Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Call For All The Money

To recap, 2013 marked the fifth straight year of record US corporate profits.


But corporate taxes are too high and crushing business, and our economy is stalled out.  Or it could be that the rich are screwing us over at a record pace.  Corporate profits in the US have tripled since 2000.  Median real wage growth since 2000 for workers?  Flat, if not fallen. 

The American worker hasn't seen a dime from the these massive profits.  Now keep in mind that Republicans want to cut corporate taxes further to give corporations more profit.  They're not investing it in workers or wages or jobs, that's for damn sure.

So where's it going?


The top 1% account for about 40% of the wealth in this country, which is a terrible problem.  But that's misleading.  The bottom half of the top 1% account for only 7%.  The next 40% of that is about 11%.  But the top tenth of the one percent account for more than 21% of the wealth, and the top 1% of the one percent alone has 11% of the wealth of the entire US.  That share for the super-wealthy has doubled since 1998.

So the money is not going to anyone you know.  Not to your paycheck.  Certainly not to your schools or roads or water mains.  The rich are getting richer.  The rest of us are getting nothing.

But let's keep voting for Republicans who want to eliminate corporate taxes while telling us a rising tide floats all boats.  It floats yachts.  It drowns those who can't afford the damn boat.

Burned Out And Hungry

The United Nations has issued its first major report on global climate change since 2007, and the 2014 version is far more dire and feeding the world will only get worse as nations like the US and China continue to ignore the situation.

Global warming makes feeding the world harder and more expensive, a United Nations scientific panel said.

A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger "hotspots of hunger" among the world's poorest people, and put the crunch on Western delights like fine wine and robust coffee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in a 32-volume report issued Monday.

"We're facing the specter of reduced yields in some of the key crops that feed humanity," panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in press conference releasing the report.

Even though heat and carbon dioxide are often considered good for plants, the overall effect of various aspects of man-made warming is that it will reduce food production compared to a world without global warming, the report said.

The last time the panel reported on the effects of warming in 2007, it said it was too early to tell whether climate change would increase or decrease food production, and many skeptics talked of a greening world. But in the past several years the scientific literature has been overwhelming in showing that climate change hurts food production, said Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science and lead author of the climate report.

We've wasted another seven years since the last report and effectively done nothing thanks to the GOP and corporate America.  There's no reason to believe anything will improve in the future when nearly half of a major American political party doesn't believe the problem even exists (or in evolution, or the fact some Republican senators think that the Earth is only 6,000 years old for that matter).

So no, it's not going to get better as long as the anti-science wing of the GOP continues to wield outsized power.

A Strong Right Croissant

France's xenophobic (if not downright white supremacist) Front National party is making big gains in the countryside after Sunday's local elections.

Marine Le Pen, FN leader, said her party now has up to 1,200 municipal councillors.

“Today, we have clearly entered a new phase in our implantation (in national politics)," she said. "Today the Front National is shaking up the traditional duo of the Socialists and (centre-Right) UMP.”

Sunday's runoff round of voting came after a week that saw French unemployment surge to a new record - making a reverse of first-round losses by the Socialists unlikely, and a cabinet reshuffle by Mr Hollande possible as soon as Monday.

Some 80 per cent of the French want him to dismiss Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, according to a Harris Interactive poll this week, and Manuel Valls, the ambitious and tough-talking interior minister, is their favourite to replace him. Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, is also seen a contender.

Final turnout last Sunday was 63.5 per cent - a record low for local elections in a country with a strong attachment to its mayors, who wield considerable power.

Dissatisfaction with Mr Hollande's tenure and a string of legal intrigues involving opposition conservatives were expected to dampen turnout. Next presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2017.

Hmm, record low turnout in regional elections leads to big gains for far-right wing nutjobs.

Now where have I read that story before?


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Last Call For Swing State Voter Suppression

As I keep saying, the entire point of Republican voter ID laws is to make fewer Democrats vote. 2014 and 2016 will remain uphill battles as long as these laws are in place in swing states like Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls.

The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote.

Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.

Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.
In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.

There's no other explanation for this other than Republicans want fewer people to be able to vote, period.  Higher turnout helps Democrats, as 2008 and 2012 showed.  When turnout is low, as in 2010, Republicans win overwhelmingly, if not crushing Democrats completely.

If Republicans can reduce black and Latino turnout by 10% in swing states, they're no longer swing states.

They're red states.  And the GOP knows it.

The Best Free Speech Money Can Buy

This is how our politics works in the post-Citizens United era:  super wealthy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson spent $92 million on the GOP in 2012 and feels he is entitled to purchase the Republican candidate (and President) in 2016.  As such, Republican hopefuls flocked to kiss his ring this weekend as he hosts the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual convention.

Several prospective Republican presidential candidates have gathered in Las Vegas for the opening round of what has been dubbed “the Sheldon Primary,” an event emblematic of how warped the system for financing presidential elections has become.

The Sheldon Primary is named for Sheldon Adelson, the wealthy casino owner who, with his wife, poured more than $92 million into the 2012 elections. Despite all that money, Adelson made some bad bets in the last election, first on former House speaker Newt Gingrich to win the Republican nomination and then on Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama in the general election.

He is now looking toward 2016 with a fresh eye, determined, according to The Post’s Matea Gold and Philip Rucker, to find a non-extremist candidate who can actually win the presidency. Those who are looking at running would be happy to have that kind of financial support. Some of them have come to Las Vegas on Friday for a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, but also to meet privately with Adelson.

Adelson has become a symbol of the new system of financing presidential elections. He and others play under legal rules. But this new financing structure has had a corrosive effect on public confidence in government and politicians. It is why so many Americans feel shut out of the process.

One trained seal barking for cash this weekend at So You Want To Be President is Ohio's own governor, John Kasich.

Gov. John Kasich can say all he wants that he isn’t interested in running for president. Yet here he is this weekend, along with a few others whose national ambitions are far less ambiguous, rubbing elbows with top donors.

