet in 2012?  Seriously, adapt.

Anyway, I have to lead off with JM Ashby's epic rant against NBC's awful plan last night to A) not livestream the opening ceremonies live and B) turn the 3 hour proceedings into nearly 5 hours of commercials interspersed with Matt Lauer refusing to shut the hell up.

Co-anchors Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira spent the next several hours cracking the Macy’s Day Parade equivalent of fart jokes concerning everything from the dramatic opening ceremony, to the names of some the nations in attendance, to the uniforms worn by some of the athletes, to the demeanor of Queen Elizabeth. And that was between the more than a dozen commercial breaks to sell us boner bills, luxury cars, and anti-Obama attack ads.

Professional pontificator and obvious Romney fanboy Bob Costas also chimed in to say that no matter what your political ideology is, you “have to admit Romney saved the Olympics.”

No, Bob. No we do not. Although if you want to discuss how Romney accepted a federal bailout of the Olympics, I’m game.

Both the overseas reaction to Mitt Romney’s London stumble tour and NBC’s shithouse coverage of the opening day of the Olympics reminded me just how embarrassing, incompetent, and unprofessional the American media is. And not to absolve ourselves from blame — Americans have also become too complacent. We don’t demand better, and it’s time for us to start.

Amen to that, JM.  Amen to that.

Hot Dog, What A Conundrum

Nathan Duszynksi, 13, said he decided to open a hot dog stand in his hometown of Holland, Mich., to help out his disabled parents. His mother has epilepsy and his father has multiple sclerosis.
He saved $1,200 – mostly money he made by mowing lawns and shoveling snow – and bought a cart.
He also checked with the city to make sure he didn’t need any licenses or permits, and even went to city hall in person with his mother.
“We wanted to make sure,” Nathan’s mother Lynette Johnson told WFMY News. “We stopped in there in person about a month ago and asked, ‘Do we need a business permit license?’ and [the city] said no.”  
Only 10 minutes after arriving to set up Nathan’s Hot Dog Hut on July 17, a city zoning official shut him down.

The problem was the location.  The city was unable to allow him to sell hot dogs from that particular spot.  However, they expressed regret, and are trying to find ways to help the boy make this work.  He's a good kid and he followed all the proper channels in an effort to be responsible.  While all food carts are banned from this area, the ban isn't citywide.  It's nice to see them work to try to find a compromise, or change the ordinance.

To add more generosity of spirit, a local business bought the food cart at a significant profit to Nathan.  They will allow him to use it for special occasions.

That's doing it right.

What A Pip

The Jackson Family Meltdown of 2012 has everyone talking, from water cooler conversation to celebrities throwing in their two cents. Gladys Knight even had something to say on a "The Talk" recently:

Thanks to the fine folks at TMZ:

Gladys appeared on "The Talk" Thursday ... saying, "Paris is 14? How old is Janet? Who's the one to try to direct the other one here? I would think it's a good thing [Janet] lets Paris know who she is."
Gladys added, "If [Paris] called me that, she would have no teeth ... That's how we were brought up. You respect your elders."
I would like to point out that it would help if the elders acted like elders.  Or acted like they gave a crap about the kids and their welfare.  Or about their brother, who died too young.  Nope, they care that the cash cow is dead and the money is up for grabs.  They should be ashamed of themselves, even if the drugging and other rumors turn out to be false.

Personally, I admire Paris Jackson.  She is too young to be facing all of this.  Whether through drugs or poor judgment, Katherine Jackson abandoned them and left them at the mercy of the siblings who are trying to tear the family apart for profit.  Paris showed she has some spine, and I have yet to hear of her chasing down the Jackson family members to start trouble with them.  So already, she's one up on the "elders" so deserving of their respect.

I think it's surprising that some folks totally understand why Katherine Jackson was exhausted, and why they siblings are so stressed, but nobody considers that this young girl is not only involved in the same exhausting situation, most of it is directly coming at her.  Her family is hostile right now and she only has her own siblings to look to for comfort.

You can watch the video to see how Janet acted, reaching to snatch a phone out of her niece's hands and  according to multiple sources calling her a spoiled little bitch.  On video, Janet was the one blocking her entry into the home, invading her personal space and trying to intimidate a child.  Paris remained calm, stood and looked her right in the face and told her to get the eff out of her house.  Now, how old is Janet?  How old is Paris?  Who acted like the grownup?

