Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Call

Since I’m feeling kinda floaty today anyway, I’ll warn you about getting out of the boat into Jennifer Rubin country.  Do not go there, brave traveler.  It is a silly place.

The latest media obsession (or is it an Obama campaign talking point?) is to demand Mitt Romney explain how his budget and entitlement ideas differ from those Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). When he declines, the media screams, “Evasion!” 
Why on earth would Romney answer that, and, more important, does anyone care? If the media is really interested in a compare and contrast exercise they can do their own analysis or ask some staffers. Romney, of course, is running at the top of the ticket, and both Romney and Ryan are running on Romney’s agenda. All Romney need do is explain what HE is for and how that differs from the president’s plans. Is there any voter who will decide to vote for or against Romney because of deviations from the plan his VP has proposed? That would be a first.
The media might have a point if Ryan had criticized Romney’s plans or if his own plans were vastly different from Romney’s. But in basic framework there is no difference between the two. They both want to lower tax rates and expand the base. Both Ryan and Romney want to block grant and reform Medicaid. Both favor a premium-support plan for Medicare. In short, they are in sync on every significant fiscal issue, and Ryan has agreed to be Romney’s VP.

I don’t even have to say anything at this point, she is the tautology of terribadness, the existential essence of ERHMAGERD, the dao of derp.

I’ll say it anyway.  Jennifer Rubin is so shamefully awful a shill for Romney, that if his programming included the advanced neural algorithms to approximate embarrassment he’d have to sit her down and let her cry on his synthetic pauldrons for a while until he had to flush his cache.  It actually causes physical pain for me to contemplate how bad the other employees of the Post have to feel when they read Rubin’s whiny, adolescent crap.  Why somebody in charge up there hasn’t told her “look, you’re pretty much the worst political pundit on the planet, and we would actually gain readership on a sustained basis if we fired you just from the intensity of the euphoria generated by your terminated employment” I have no idea, other than I guess they like what she writes.  That thought alone could rip apart suns.

Here’s another thought.  The Romney camp should just hire her.  They really, really do deserve each other, and she can go on pundit shows and say “Why should Mitt Romney have to answer that question?  Who cares?” because why should our media do anything that mitt Romney doesn’t like?  Why should they ask questions when everyone knows the purpose of the media is to crap out talking points like owl pellets and nod seriously?  Heck, then she could get paid in energon cubes or whatever Romneybot runs on these days and we could all be really happy far, far away from the both of them.

Dark Money Days

A new Pro Publica investigation finds that Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity have already spent $60 million in ads targeting President Obama, burying spending by both parties' outside SuperPACs and dwarfing both political parties' internal PACs.  Democrats in particular are getting destroyed by this unprecedented level of spending by these "dark money" groups, which thanks to Congress, don't have to disclose donors and can take unlimited money from those donors.

Crossroads GPS, or Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, is the brainchild of GOP strategist Karl Rove, and spent an estimated $41.7 million. Americans for Prosperity, credited with helping launch the Tea Party movement, is backed in part by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, and spent an estimated $18.2 million.

Campaign-finance reform advocates say the spending by the two organizations highlights the role anonymous money is playing in this election, which will be the most expensive in history.

"First of all, it shows how much desire there is for secrecy among huge donors who want to be able to spend money to influence this election without leaving any fingerprints," said Fred Wertheimer, who runs Democracy 21, a watchdog group. "Secondly, it shows that so far, there is an enormous advantage being played in this election by just two groups that are exercising undue influence in the elections."
In an email, Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS, defended the group's work. Wertheimer's concern reflected partisan bias, he charged.

"Liberal partisans are attacking conservative nonprofits for doing the same things that environmentalist groups, anti war groups, and labor groups have been doing for years without a single complaint," Collegio wrote.

Americans for Prosperity did not respond to a phone call or an email.

Conservative social-welfare nonprofits have spent about $70 million on TV ads in the election cycle so far, compared to just $1.6 million by liberal groups, CMAG data shows. 