Kasich delivered the luncheon keynote Saturday at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring conference, held at casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s opulent spread on the strip.

“All the things we believe in? They work,” Kasich told a ballroom crowd of about 300.

They're all here, because Adelson owns every single one of them.

Besides Kasich, the list of Saturday speakers included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador.

Jeb Bush the former governor of Florida, headlined a private dinner for upper-level RJC donors Thursday evening. And former Vice President Dick Cheney will speak Saturday evening over dinner. There are plenty of other faces familiar to political junkies, too, including Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under President George W. Bush.

All of them are auditioning to Adelson.  What GOP voters actually want, Adelson will tell them.  $100 million is chump change to a guy worth tens of billions.

The Ghost Of Bushie Future

The Romney Country Club wing of the GOP is getting very, very nervous about not having anyone who isn't completely insane in 2016 to try to stop Hillary Clinton.  To that effect, they're taking a page from the Clinton playbook and running the fundraising numbers on drafting Jeb Bush.

Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.

Concerned that the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has damaged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political standing and alarmed by the steady rise of Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), prominent donors, conservative leaders and longtime operatives say they consider Bush the GOP’s brightest hope to win back the White House.

Bush’s advisers insist that he is not actively exploring a candidacy and will not make a decision until at least the end of this year. But over the past few weeks, Bush hastraveled the country delivering policy speeches, campaigning for Republicans ahead of the fall midterm elections, honing messages on income inequality and foreign policy, and cultivating ties with wealthy benefactors — all signals that he is considering a run.

Many if not most of Mitt Romney’s major donors are reaching out to Bush and his confidants with phone calls, e-mails and invitations to meet, according to interviews with 30 senior Republicans. One bundler estimated that the “vast majority” of Romney’s top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.

“He’s the most desired candidate out there,” said another bundler, Brian Ballard, who sat on the national finance committees for Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. “Everybody that I know is excited about it.”

The same geniuses who gave us Johnny Volcano and Mister Forty-Seven Percent are now betting their billions on Jebbie.  And he'd have even more baggage than the two of them combined, with his brother's failures, his father's failures, and his own myriad of screw-ups as governor of Florida, starting with charter schools and Stand Your Ground.

The Screeching Shamnesty crowd will never accept him either, and the GOP's only remotely useful argument "Can America really afford another Clinton in the White House?" evaporates the second Jeb Bush gets involved and reminds all the voters of the recessions, depressions and economic destruction the last two of them caused.

Over on the other side of the fence, Jazz Shaw asks an important question involving Jeb:

But in order for this next primary cycle to play out according to the preordained script, we have to have a big, conventional wisdom, establishment candidate to face down the grassroots upstarts, right? And if turns out that Christie is damaged goods and it’s not Bush, then who would it be?

Good question.  Not a whole lot of candidates left for the big money wing who aren't already also-rans from 2008 and 2012.  There's a reason why Jeb was passed over twice.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Last Call For Earl Ray Doing The Right Thing

Democrats in West Virginia broke with the party and passed legislation for a 20-week abortion ban, when earlier this year the Supreme Court found such a ban in Arizona to be unconstitutional.  The West Virginia bill headed to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who rightfully vetoed the bill as a waste of taxpayer resources as it meant defending something that would be struck down by SCOTUS as unconstitutional anyway.

Earlier this month, the West Virginia legislature became the first Democrat-controlled body to pass a 20-week abortion ban. The legislation would have made it a felony, punishable by no less than a year in prison, to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases where a woman's life is endangered, according to the Charleston Gazette.

Tombin said in a statement that he voted the bill because his legal team advised him it was unconstitutional and added that the legislation unduly restricted the physician-patient relationship.

"All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options," he said in the written statement. "The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers.”

What a crazy concept, having legislators stay out of doctors' decisions for their patients.  Oh wait, isn't that the same agument the wingers use against Obamacare (only that's not true, the bill doesn't legislate doctors' decisions.)

Republicans sure seem to like having big government tell doctors how to do their jobs, however.  Funny how that works.

Not Helping On The Climate Thing

Just to make it clear, there's helpful strategies for dealing with climate change deniers...and then there's Gawker's Adam Weinstein, who thinks it's time to start dealing with professional climate deniers through legal means as they put all of us in jeopardy.

I'm talking about Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I'm talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I'm talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.

Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.

Deniers will, of course, fuss and stomp and beat their breasts and claim this is persecution, this is a violation of free speech. Of course, they already say that now, when judges force them into doing penance for comparing climate scientists to child-rapist and denial poster-boy Jerry Sandusky.

But First Amendment rights have never been absolute. You still can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater. You shouldn't be able to yell "balderdash" at 10,883 scientific journal articles a year, all saying the same thing: This is a problem, and we should take some preparations for when it becomes a bigger problem.

Willful, profiteering public deniers of climate change can compare themselves to Galileo all they want, pretending that they're voices of sanity in a cruel wilderness. But Galileo had science on his side. He had a telescope aimed at the cosmos. Climate deniers have their heads jammed in the sand... or in a barrel of money.

I agree with Weinstein that the multi-billion dollar effort to convince Americans that there is nothing we can or should even bother doing about climate change is pretty awful.  Unfortunately, it's not criminal.  (However I have the same problem with anti-vaxxers, and at least you can make individual child endangerment arguments there from a legal standpoint.)

But this is entirely unhelpful and just feeds the "climate cult/persecution complex" that all of these guys are counting on.  It's playing into their hands and frankly, it's stupid to do so.

The entire point is that this is a battle of public opinion, and Weinstein is doing more damage than good.  Besides, the real problem is of course Republicans who are trying to make climate research all but illegal in the first place.

Weathering The Storm

House Republicans have decided that if they pass legislation to simply force NOAA to stop doing climate research, then the problem just goes away from both a scientific and political aspect.

House Republicans want government scientists to focus on predicting storms, not climate change.

The House will vote next week on a Republican bill to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to focus its efforts on storm predictions instead of researching climate change.