Nuff said.  Get these kids some real protection from these vultures.  And someone get Gladys Knight a tall, refreshing glass of STFU while we're waiting.  Advocating knocking the teeth out of a girl who has been through the death of a parent and the harassment of family (to the point of it likely being criminal) ever since that death... well, I say she gets to stand up for herself.  She has a right to be royally pissed.  Paris Jackson  knows more about what's going on that we do, Knight, or even the investigators.  So far that kid has shown more character and composure than most of the people surrounding her.  Let's give her our best, shall we?

Romney's Really Silly Israeli Melee

TPM's Paul Werdel has an interesting theory on the latest Republican poutrage involving White House spokeman Jay Carney and Israel:

The Romney campaign had at time of writing on Friday sent out two separate e-mail press releases chiding the Obama administration for its “refusal to say whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
One quoted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and another, former Minnesota Senator and Romney surrogate Norm Coleman.

Now it’s worth noting this was long the easy rhetoric of some of the less serious contenders throughout the GOP primary. But coming from Romney, the party’s nominee-to-be, it would signal something far more significant.

I suppose it’s possible the Romney campaign is so unaware of the realities of the Middle East peace process, however moribund it may be, that they’re unconcerned with just how inflammatory an American president’s expression of support for an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be to the Arab world. But even with the stumbles Mitt Romney has made this week on the international stage, that seems unlikely.

So, accepting that Romney is aware of the significance, it seems likely he’s prepared to signal a very real, very controversial departure from decades of U.S. peacemaking policy, and put the weight of his potential presidency behind a declaration that he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. That would be a very big deal. 

I'm going to go with Occam's Razor here and say that given the evidence of the last month and especially the last week, the Romney campaign is staffed by foreign policy morons and/or cynics who will simply assume that FOX viewers don't know any better, so it's completely fine for them to say "Carney won't admit that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel! LOL!  OBAMA IS SO STUPID!" and they'll get away with it.  I'm leaning towards the latter, but the former cannot be completely discounted, either.

Werdel has some serious journalism chops coming to TPM from Al Jazeera English and BBC News and I'm glad to see such a blindingly qualified hire for Josh Marshall, but I'm going to respectfully volunteer that he has a bit to learn about how "journalism" in the United States works, especially when it comes to Republicans manipulating their base with voltage spikes to the lizard brain.  The average American will tell you of course Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and won't think twice about Tel Aviv, Haifa, or any other city in the country, completely unaware of the nuance or the internationally disputed status of the city.

I suppose the Romney campaign could be fronting Jerusalem as Israel's capital as a major US policy shift, but I would count that as the least likely.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

How much do the wingers hate President Obama?   This much.

Does billboard comparing Obama to alleged shooter go too far?

This billboard is currently up in Caldwell, Idaho near Boise in the state's Treasure Valley region.  Yeah, I know Idaho is about as red as it gets out west, but even the stoic people of Boise are a bit taken aback by, you know, openly comparing the President to a mass murder suspect.

The group that owns the board, The Ralph Smeed Foundation, says it wants to draw attention to military men and women dying overseas.

"(It's) way over the line, and I am not an Obama supporter," Lynn Davis Hathaway, said on the KBOI 2News Facebook page.

Hmm, the Ralph Smeed Foundation? Seems Idaho's most famous "libertarian" died in 2010.

Smeed, who was 88 years old, served in the Army during World War II, and then returned to his hometown of Caldwell.  He became active in Republican politics before starting his newspaper column in the Lewiston Morning Tribune in 1974.  He also started a think-tank called the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives in 1976, which published some of his writing.

Rick Coffman, a newspaper editor who became friends with Smeed in the early 1970s, carried Smeed’s columns in the Idaho Press-Tribune each Sunday on the editorial page.  “Ralph was all about ideas and principles, that those would sustain the country through good times and bad,” Coffman said.

 “Ralph fought all his life for what he believed – the value of a limited government, individuals having the freedom to choose what is best for them, that when government does something ‘for’ someone it does something else ‘to’ another someone.”

Coffman added, “Ralph is the only person I have ever known who I am convinced did exactly what he wanted to do every day of his life. We should all be so lucky.”