Unlimited millions to buy the election?  Republicans have it.  They have enough money to put the Robot/Zombie '12 ticket in the White House, and all they would need is three more Senators, and the Republic is gone.  Of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.  They'll have enough money to run as many ads as they want, and as the election draws near, you won't be able to avoid them.

Until we get a Congress that will overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment, corporations will forever own our political process and our politicians.

Civil Rights, Uncivil Wrongs

So which is more important, one person's religious freedom of creed, or another person's civil rights, when they come into opposition?  The town of Big Sandy, Texas is about to find out.

A Hawkins man is claiming his civil rights and religious freedom were violated earlier this year when a black man sacked his groceries and a Big Sandy grocery store owner banned the customer from the business.

DeWitt R. Thomas filed a federal lawsuit in July against Keith Langston, owner of Two Rivers Grocery & Market.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tyler, Thomas entered the market on March 5 to buy food.

He stated in a nine-page, hand-written lawsuit that he told the grocery sacker, a black man, “Wait a minute, don’t touch my groceries. I can’t have someone negroidal touch my food. It’s against my creed.”

Thomas claimed the cashier was “perplexed” by his request and yelled at him to take his items and leave.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Thomas said, “It’s pretty simple. They treated me really bad because I told them it was against my creed.”

Now, so far at least in the last 50 years or so, the courts have been pretty damn clear that a person's civil rights beats racist "religious freedom to be racist" baloney when you openly claim you have the religious freedom to violate another person's civil rights.

But this is Texas, and this jackass is literally making a federal case over it.  And so we have a case now where one person is claiming his religious freedom of creed is being violated by having a black person bag his groceries.   The more you think about this, the more obvious that it becomes that if religious freedom has its limits, and must, or one could conceivably violate any law and claim persecution under religious beliefs.

But there are a number of Republicans who have openly said that the Civil Rights Act needs to be abolished, and that civil rights simply don't exist.  Would this become the test case to do so?  That's what worries me.  It would have three votes in SCOTUS almost assuredly, if not four, to void the entire law.  Remember, the conservatives on the court had no problem completely annihilating the Affordable Care Act because of what they proclaimed was a legal technicality, and John Roberts basically saved the law out of not being the man who rolled back the clock.

I don't know if he has another one of those in him, either.  So yeah, as moronic as this sounds, the SCOTUS conservatives would find a way to ignore precedent and side with Mr. Negroid Touchin' Ma Groceries here if it meant the end of the Civil Rights Act.

Keep an eye on this case.

License To Fail

A central Indiana judge has granted a preliminary injunction restoring driving privileges for a woman whose license was suspended in June for not having autoinsurance even though she didn't own a car to drive. 
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said the ruling in Marion County could have an impact on others who also have had their licenses suspended.
What brought this about, they do not say.  But this is a perfect example of government fail.  You don't need insurance to have a license to drive a car, so how was this system ever put in place?  It seems the judge couldn't just point to a common sense document and end the case, so this must be on the books somewhere.


New Series Highlights Rapes In Military

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The enormous obstacles and emotional torment that a female solider confronts in reporting a sexual assault in the military are the focus of the three-part Web series "Lauren" debuting Monday on YouTube's new channel WIGS, which focuses on drama for women. 
Featuring "Flashdance" star Jennifer Beals and Troian Bellisario, "Lauren" gives a close-up look at the challenges women service members face in trying to find justice after being raped. It's a problem that military leaders have given unprecedented attention to this year.
Thousand of women reported being raped last year, according to the article and other sources.  There were wide ranges in figures, and the numbers soar higher when even modest estimates are given for unreported rapes.  The most conservative number I found was 2,400.  That's still way too many, and a lowball figure to boot.

Women want to fight to defend their country.  They deserve the same respect as men, and safeguards against men who would do them harm on downtime.  It will always be a problem,  but improvements in policy and attitude could go a long way towards bringing the numbers down and ensuring justice and fair treatment for victims.

They're willing to die for us.  Supporting them is the least we can do.

STOCK-ing Up For The Recess

The House has time to not pass jobs, but it does have time for its little feel-good STOCK Act, which of course actually does the opposite of what House Republicans says it does.  And as usual, the devil is in the details that differ from the Senate version which also sailed through last week.