Members will consider the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act, H.R. 2413, as early as Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) introduced his bill last year after tornadoes hit his home state. Those storms led him to argue on the House floor the government spends too much on climate change research and not enough on developing weather forecasting tools to predict tornadoes and other events.

His bill does not explicitly kick the government out of the climate change business. But it does say NOAA must "prioritize weather-related activities, including the provision of improved weather data, forecasts, and warnings for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy, in all relevant line offices."

Last year, Bridenstine released a statement saying the intent of the bill is to "protect lives and property by shifting funds from climate change research to severe weather forecasting research."

"The bill does not increase spending but rather shifts funding to make improved severe weather forecasting a higher priority of the Federal government," he said in July.

In other words, "tornadoes kill people, climate change is a myth, you can't have money for both."  And of course if you don't support this bill, you want tornadoes to kill schoolkids.  This'll pass the House easily, and probably the Senate.

After all, if we can't predict the exact path of a tornado 12 hours down the road, how can we possibly predict climate, because derp.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last Call For Rep. Mike Rogers

Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, head of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, is retiring.  But don't cry for him, he's heading for the wingnut talk radio circuit where the real money is.

“There is a whole celebrity political class in Washington, D.C., today that I think is doing a huge disservice to the functionality of our national security — who are using it to foment their isolationalist tendencies — and I think it is dangerous, really dangerous,” said Rogers, also criticizing some Republicans for “talking just like Obama’s foreign policy.”

He’s been a lonely voice, he says, for rational debate about what U.S. intelligence agencies do to protect the country.

“I don’t think I can change that dialogue unless I have a national platform,” he said

He downplayed his importance in Congress, saying a citizen legislature required new blood.

“Everybody knows their time. This institution is going to be fine — maybe even better off — who knows,” he joked.

He said he will become a radio talk show host for after his term ends in December — returning to a college passion. He plans to have former intelligence officials and ex-spies on his show but will also be talking about topics across the political spectrum.

“I did one radio show when I was in college that was a disaster — let’s give it a whirl — maybe I’ve gotten better at it,” he joked.

Rogers’ new radio show will air nationally starting in January as a syndicated host at Cumulus Radio.

“It gives me a chance to talk to people in their cars, in their living rooms, in their kitchens about these issues — about American exceptionalism, about national security,” he said.

 Cumulus owns hundreds of radio stations across the country, so his show will get national airplay.  It won't be the last you hear of this guy, that's for sure.

Governor Skeletor Collects The Loot

Why shouldn't Gov. Rick Scott use corporate lobbyist cash to fund his trips when the GOP has total control of the government in Florida and can write laws to make it legal?

Months before Florida Crystals Corp. won a no-bid contract to farm sugar on state-owned land, its top lobbyist and president met with Governor Rick Scott in the home of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

They got access during a 2012 trade mission underwritten by corporations including the company, which is co-owner of the Domino Sugar brand. The trip, intended to recruit businesses to Florida, also provided a lobbying opportunity for those already in the state. After the meeting at the palace, Florida Crystals executives joined Scott at a reception they sponsored, featuring Spanish omelets and dry-cured ham.

Governors increasingly are using corporate money to fund their excursions, often from businesses that stand to benefit from state decisions. While taxpayers traditionally paid for trade missions, at least 15 states have started collecting donations to cover costs, including six since 2010. Scott, a 61-year-old Republican, has tapped the private money most often, making 10 overseas visits in the past three years, twice the pace of his predecessor, according to public records.

“It’s an opportunity that the vast majority of people and companies never get,” said Hayden Dempsey, a Tallahassee lobbyist and former aide to the governor who went on the Spain trip. Scott, he said, was “very accessible.”

In the months after, Scott approved a 30-year lease extension that Florida Crystals sought on 8,700 acres of state land. He also signed a bill helping the company limit payments to clean up pollution near its South Florida farms.

That's how government works. Lobbyists buy the government with trips and loot and get the laws they need to make tons of profit at taxpayer expense, and they even get to destroy the environment free of charge. And all of this is 100% legal, because the laws are written to make it this way.  Free speech baby, free speech.

So what if regular Floridians get exploited and harmed?  Who cares?  They don't have the corporate billions.  If their rights meant anything, God would have made them rich enough to afford free speech.

It's the GOP way.

Someone Please Show Condi Rice The Door

Because her failures as National Security Adviser and as Secretary of State got us and kept us in two ridiculous wars that we'll be paying for in several ways for decades, anything she has to say about foreign policy is automatically void and meaningless.

Speaking before a group of over 2,000 attendees at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual dinner in Washington D.C., former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice revived speculation in her future political prospects with a speech in which she took aim at America’s “weary” foreign policy under President Barack Obama.

“Right now, there’s a vacuum,” Rice said, according to a report via The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes. “There’s a vacuum because we’ve decided to lower our voice. We’ve decided to step back. We’ve decided that if we step back and lower our voice, others will lead, other things will fill that vacuum.”

Rice sited the ongoing civil war in Syria, the return of Al Qaeda to Iraq, China’s antagonism toward Japan and the Philippines, and Russia’s aggression in Europe as examples of how the post-Cold War order is beginning to fray.

“I fully understand the sense of weariness,” she revealed. “I fully understand that we must think: ‘Us, again?’ I know that we’ve been through two wars. I know that we’ve been vigilant against terrorism.”

“I know that it’s hard,” Rice continued, “but leaders can’t afford to get tired. Leaders can’t afford to be weary.”

And leaders can't afford to lie us into two wars of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands.  But keep telling yourself that running Condi Rice in 2016 is going to somehow work out better than McCain or Romney.

Run the war criminal, Republicans.  Watch what happens.

PS, if four deaths in Benghazi disqualifies Hillary Clinton from the White House, then Condi Rice disqualified herself about a thousand times over again.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Last Call For Bridge Trolls

Gov. Chris Christie, please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Your last shot at the White House 2016 is calling and may be a bit delayed in arrival.

The Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge said he informed Gov. Chris Christie about it at a Sept. 11 memorial while the closings were occurring, according to the findings of an internal investigation released by lawyers for the governor on Thursday.

The official, David Wildstein, told Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, of the Sept. 11 conversation at a dinner in December just before his resignation from the Port Authority, according to the report.

The report said that Mr. Christie did not recall any such conversation, and it found no evidence that he was involved in the scheme, which snarled traffic for thousands of commuters in Fort Lee, N.J., from Sept. 9 through the morning of Sept. 12.

In other words, Christie is now dumping everything on his aides and playing dumb as his official position.  Oh and his own investigation says he's innocent.  Sure he is.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said today that former aides were "inexplicably stupid" when they allegedly shut down lanes of busy George Washington Bridge and flooded a New Jersey town with traffic.

The exclusive interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer was his first television interview since his January press conference on the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

"When things were first reported, I said: 'This can't possibly be true. Because who would do something like that?'" Christie told Sawyer. "Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things."

Good luck sticking with that story, Chris.  You're going to need it.

I'm Surprised It Took This Long

Tommy Christopher points out this ugly steamrolling of Chris Hayes by Koch Brothers goon Jennifer Stefano.  She's all smiles at the beginning, and Chris Hayes of course tries his earnest best to be above the fray as the topic is Obamacare.  Five minutes later, Hayes is visibly stunned by the amount of pure bullshit Stefano has spewed on his show and he's clearly not sure what to do about it.

By the end Stefano is all but calling Hayes a woman-hating criminal.  He's had Stefano on his show before, but he's shocked that Stefano is ripping into him personally.  I'm sure he saw her as a friend up until this point, because the whole purpose of Chris Hayes's show is to have a decent discussion on the topics of the day's news.

The poor naive little lamb.

News flash, Chris:  Conservatives from Americans for Prosperity are not there to be your friend.  They are there to kick you in the head and spout as many lies per minute as they can about President Obama and his policies.  They are there to do exactly what Stefano did to you, that is use you like a punching bag and pummel you on your own show.  They are daring you to devolve into a screaming match, because lord knows if your goal is to try to inform your viewers about the Affordable Care Act, her job is to stop you from doing that, and she did exactly that.

The lesson you're supposed to draw from this is that conservatives from think tanks are not your friends, Chris.  They are your tormentors.

Maybe you should stop inviting them on your show?

Meanwhile, In Ukraine...

Russian troops continue to mass on the border with Eastern Ukraine as there appears to be no diplomatic solution in sight to Crimea.

U.S. and European security agencies estimate Russia has deployed military and militia units totaling more than 30,000 people along its border with eastern Ukraine, according to U.S. and European sources familiar with official reporting.

The current estimates represent what officials on both sides of the Atlantic describe as a continuing influx of Russian forces along the Ukraine frontier, the sources said.

The 30,000 figure represents a significant increase from a figure of 20,000 Russian troops along the border that was widely reported in U.S. and European media last week.

But U.S. and European security sources noted that these estimates are imprecise. Some estimates put current troop levels as high as 35,000 while others still suggest a level of 25,000, the sources said.

That's not the bad part.  The bad part is we don't know what they are up to, thanks to that sudden NSA blind spot of ours that developed in the last month or so.

U.S. officials said that what Russian President Vladimir Putin actually plans to do with his forces deployed on the Ukraine border is unknown. Some officials say intelligence information available to policymakers regarding what Putin is thinking, and what he is saying to his advisors and military commanders, is fragmentary to non-existent.

But the portents are potentially ominous. "No one's ruling out the possibility of additional Russian military aggression," one U.S. official said.

Crimea is one thing, but Eastern Ukraine is another.  Putin is playing with fire, and we're lacking the intel resources to see where he's going with this insanity.  An actual shooting war in Ukraine is not going to be good for anyone on Earth.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Last Call For Kick Started, Kicked Out

Barry Ritholtz makes a very important observation: this week's announcement that Oculus, the Kickstarter funded company making virtual 3-D gaming glasses technology that got bought for $2 billion by Facebook, proves that everything critics had to say about the deregulation of crowdsource funding in 2012's JOBS Act (including myself) was 100% accurate.

With Facebook acquiring virtual-reality company Oculus, one of the all time great sucker plays -- the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act,” signed by President Barack Obama on April 1, 2012 -- has been revealed as the massive bait-and-switch it is. (The JOBS Act? Hows that for a misleading title?)

It is relatively uncommon for the chairperson of the SEC to object to new deregulation, but when new laws are thought to be anti-investor, it's no surprise. Regardless of strenuous objections, the JOBS Act became law, making it all-too-easy for companies to raise money. It was more of the same radical deregulation that helped cause the financial crisis. This was not about making markets work more smoothly, but rather, an extreme form of “smash & grab” capitalism.

Bill Black called it a “recipe for fraud.” But Professor Black was wrong -- it's not a fraud, it’s a scam. You see, fraud involves something where there is a violation of the law; no rules appear to have been broken here. This is how the JOBS Act is supposed to work: Let people make dumb decisions on their own, without any protection.

A scam on the other hand, is when people are legally duped out of their money. When the auto dealer offers you “rust-proofing,” it’s a scam. When a retail stockbroker offers you entry into a special purpose acquisition company, it’s a scam. Ordering something from a late-night infomercial -- Order now, and get a 2nd one free, you just pay shipping & handling! -- is a scam. These are legal ways to separate fools from their money.

And who got scammed?  Why, the Kickstarter backers, of course.

What did the KickStarter funders of Oculus get? Note I use "funder" and not "investor," because investors have a potential for an investment return. These funders, who backed the company three months after the JOBS Act passed, did not. As the Journal noted, they were promised “a sincere thank you from the Oculus team.” And, for $25, a T-shirt. For $300, the dangle of “an early developer kit” including a prototype headset. Total money raised: $2.4 million from 9,500 contributors.

Which just got turned into $2 billion.  The Kickstarter folks get a t-shirt for seeing their investment multiplied a thousand-fold.