Many people learned of Smeed’s views from his reader board that included both policy opinions and partisan jokes, including “I would rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than riding in a car with Ted Kennedy.”  Smeed received some notoriety in the past few years for messages questioning President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

The three word slogan at the top of the reader board, “Making Statism Unpopular,” may been the message he was most interested in promoting.

Oh good, he was basically Glenn Greenwald's cranky uncle from the Gem State.  And of course he was an Obama-hating birther asshole.  All "libertarians" are it seems.

Just call him Hitler already.

Oh wait, the wingers did that too.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Call

Remember, racism simply doesn't exist anymore because we have an African-American President.

A black couple in Crystal Springs, Missouri says that a predominantly white Baptist church refused to let them get married because of their race.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson told WLBT that the day before they were to be married, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs informed them the ceremony would have to be moved due to the reaction of some white church members — even though the couple had attended the church regularly.

“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson explained.
“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” Te’Andrea Wilson added. “I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”

Dr. Stan Weatherford, the church’s pastor, was forced to perform the marriage at another church after he was taken by surprise by his congregation’s outrage.

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” Weatherford said. “I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’ Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”

Church officials said they would hold meetings to decide what to do if another non-white couple wanted to use their facility in the future. They insisted that all races were welcome at the church.
Oh you're welcome...unless you want to get married.  Otherwise, take your blackity black black asses on outta here.   If you're wondering why I'm agnostic and for marriage equality, this nonsense right here is exactly why.  Explain to me when all these asshole conservatives do is say "You black people don't have good Christian values like we do" and then when you get a black couple willing to join your congregation and get married at your church, you threaten to vote them out?

What the hell makes you think they would want to stay after that?  Where are the loving values you claim to hold dear when you do this to anyone?  I'd say you should be ashamed, but that apparently left the train station years ago.  Do you teach your kids these values, so that 25 years from now a new generation has to put up with this stupid, racist garbage, too?

I don't know what to think, other than it's been a looooooong day.

The Kroog Versus Banging Our Heads Into A Wall

Second quarter GDP numbers have once again summoned Mighty Krugthulhu from the depths, beard tentacles of sanity clutching charts for all to behold.  How'd we do?

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 2.0 percent.

Better than having our faces kicked in, I guess.  Kroog comes along with his comprehensible glare and injects reason into your mind.

Here’s a chart. It shows changes since the second quarter of 2009, which was both the bottom of the recession and the earliest point at which you can plausibly say that Obama had any influence on actual policy. I show nonresidential fixed investment — basically business investment — and government purchases of goods and services:
Business investment has actually gone up a lot; maybe you think it should have gone up even more, but it’s not the heart of the problem. On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of cutbacks in government — mainly at the state and local level, but federal aid could have avoided that.
This isn’t a picture of an economy hobbled by Big Government; it’s a picture of an economy hobbled by premature austerity.

Like I keep saying, the economy is pretty much doing what the Republicans say the economy should be doing, that is cut government spending (down $120 billion or so) and let the private sector do its invisible hand thing (up about twice that).  The result:  exactly what you would expect, a mehburger GDP report because we're, you know, wiping out a whole bunch of private sector economic activity stimulus by wrecking government spending.  This is the stated GOP plan in action right now as we speak, and gosh it kind of sucks.

You think we would then ramp up government spending, but Republicans are all insane and need to have anvils dropped on them.

There Are Bad Decisions...

...and then there's Power Line's Paul Mirengoff, defending Joe Paterno.  Well, one of his lawyer friends does, at least.

The only evidence of Mr. Paterno’s involvement is a passing reference in an email from [former Athletic Director] Curley to [former university President] Spanier and [former university Vice-President] Schultz that says that Curley “touched base with the coach. Keep us posted.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. A second email from Curley to Schultz that says “Coach is anxious to know where it stands.” Freeh Report at 20, 48. There is no other information about Mr. Paterno’s involvement in the incident. In fact, the Freeh Report does not even establish that the references to “Coach” refer to Joe Paterno. The most it can and does say is that “[t]he reference to Coach is believed to be Paterno.” Freeh Report at 49. The Freeh Report cites no evidence to support this assertion, but even if “Coach” refers to Coach Paterno, what do these emails prove? The answer is: nothing. At most, these emails suggest that Mr. Paterno was concerned and wanted to know whether Sandusky was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Of course, if Mr. Paterno did express concern about the matter, then the question becomes: what did anyone tell him about the allegations and the investigation?