The House on Thursday joined the Senate in overwhelmingly approving a congressional insider-trading ban.

Now the question is whether the two chambers can make a deal — or whether they’ll find a way to stall over details and prevent a bill from reaching President Barack Obama’s desk.
Both measures passed overwhelmingly — 417-2 in the House and 96-3 in the Senate last week — but the bills differ in some respects.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had released several changes to the STOCK Act earlier this week that broadened the bill’s disclosure requirements and insider-trading ban to the executive branch and ensured that lawmakers convicted of a crime couldn’t collect their pensions.
It also puts in place tougher rules on public officials participating in initial public offerings.
But the bill also scrapped a provision that would have required so-called political intelligence firms to disclose their activities much like lobbyists already do – much to the dismay of Democrats who favored tougher rules on the industry.

Cantor knows how this game works.  He wants to sting Obama, but let the lobbyists continue to be able to play their little games.  Even Chuck Grassley wanted this in, but Cantor dropped his public intelligence amendment like a hot potato.  Hey, Peepaw Chuck, Tea Party doesn't give a damn about FREEDOM and LIBERTY and DON'T TREAD ON ME.  They work for the lobbyists.  All Republicans do.

Whether they want to or not.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert

And credit where credit is due:  Glenn Greenwald does sufficiently manage to capture just how unremittingly awful NBC's new war porn reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" really is, and just how far Gen. Wesley Clark has fallen as he has all but damned himself as the ringmaster of the proceedings, but equally complicit in this hell is out Village media and the military complex that owns them, lock, stock, and smoking barrels.

Venerating the military is such a common American cultural ritual that one barely notices when it happens any longer. This morning, ABC News‘ Jake Tapper pointed to a fun, playful video of his ABC News colleague, Pentagon correspondent Luis Martinez, jumping out of a military airplane with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army team that regularly parachutes into football stadiums during halftime as the adoring crowd cheers. In the four-minute video, Martinez plays the role of the hapless clown, acting goofy and nervous with his manly, stoic military guide, Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Figel, over whom Martinez openly slobbers and to whom he is symbolically tied as he jumps.

That worshipful, tongue-wagging fun and games with the U.S. military might not be the most appropriate activity for someone who is supposedly an adversarial reporter covering the Pentagon would never occur to any of them, because, like NBC, they’re just practicing America’s national religion — military worship — and who would ever object to that? Martinez was the reporter who gave anonymity to military officials to smear Michael Hastings over his Rolling Stone article that ended the career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, allowing the anonymous officer to claim — falsely — that the quotes used by Hastings were off the record. Martinez did the same when he gave anonymity to a military officer to falsely attack a story by Jeremy Scahill exposing the network of secret prisons in Somalia which the U.S. effectively operates. Nobody practices this religion of military worship like the Pentagon Watchdogs who work at the nation’s major television networks.

I hate reality shows.  I'm not too particularly fond of watching military video games either, but dropping Todd Palin and Dean Cain into Call of Duty and expecting me to watch is pretty much a brand new low. Greenwald concludes:

It’s actually necessary that America have a network reality show that pairs big, muscular soldiers with adoring D-list celebrities — hosted by a former Army General along with someone who used to be on Dancing with the Stars – as they play sanitized war games for the amusement of viewers, all in between commercials from the nation’s largest corporations. That’s way too perfect of a symbol of American culture and politics for us not to have.

Even I have to agree with him on that sentiment.  I can't think of a show I want to see be pulled faster from a network than this for a variety of reasons:  it's crude, shallow, it glorifies our military and demeans our troops as lavishly trained animals, but most of all it's bread and circus nonsense that given the actual horrors of war is a bridge way the hell too far.

It also neatly absolves the drooling armchair generals we already have in Washington, too.  They're the ones who send real people off to die quite real deaths, and often cause all new ones from innocent bystanders.  I understand war is necessary whenever there's human conflict, but there's no need to glorify it like this to sell fast cars and beef jerky.

To hell with this show.


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