And from a legal standpoint, thanks to the deregulation in the JOBS Act that the GOP created, they don't even have to cough up the damn t-shirt.  Legally, they get nothing.

Working as intended.  Have you contributed to any startups through Kickstarter or any other crowdsourced avenue since the JOBS Act became law?

Might want to reconsider in the future.  Very much so.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon Arrested On Federal Corruption Charges

Wow, Patrick Cannon didn't even make it through his first year as Mayor of Charlotte before getting arrested on bribery and corruption charges.  And yes, he's a Democrat.  There are bad politicians who are Democrats just as there are bad politicians who are Republicans.

The mayor of Charlotte was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations on Wednesday on charges that he violated federal public corruption laws.

According to a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Patrick DeAngelo Cannon was charged with theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and extortion under color of official right.

According to court documents, during the course of a separate criminal investigation, the FBI received reliable information that Cannon, a Democrat, was potentially involved in illegal activities associated with his position as an elected official, and began an undercover investigation in or about August 2010.

The complaint and affidavit allege that during the course of that investigation, Cannon allegedly solicited and accepted money bribes and things of value from undercover FBI agents, posing as commercial real estate developers and investors wishing to do business in Charlotte.

According to the documents, Cannon solicited and accepted bribes and items of value in exchange for the use of his official position as Charlotte Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and/or as a City Council Member.

The complaint and law enforcement affidavit allege that Cannon accepted the bribes from the undercover FBI agents on five separate occasions.

On the last occasion, on February 21, Cannon allegedly accepted $20,000 in cash in the Mayor's office.

According to the complaint and the affidavit, between January 2013 and February 2014, Cannon allegedly accepted from the undercover agents over $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room, and use of a luxury apartment in exchange for the use of his official position.

The big question of course is that Cannon was elected Mayor last just November, and the sting goes back his City Council days in 2010.  He's been under investigation for nearly four years.  Cannon certainly would have lost to Republican Edwin Peacock for Mayor if he had been arrested six months ago after Mayor Anthony Foxx went on to become US Transportation Secretary.  Of course, he would have lost in the primaries to City Councilman James Mitchell too, so.

So why now?  The bulk of this stuff happened before he was Mayor.  Cannon also owned the largest private parking company in Charlotte, E-Z Parking, and you can imagine the kind of nonsense that went on there in deals between the company and the city.

Republicans are calling on Cannon to resign immediately.

Also, dammit Democrats.  Stop this.  You're better than this.

Jurist Prudence

If there was a moment in yesterday's Supreme Court oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case where things got weird, convoluted, and political, it was when Justice Elena Kagan quoted Justice Antonin Scalia's own arguments from 1990 on why your boss's religious views should not affect employees:

During oral arguments Tuesday about the validity of Obamacare's birth control mandate, Justice Elena Kagan cleverly echoed Justice Antonin Scalia's past warning that religious-based exceptions to neutral laws could lead to "anarchy."

"Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard," she told Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing against the mandate for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. "So another employer comes in and that employer says, I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws. And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative."

Kagan's remarks might sound familiar to the legally-trained ear. In a 1990 majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, Scalia alluded to the same examples of what might happen if religious entities are permitted to claim exemptions from generally applicable laws. He warned that "[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy."

Of course, that was 24 years ago when the President was a Republican, so this time around those religious exceptions to a law a Democratic president signed into law are necessary, in Scalia's eyes.   But in 1990, he wisely wrote of "slippery slope" arguments.

"The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind," Scalia wrote in the 6-3 opinion, "ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races."

In other words, if Hobby Lobby is allowed to except itself from Obamacare's mandate, what can't it except itself from?  That's the golden ticket..


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last Call For One Hell Of A Coincidence

Business Insider writer Michael Kelley is asking the right questions here about our old friend Dudebro Defector and the NSA's sudden blind spot in Russia.

U.S. officials think that Russia recently obtained the ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping equipment while commandeering Crimea and amassing troops near Ukraine's border.

The revelation reportedly has the White House "very nervous," especially because it's unclear how the Kremlin hid its plans from the National Security Agency's snooping on digital and electronic communications.

One interesting fact involved is the presence of Edward Snowden in Russia, where he has been living since flying to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.

In July, primary Snowden source Glenn Greenwald told The Associated Press that Snowden "is in possession of literally thousands of documents that contain very specific blueprints that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it."

So it's either a crazy coincidence that the Russians figured out how to evade NSA surveillance while hosting the NSA-trained hacker, or else it implies that Snowden provided the Russians with access to the NSA's blueprint.

No doubt Kelley's article is going to draw a massive screed from Double G and the usual suspects.  But as the people who support Snowden's actions remind us, we need to have a serious debate about American intelligence capabilities, and that includes debating the consequences of someone with the vast knowledge of these capabilities defecting to a foreign country.

I've said on a number of occasions that the actions of Snowden and his partners are not consistent with the goal of reigning in the NSA through existing means, but very consistent with the goal of taking it upon themselves to irreparably damage our intelligence-gathering abilities as a lesson to the Unites States government.

The threats have been made that if anything happens to Snowden, the full trove of information would be leaked

It's a reasonable question to ask if that's already happened.

Honey Badger Mode Activated

Sen. Harry Reid came out swinging Monday afternoon as the US Senate returned to work, noting that recent Republican filibustering of a Russian sanctions bill may not only have not helped portray the US as weak, but actually contributed to the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Republicans may have helped Russia annex Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in a surprisingly sharp attack ahead of a test vote on a bill authorizing more U.S. sanctions on Russia and $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine.

Outlining the Senate's agenda after a one-week recess, the Nevada Democrat said the first item would be the Ukraine bill that Republicans blocked just before lawmakers went on break. He urged Republicans to consider "how their obstruction affects United States' national security as well as the people of Ukraine" and said their delay of any congressional action "sent a dangerous message to Russian leaders."