The Freeh Report provides no answer to this question. The Report does not provide any evidence about what Joe Paterno knew about the 1998 allegations against Sandusky. The Report does not provide any evidence about what Mr. Paterno did or said, or what anyone said to Mr. Paterno. Indeed, the Freeh Report suggests that both law enforcement and the University police agreed that nothing improper happened and that the allegations lacked merit. Did anyone tell Joe Paterno about those findings?

OK, at this point, may I say that Joe Paterno, as Jerry Sandusky's manager, had a decade-plus to do something and didn't.  Does that make him legally culpable?  That's arguable, and that's why we have courts of law.  Does it make him the worst head coach in any sport ever?  Pretty gorram much. But by all means, explain your theories to Sandusky's victims and their families.  I'm sure the'll be glad to listen to why Joe Paterno probably didn't break any laws in covering up more than ten years of sexual assault of kids, so it's okay.


A Gallery Worth Viewing

I normally don't like photo galleries or slides.  This is an exception to the rule, and I think it's worth sharing.  Faces of Addiction takes photos and stories of addicts that really do tell a story.  Photographer Chris Arnade will challenge our ideas on who addicts are and how they became addicts.  From the death of a loved one to an unexpected windfall leading to a coke binge, he touches on such a wide section of people that we can see how devastating and destructive addiction really is.

Not all addicts look like addicts.  Not all addicts are criminals, or would be criminals if they could just kick their habit.  Some destroy themselves on purpose, others are blind to what they are doing.  But photos don't lie.

It's easy to write these people off.  That is a shame we all should bear.

Modern History

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --   A disagreement over a gambling debt and a pocket watch led to what some call the first true Wild West showdown.  It was on July 21,1865, when Wild Bill Hickok shot Davis Tutt dead in Springfield's town square.
The feud became the stuff of legend -- retold and embellished in magazines and dime store novels, and re-enacted throughout the years.  Now the city is bringing this 147-year old tale back to life.
The recordings, which are voiced by Springfield employees, are linked to a series of YouTube videos.
The videos are linked to nine QR codes located around the square where it all happened nearly a century and a half ago.  Using any Smartphone with a QR code scanner -- there is one on the KY3 app -- place it over the code, click on it, and learn about the dispute between Hickok and Tutt.

Springfield's square has actually seen a remarkable amount of history, most of it sad.  However, this has been local legend for years, with rural schools even doing an occasional field trip to the area to see where Hickok made us famous.

What is extra exciting is the QR code approach and the video connection that can use downtown's free WiFi to show the videos.  This is big news for a city that a few years ago was determined to remain in the dark ages.  I can't wait to check out the videos.  Of course it has to be dramatized, but it would seem attention was paid to as much history as can be verified.  There are enough local historians to keep them honest, I would imagine.

I had to share this, my sweet city is making me proud!

Eat Mor Vile Speech

You have no idea how much it galls me to agree with Glenn Effing Greenwald on anything, but he's right about Chicago Mayor Rahmbo going after Chik-Fil-A and denying them a permit to operate a franchise in the city for the sole reason that their President is a homophobic asshole.

Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them.

But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage:
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has said Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston” because of [Chick-fil-A President Dan] Cathy’s discriminatory stance.
On Wednesday, the tag team of Emanuel and Moreno joined the chorus, citing Cathy’s anti-gay views.
Yes, Chicago, Dan Cathy is a homophobe, a bigot, and an unapologetic assclown.  I refuse to eat at Chik-Fil-A for the sole reason that Cathy is a continued hateful bigot.  But the Constitution is pretty gorram clear about what constitutes free speech, and the Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on that fact in March of 2011 saying that our old friends, the anti-gay bigots of Westboro Baptist Church, have the Constitutional right to say awful things about people.

You can't deny Chik-Fil-A a permit because Dan Cathy is a bigot.  Period.