"Since a few Republicans blocked these important sanctions last work period, Russian lawmakers voted to annex Crimea and Russian forces have taken over Ukrainian military bases," Reid said. "It's impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice."

Reid's charge comes despite widespread support among Republicans and Democrats in Congress for providing Ukraine with much-needed economic assistance and hitting Russian President Vladimir Putin's government with sanctions.

And GOP Senate aides noted the House has passed different legislation, meaning the Senate bill could not have become law before recess anyhow. They blamed Reid and Democrats for blocking the Senate from taking up the House legislation.

Nice to see the former Golden Gloves boxer actually throw a few punches for once instead of constantly taking Republican shots on the jaw.  Yes, Republicans did block Senate legislation on Ukraine sanctions, and it's good that somebody pointed this out.

It's Taxpayer-Funded School Creationism Time!

Pay attention class, because this is what the rapidly growing charter school movement is doing to US science education.

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

I've talked before about Jeb Bush and his privatization mess in Florida, from his for-profit disaster relief scam to his own charter school nonsense (the number one reason why he can never be allowed in the White House) but this is already a reality in a third of America and that number is growing as cash-strapped states are turning to church cash to fund schools.  And of course, there's a catch:

Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do. A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”

And this approach isn’t confined to high school biology class; it is typically threaded through all grades and all subjects.

One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.

Awesome.  And it's only going to get worse.

Some 26 states are now considering enacting new voucher programs or expanding existing ones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One concept that is gaining popularity, on the table in eight states: setting up individual bank accounts stocked with state funds that parents can spend not just on tuition but also on tutors or textbooks, both secular and religious. On Friday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the approach constitutional; lawmakers there are already working to broaden eligibility.

Taxpayer money to buy creationist textbooks is just the tip of the iceberg.  We're setting up to produce a generation of FOX News viewers, fed from Kindergarten.

And they'll grow up to be FOX News voters, too.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Last Call For Detective Christie

Good news everyone!  The hand-picked team of lawyers working for Chris Christie's office have found that Chris Christie is 100%, totally innocent of any wrongdoing in an incident stemming from Chris Christie having less than honest people in his office!

An internal review of the George Washington Bridge lane closures is reportedly set to be released, and the news on its face is good for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The New York Times got advance word of the results of the review, which was conducted by high-priced lawyers at Christie's behest. The final tally: 70 interviews, at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by taxpayers, and no evidence that the Republican governor was involved in the plotting or orchestrating of the lane closures.

I'm sure New Jersey taxpayers are thrilled!

The Times pointed out two caveats. For one, the firm that conducted the investigation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has known ties to the Christie administration. Second, the lawyers that conducted the investigation were unable to interview the three key players at the heart of the scandal: former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, former Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien, and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein.

So after not asking the people who would actually know if Christie did anything wrong, Christie spent a million in taxpayer bucks to find out that he didn't do anything wrong.

Gosh, that should put an end to this entire circus, yes?

Even Cap'n Ed at Hot Air doesn't buy this crap (but he takes time to scream about Benghazi like the knee-jerk goon he is.)  Still, Christie seems to be getting increasingly bad at handling this scandal by the week.  How's he supposed to handle this at the White House level?

Meanwhile, In Ukraine...

After getting rolled all last week by Russian troops and losing several military bases, Ukraine announced that it is pulling military forces out of Crimea.

Ukraine announced the evacuation of its troops and their families from Crimea on Monday, effectively acknowledging defeat in the face of Russian forces, who stormed one of the last remaining Ukrainian bases on the peninsula.

Thousands of Ukrainian troops have been besieged on bases in Crimea, offering no armed resistance but refusing to surrender, since President Vladimir Putin declared Moscow's right to intervene at the start of the month.

Moscow formally annexed the region last week and its forces have been seizing the last Ukrainian bases in recent days.

"The National Defence and Security Council has instructed the Defence Ministry to carry out a re-deployment of military units in Crimea and evacuate their families," acting president Oleksander Turchinov told parliament in Kiev.

The move, he said, had been made following threats by Russian forces on the lives and health of Ukrainian service staff and their families.

Russian forces, using stun grenades and machine guns and backed by two helicopters, swept into a marine base in the port of Feodosia early on Monday, overrunning one of Ukraine's last symbols of resistance. Ukrainian officers were taken away for questioning, Ukrainian officials said.

An official withdrawal from the base was due to start at 3 p.m., Ukrainian military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said.

Effectively the military phase of this is now over.  The question is will more military phases come with more captured territory?  Ukraine's forces are routed, and Putin now has Crimea in name as well as in deed.

So what's next, and does anyone think Putin will stop here?

Classless Warfare

Check out this goofy ass NY Times op-ed on why people born in wealthy counties with high median incomes end up being notable.

Why do some parts of the country appear to be so much better at churning out American movers and shakers? I closely examined the top counties. It turns out that nearly all of them fit into one of two categories.

First, and this surprised me, many of these counties consisted largely of a sizable college town. Just about every time I saw a county that I had not heard of near the top of the list, like Washtenaw, Mich., I found out that it was dominated by a classic college town, in this case Ann Arbor, Mich. The counties graced by Madison, Wis.; Athens, Ga.; Columbia, Mo.; Berkeley, Calif.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Gainesville, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; and Ithaca, N.Y., are all in the top 3 percent.

Why is this? Some of it is probably the gene pool: Sons and daughters of professors and graduate students tend to be smart. And, indeed, having more college graduates in an area is a strong predictor of the success of the people born there.

But there is most likely something more going on: early exposure to innovation. One of the fields where college towns are most successful in producing top dogs is music. A kid in a college town will be exposed to unique concerts, unusual radio stations and even record stores. College towns also incubate more than their expected share of notable businesspeople.

Could you tell this guy graduated from Harvard?  His name is Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, and apparently his degree is in Missing the Effing Obvious. Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis takes about 15 seconds to deconstruct this nonsense.