As my Salon colleague Mary Elizabeth Williams noted when writing about the controversy in Boston: “Aside from the fact that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, there’s no evidence those beliefs have been institutionalized in any way. There’s no record of refusing service to gay patrons, or unfair hiring practices, or a hostile work environment.” Indeed, Joe Moreno, the Chicago alderman who represents a “hipster ward” and who initially blocked the business’ expansion, made clear that he was motivated not by any alleged discriminatory business practices but solely by “bigoted, homophobic comments”: namely, the Chick-fil-A President’s view that the Bible mandates marriages be between men and women only. And as Williams noted, the company oversees a “foundation that’s contributed financially to” numerous right-wing groups: Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, among others.

That's awful of them.  But it is not illegal to have that opinion.  Defense of free speech in the United States requires that clear cases of vile speech like this are protected and cannot be used to punish an organization.  It requires accepting that fact.  It requires vigilance and swift legal action should those opinions become discriminatory action, but the opinions themselves are valid.  You have the right to have those opinions, and I have the right to disagree with them.  That's how America works, people.

Glenn Greenwald is someone I rarely agree with and in fact his transgressions against logic, discourse, reason, and propriety are well documented.  But he is right here, this is Constitution 101, folks.

And as far as Rahmbo goes, you screwed it badly, man.  Let these guys open their restaurant.  Then don't eat there.  But you treat them in accordance to the letter of the law.

I have an opinion too:  screw Chik-Fil-A, and screw the people who eat there.  Constitution allows me to say that right here.  Your mileage may of course vary.  By the way, Facebook?  That means Dem strategist Karl Frisch gets to post this.


Do we understand the whole "vile speech is protected under the Constitution" thing now?


London Mitt Is Falling Down

The plan was simple:  Mitt Romney goes over to the London Games to tout his own Olympic organizer credentials in Salt Lake in 2002, and to burnish his foreign policy credentials with our closest European ally.  Instead, yesterday's Mittastrophe performance was so staggeringly pathetic it got to the point where Romney's multiple-day series of gaffes has the British press now openly mocking him.

First, Romney insulted his hosts Tuesday:

Strictly speaking, this one isn't Romney's fault, but still, the media loves a narrative, and this comment certainly plays into it. Before the trip had even begun, a Romney "adviser" was quoted as saying the Republican contender would be better placed than Barack Obama to sustain the transatlantic relationship with the UK because of a shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage

Then he did it again on Wednesday:

On Wednesday, the day he arrived in London, Romney was interviewed by NBC's Brian Williams. In a softball warm-up question, Williams asked Romney about his wife's horse, Rafalca, which will be in competition in the dressage, and whether Britain looked ready to host the Olympics. Easy, surely? Not for Romney.

"There are a few things that were disconcerting," Romney said of the event which has been 15 years in the planning and is expected to cost over £9bn.

"The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Then he stepped in it, forgetting the name of Labour party opposition leader Ed Miliband.

On to a meeting with the leader of the opposition Labour party, Ed Miliband – a man often criticised for being awkward and lacking a common touch. They should have got on famously. But Romney seemed to forget Miliband's name. "Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning," Romney said.

Then he botched it by admitting he met with the head of Britain's super-secret MI6, another no-no.

The existence of MI6, the international arm of the British secret service, was not officially acknowledged until 1994, 82 years after it was established. But the organisation is still shrouded in secrecy, and its operations – and the diary schedule of its chief – are rarely acknowledged. But here comes Romney, in fully open mode: "I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and the opposition here as well as the head of MI6". 

After that, he bobbled a comment about backsides.

There are two things you should know before you "look out of the backside of 10 Downing Street", as Mitt Romney did on Thursday.

Firstly, in Britain, "backside" means "ass". As in the part of the body. Secondly, "10 Downing Street" is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as "the White House" can say things or have opinions.

And it got so bad, London Mayor Boris Johnson called him out at the city's pre-Olympics rally yesterday.

"The Geiger counter of Olympo-mania is going to go zoink! off the scale! People are coming from around the world, and they're seeing us, and they're seeing the greatest country on Earth, aren't they? There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preparations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?"

Even Prime Minister David Cameron politely told Mittens to bugger off back to Utah.

Promising London would deliver, the Prime Minister said it had been challenging to host an Olympics in one of the world's busiest cities rather than the “middle of nowhere”, where it would be easier.

And now this morning, Mitt faceplanted again on his geography.