Or, it’s because you are born rich or you are born poor and that fact goes a very long ways in determining your future in this nation. Even his discussion of African-Americans and immigrants shows this–his examples are people born into the elites of these groups. It’s remarkable how obvious this is and how he totally misses this in a 21st century America where class-based analysis is unfashionable.

 It's not remarkable at all, he's a Harvard man!

All college jokes aside, it's still not remarkable for any recent college doctoral graduate to miss the forest for the trees like this, but rather rare for them to get NY Times op-eds while doing it.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Last Call For Rand 2016

Elias Isquith (who I don't always agree with) does get it right on why Rand Paul has no shot in 2016.

To recap, here’s the case for Rand Paul, millennial hero: He’s against surveillance and drone strikes, two issues on which the millennial vote is divided; he’s against comprehensive immigration reform and same-sex marriage, two things that millennial voters strongly support; he’s against big government and universal health care, two more things a majority of millennial voters back; and he likes to talk about getting people of color to vote for him, despite supporting voter suppression and the right of businesses to engage in race-based discrimination. Oh, and he’s comfortable telling the first black president, the one who “surrounds himself with Martin Luther King memorabilia in [the] Oval Office,” how he’s failing to live up to King’s legacy.

So can we stop with this nonsense now? Please?

It's very true that the youth vote won 2012 for President Obama, particularly in Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  It's also true that voting restrictions have been toughened in all four of these states.  President Obama won the under 30 vote in all four states by getting at least 60% or more, and that if Romney had split the youth vote 50-50 in those four states, he'd be President right now.

But in order to believe that Rand Paul has a legitimate shot of winning in 2016, you have to believe that there's a large enough Dudebro contingent to abandon the Dems entirely and that this group is  large enough to somehow erase Hillary's lead with women, and that Hillary will somehow manage to alienate voters of color more than Rand Paul.

The first is wishful thinking at best, but the second is patently ridiculous.

Hillary, Super Frenemy

Expect to see a lot of this over the next few years from Hillary Clinton:

During a forum at the Clinton Global Initiative University, Clinton fielded a question from Vrinda Agrawal, a student at the University of California, Berkeley who asked, "If you don't represent women in politics in America as a future president, who will?"

More than 1,000 students roared with approval and applauded while former President Bill Clinton smiled, whispered into TV host Jimmy Kimmel's ear and clapped along.

The former first lady said she appreciated the sentiment but was still deciding.

"I am very much concerned about the direction of our country and it's not just who runs for office but what they do when they get there and how we bring people together and particularly empower young people so we can tackle these hard decisions," Clinton said.

She worked for the guy in charge of that for four years as Secretary of State, but now she's "very much concerned about the direction of the country" and stuff.

Some quality shade throwing there.  As a professional politician and diplomat, she knows exactly how to walk that line between being an ally of our President (and the people who voted twice for him) and open "I told you so back in 2008" disrespect, running against him.

She's only getting started.  As such, new tag: With Frenemies Like This...

Nate Silver On The Senate

Nate Silver's first Senate forecast at his new digs is pretty sobering:  he sees easy GOP pickups of Democratic open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota (90%),  John Walsh losing badly in Montana (80%), Mitch McConnell easily keeping his seat here in Kentucky (75%) and the GOP keeping Georgia's open seat vacated by Saxby Chambliss (70%), Mark Pryor losing in Arkansas (70%) and at best, Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Begich and the open seat in Michigan as toss-ups.

That's four solid pickups for the GOP and four Dem seats that are tossups, plus Mark Udall in Colorado having only a 60% chance of winning.  That puts nine Dem seats in play where the GOP essentially has two outright, most likely has four and a very good shot at getting the six they need.

Martin Longman disagrees about Nate's West Virginia 90% GOP probability call:

Jay Rockefeller's seat in the Senate has been in Democratic hands for all but eight years since FDR's 1933 inauguration and was last held by a Republican in 1958, when John D. Hoblitzell, Jr. was appointed as a temporary replacement for Sen. Matthew Neely.

Joe Manchin's seat in the Senate was held by Robert Byrd for 51 years. Republican Henry Hatfield lost the seat in 1934, and the GOP has only controlled it briefly (November 7, 1956 – January 3, 1959) since that time.

What this says is that West Virginian's are simply not in the habit of electing Republicans to state-wide office, especially for high-profile races.

Yes, the state has changed over the last two decades, and it is remarkably hostile to our multiracial president. But, the same day that Obama was elected president, Joe Manchin was reelected as governor with 70% of the vote. Manchin was then elected to serve in the Senate twice, the second time earning over 60% of the vote on a ballot he shared with Obama. West Virginians also elected Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin to replace Manchin as governor that same election day.

To which I reply that here in Kentucky, we elected and then re-elected Democrat Steve Beshear to succeed Ernie Fletcher, the first Republican governor we had since 1971.  Fletcher's administration crashed and burned in scandal.

But we haven't had a Democratic senator since 1998 and Nate puts better odds of that happening than West Virginia.  Very similar states, Kentucky's registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1, and yet Mitch will probably win by 15 points.  They hate Obama in West Virginia.  They hate him even more here in Kentucky.

Having said that, Nate's warning on that "enthusiasm gap" is real.

A tie on the generic ballot might not sound so bad for Democrats. But it’s a misleading signal, for two reasons. First, most of the generic ballot polls were conducted among registered voters. Those do not reflect the turnout advantage the GOP is likely to have in November. Especially in recent years, Democrats have come to rely on groups such as racial minorities and young voters that turn out much more reliably in presidential years than for the midterms. In 2010, the Republican turnout advantage amounted to the equivalent of 6 percentage points, meaning a tie on the generic ballot among registered voters translated into a six-point Republican lead among likely voters. The GOP’s edge hadn’t been quite that large in past years. But if the “enthusiasm gap” is as large this year as it was in 2010, Democrats will have a difficult time keeping the Senate.

If Dems don't show up in November, Republicans will control the Senate.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

California Sleazin'

If you're wondering how and why the GOP has effectively walked completely away from California, the biggest electoral prize in the nation and home to one in seven US voters, it probably has something to do with the candidates they have.