Mr Romney was asked in his interview on Thursday evening whether he had been aware of his roots in northern England, where his great-great-grandfather, a carpenter from Preston, was one of the first Mormons in Britain some 175 years ago.

“I knew that my ancestors came from here,” he said. “I know Miles Romney and Miles Park Romney – these are the folks that came and helped settle the West.”

Asked whether he felt “partly English” as a result, a chuckling Mr Romney replied: “Well, I’m married to a girl from Wales, and I’m a guy from Great Britain. So I feel like this is home too, I guess.” 

Great Britain is the island, Mittens.  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the country.  And I'm betting between bouts of massive laughter that the residents want you to toddle off back to your Aspen mansion and stop being such a complete wanker.

Folks, if Mitt Romney can't handle a trip to the effing Olympics without making America look like a bunch of morons, how can he possibly handle real foreign policy situations involving China or Pakistan or North Korea or Israel?  He's actually made Sarah Palin look competent here.  I mean, it was bad for Mitt before, but now he has no credibility in foreign affairs at all.

And we've got another day of fantastic blunders to go.  God save the Queen.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Last Call

It's good to know that our old friend StrangeAppar8us is back among the living at Rumproast.  He's been through hell...literally...and is back.

The good news: while Strange was fully committed to dying on a night some eight months past, the allure of Death now escapes him, and he is fully committed to reassembling the motives and tools that once made him one of the most dedicated writers in any arena. StrangeAppar8us wants to live. He wants to live more and better than he ever lived before. And above all, he wants to spend more time with you—my fellow ‘Roasters, who expressed their sadness at my absence, and web chums like Michael Berube and Mr. Wonderful and John Cole and Roy Edroso and Tbogg and Thers and asiangrrl and meep-meep (and endless others), who praised my work and wished me luck, and, in many cases, gave generously to the welfare fund that is currently helping to rebuild my life with talking computers and recording devices that can turn a blind man back into a writer.

Do drop by and say hello.  The world was getting dimmer without your wit, man.  Good to have you back.

Why Aurora Will Accomplish Nothing

Our politicians are not just beholden to special interests, they are completely terrified of the power they wield in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike.  The NRA controls your Congress utterly, America.  GQ's Reid Cherlin interviews the mysterious Anonymous Democratic Hill Staffer:

We do absolutely anything they ask and we NEVER cross them—which includes asking permission to cosponsor any bills endorsed by the Humane Society (the answer is usually no) and complying with their demand to oppose the DISCLOSE Act, neither of which have anything to do with guns. They've completely shut down the debate over gun control. It's really incredible. I'm not sure when we decided that a Democrat in a marginal district who loses his A rating from the NRA automatically loses reelection. Because it's not like we do everything other partisan organizations like the Chamber [of Commerce] or NAM [National Association of Manufacturers] tell us to...

Pandering to the NRA is the probably worst part of my job. I can justify the rest of it—not just to keep the seat, but because I believe most of the positions he takes are consistent with what his constituents want. But sucking up to the NRA when something like Colorado happens is hard to stomach.

And so it goes.  And while Democrats are making excellent inroads in states like Arizona and Colorado, the NRA can and will shut down any Democrat without a built-in 15 point lead.  That's why nothing gets done on gun control.  Fear.

Mitt's Making Friends

At least he didn’t use the phrase “You people”.

Mitt Romney’s Anglo-Saxon Disaster Tour 2012 rolls on as the Telegraph reports on Romney’s efforts at diplomacy in advising the Brits on how to run an Olympics.
But [Romney] told US television there were “disconcerting” signs about Britain’s readiness. “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” he said. “There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

G4S, a private security company, provided thousands fewer staff than were expected, forcing the armed forces to fill the gap. British immigration officers had threatened to go on strike during the Olympics, but this ultimatum was called off on Wednesday. The Government insists that all preparations have been made and the event will be a success.
Nonetheless, Mr Romney questioned the enthusiasm of the British public. “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?” he asked. “That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
What a mensch, our Mittens.  It’s a good thing the GOP has a presumptive nominee who didn’t go over to the London games and embarrass the country or anything, trashing the President while overseas, making mildly racists remarks or insulting one of our oldest allies.  That was certainly close.

Next time, can we just send Rafalca Romney on over?
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