One of four gubernatorial candidates introduced to California Republicans recently is a registered sex offender who spent more than a decade in state prison, convicted of crimes including voluntary manslaughter and assault with intent to commit rape.

Glenn Champ, 48, addressed hundreds of GOP delegates and supporters Sunday at the site of the state party's semi-annual convention. Introduced by party chairman Jim Brulte and allotted 10 minutes, Champ spoke in between the main GOP candidates, former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari and state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County.

Champ, a little-known political neophyte from the Fresno County community of Tollhouse, did not directly mention his criminal past during his speech but said, "In my life, I've been held accountable because of my stupidity. I do not want anyone else to be enslaved because of their lack of knowledge."

But he's a serious candidate.

Champ's rap sheet is lengthy. Court records show that in 1992, he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed firearm. In 1993, he was convicted of two counts of assault with intent to commit rape and as a result was placed on the state's sex-offender registry.

In March 1998, he accepted a plea deal on a charge of loitering to solicit a prostitute; later that year, he pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge after hitting a man with his vehicle, for which he was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, according to court records.

This guy is a violent criminal.  I understand he's served his time, but check out his version of remorse:

Champ said his life experience could help him deal with politicians in Sacramento. He calls them criminals, saying, for example, that they routinely infringe upon constitutionally protected gun rights.

"I know what the criminal mind thinks, and I know how it works and I know how to stop it, and that's something [other politicians] don't get," Champ said.

The convicted violent sex offender and rapist is the real victim here, because anyone who wants reasonable gun safety laws is the real criminal.  Please, Republicans, why would you not want to nominate this awesome human being for governor of California?  He stands for everything the Republican Party stands for, after all.

Our Liberal Media Strikes Again

Cry not for professional news martyr Sharyl Attkisson (who quit CBS news because she wasn't allowed to scream BENGHAZI loudly enough.)  She's doing fine as the new conservative talk show darling, railing against the liberal bias that pervades our news media (although strangely not the large block of coordinated conservative media sources in America.)  She was railing again today in Philly about the debunked and retracted story that the White House gives interviewers questions to ask in interviews with the President.

Another conservative media personality isn't quite ready to let go of the Arizona news anchor's retracted claim that White House reporters give press secretary Jay Carney their questions in advance.

Philadelphia talk radio host Chris Stigall spoke Friday with former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, a favorite journalist of conservatives who resigned from the network earlier this month, reportedly because she thought it had a liberal bias.

Naturally, Stigall asked for Attkisson's thoughts about Catherine Anaya, the Phoenix television anchor who made the claim about the White House reporters earlier this week on-air during a visit to Washington before quickly retracting it and apologizing.

On his show on Friday, the day after the retraction, Stigall provided credulous coverage of the story reminiscent of other conservative sources. He perfunctorily noted that the anchor "retracted" the story, right before he read the original claim and asked Attkisson for her take on Anaya's "off-handed observation."

"So, is this woman just misunderstanding what she saw or is it true?" he asked.

Attkisson made clear that she hadn't actually heard Anaya's comments and said that she never saw questions provided in advance during her occasional stints at White House press briefings. But she said she "wouldn't be surprised if sometimes there is that sort of level of cooperation with some questions that want to be asked."

"I didn't actually see that going on, but that's because LIBERAL BIAS ARGLE BARGLE."

Frankly, FOX just needs to hire her so she can go on her daily hate rant against the President.  She'll be very happy.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Last Call For Another One Falls

Another state constitution banning same-sex marriage, another federal judge strikes it down on Fourteenth Amendment grounds.  This time, the state is Michigan:

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman gave his decision Friday, two weeks after the couple's trial against the ban. Friedman's ruling says the state's ban is "unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Doesn't get much more clear cut than that.

In 2004, the state of Michigan enacted the Defense of Marriage Act after it was passed by 59 percent of voters. The act argues that children benefit from living in homes of heterosexual couples.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse sued the state of Michigan's federal court in an effort to overturn the state's ban on joint adoptions by same-sex couples. Friedman invited them to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. They refiled the lawsuit and went to trial against the state's ban on gay marriage.

 The ruling is here.  Judge Friedman's conclusion:

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples. It is the Court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.

 Boom.  Won't be long now before SCOTUS is forced to act.

There's Christian, And Then There's "Christian"

Chase Martinson was a student at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, a Christian place of learning.  Emphasis on was, because after being readmitted and asked to join the school's honors program in January after taking a break from school, Chase's admission on Facebook that he is gay just got him kicked out of school.

In the words of Gandhi,  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

In the letter, the Admissions’ Committee indicated that “[a]dmittance is open to academically and morally qualified students,” and that “[s]tudents at Hannibal-LaGrange should be in agreement with the student life guidelines set forth by the University.” The letter told him to review page 27 of the Hannibal-LaGrange student handbook, which defines “sexual impropriety” as “participation in, or appearance of, engaging in premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual activities, or cohabitations on or off campus.”
These guys know how to party.

Moreover, “[t]he promotion, and advocacy of, or ongoing practice of a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to institution expectations and is therefore prohibited.”

When Martinson spoke to head of admissions, he was again told to review the guidelines “because it was brought to his attention (surprise!) that I was outside of them[.]” He does not indicate who informed the admissions administration about his sexual preference.

In a Facebook update that he encouraged people to share, Martinson wrote that he was told that he didn’t represent “Christian values.”

Well good thing Jesus Christ was never associated with sinners, thieves, prostitutes, cheats, the lame, etc.” he continued. “Hannibal-LaGrange University should be ashamed of itself, it’s repugnant.”

 I wonder if any students attend the school while receiving any federal student loans or grants. I would very much like to know the answer to that question.

Second of all, I'm betting the same "get government out of my face" people have little problem with this.  It's okay if the government is a Christian theocracy?

Chase meanwhile is going to attend University of Missouri - St. Louis this fall.  Good for him.
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