Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Call For 2014

I wanted to thank all of you for sticking with me for another year.  2014 wasn't all bad for me personally, I have a new job and I love it, but for the country as a whole, we've had better.

Here's hoping your 2015 is a good one.

And yeah, this one still gets me. Every time.

Zandar's 2015 Predictions

Not sure if I can beat 7-2-1 from last year, but I'll give it a shot.  Here are my ten predictions for 2015:

1) Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, and Jeb Bush will make it all official in 2015.  All of them will be in the race for the White House.  How far they get, well, that's for this time next year, isn't it?

2) Obama will have 25 or more presidential vetoes by the end of 2015.  Figure that's two a month, plus one for good measure.  Do not be surprised if it's less than this.  Mitch is not going to be able to get passed what he wants in the Senate.

3) The Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare subsidies in federal exchange states.  I'm not a lawyer by any stretch, but I know vindictive political backstabbing when I see it coming.  King v. Burwell is going to sorely test the GOP however.

4) Having said that, SCOTUS will also rule in favor of national same-sex marriage.  Hedge here that the decision may not come in 2015, but they'll take up a case to decide it before 2016. I just think Justice Kennedy wants this to be what he's remembered for.

5) Oil will close 2015 at under $60 a barrel.  Pretty huge hedge too, it'll probably be a lot lower.

6) Still feeling good about Marvel movies, so I'll say Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron will break $200 million.

7) Google Glass will officially get the plug pulled.  At least on the home version.  Watch for the business model to stay viable, however.

8) Apple iWatch will be huge.  Morgan Stanley says it could do anywhere from 30 million to 60 million, I'll peg my guess at 40 million worldwide in 2015.

9) My off the wall projection:  A US embassy in Havana will be in place, with ambassador, before the end of 2015.  It'll also be the end of Marco Rubio, but hey.

10) ZVTS will be here for another year.  Haven't lost on this one yet...

Have a safe New Year's Eve and 2015, folks.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast, Gotta Make Extortion Last

New York’s Finest, at their finest.

NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

The dramatic drop comes as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton andMayor Bill de Blasio plan to hold anemergency summit on Tuesday with the heads of the five police unions to try to close the widening rift between cops and the administration.

The unprecedented meeting is being held at the new Police Academy in Queens at 2 p.m., sources said.

Angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination of two NYPD cops in a patrol car, including that two units respond to every call.

It has helped contribute to a nose dive in low-level policing, with overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013, stats show.

Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

So your brilliant, devious plan is this: you’re going to show the people who believe that the NYPD is full of power-hungry bullies and paramilitary goons what for by displaying to the country exactly how most of the collars you make are in fact wholly unnecessary exercises of petty microagression towards the citizenry you hold in open and rancorous contempt.

Okay then. Go with that plan, guys.

The Thin Blue Line, indeed.

StupidiNews, New Year's Eve Edition!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last Call For Grimm Tidings

So Mikey Suits is out, and the GOP need somebody to run to fill his House seat.  So naturally, Republicans look to the obvious choice: Daniel Donovan.

You know, the Staten Island prosecutor who completely failed to indict the cop who murdered Eric Garner.

Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney who most recently failed to secure an indictment in the Eric Garner case, is lining up support behind-the-scenes for a bid to replace Mr. Grimm. And Mr. Donovan, well-liked by the borough’s Republican machine, is a front-runner to win the backing of the Staten Island Republican Party in a special election that will likely be held sometime next year, sources say.

“Dan is almost certainly in and is lining up his support,” a source close to the Staten Island Republican Party told the Observer. “He will probably emerge as the clear front-runner for the party’s support.”

Of course he will.

Another Staten Island Republican source confirmed that Mr. Donovan has emerged as the strongest candidate. The source cited his career as district attorney, particularly his work battling a prescription drug epidemic and strengthening DWI prosecutions while keeping a balanced office budget.

A special election to replace Mr. Grimm will mean no Democratic or Republican primaries. Instead, the Staten Island Republican and Democratic organizations will each select a candidate to face-off after Gov. Andrew Cuomo selects a date for the election.

Despite the controversy Mr. Donovan courted in December when a grand jury voted not to indict a white police officer in the death of Garner, a black man, the district attorney is still relatively popular in the borough and with party insiders, sources say. Voters in the 11th Congressional District, far more conservative than in many in other parts of the city, did not view Mr. Donovan as unfavorably after the decision in the racially-charged case.

And he'd be a giant SCREW YOU to de Blasio, Eric Holder, President Obama, and oh yeah, every person of color in NYC.

He'll win by 20 points.

Zandar's 2014 Prediction Scorecard

Time to see how I did with my 2014 predictions ahead of any 2015 prognostication, and I'm glad to say this year I did a lot better than in 2013.

1)  The Dems will keep the Senate, the GOP will keep the House in November.

Blew it.  This was a long shot, but I didn't know just how long it was. The Dems failed miserably here for a variety of reasons:  terrible candidates who tied themselves in knots running away from Obama,  garbled messaging, lousy campaigns, and a Democratic base that doesn't vote in midterms.  In fact, Dems bailed so hard on voting that the polls were off by six to eight points in most races, and that turned close races into easy wins, and easy GOP wins into complete routs.  It's as much our fault as it is the Democrats', and I won't make that mistake in predicting we'll vote in 2018, should ZVTS get that far.

We just don't care anymore as an electorate in midterm years, it seems.

2)  Google Glass will be delayed until 2015, or later.

Nailed it.  At best this tech is a niche application for niche users in niche fields.  It'll be a long time before something like Glass is widespread among consumers.

3)  Alison Lundergan Grimes would beat Mitch McConnell to be the next Senator from KY.

Blew it.  In fact, no Dem ran a worse 2014 campaign than Grimes, who bungled things so badly she lost to a guy with a 35% approval rating by sixteen points.  Her absolute refusal to say she voted for Obama cost her everything, she refused to run on Kynect as a national model for Obamacare success, and it's important to note that even the Clintons coming out to rally for her did absolutely nothing...and may have actually hurt her even more.

4)  And speaking of the Clintons, Hillary won't announce any run for least not in 2014.

Nailed it.  As I said, too cagey to tip her hand in 2014.  I expect this to continue for as long as she can get away with it in 2015, because as Jeb Bush is finding out, there's nowhere to go as front-runner except down.

5)  Marvel will continue their movie hot streak in 2014

Nailed it. Not only was I right about all three Marvel films I predicted would make $200 million domestically (Amazing Spider-Man 2 barely did it, but did it) but if I had remembered X-Men: Days of Future Past in my prediction, it would have been the fourth Marvel franchise film to break the $200 million mark in 2014.  Big Hero 6 is the movie I left out of that $200 million club for a reason, but it squeaked over the $200 million line by the end of the year anyway. That's five $200 million plus films just domestically, guys.  Marvel is the biggest player in Hollywood right now.

And yes, this means I was right about Guardians of the Galaxy.  Going to enjoy that for a bit.  I'm going to enjoy Marvel in 2015 too.  More about that tomorrow...

6)  The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on same-sex marriage later in 2014, but the decision won't come until 2015.

Jury's still out.  Like a lot of people, I might add, nobody expected SCOTUS to punt on same-sex marriage, but punt they did.  Since then, Michigan and Louisiana are asking for direct rulings from the Supreme Court on this issue, and the Sixth Circuit has upheld state bans with several other circuits striking them down.  There's still a chance that the Supreme Court could take up these cases in January and have a decision by June, or take up the case next fall.

7)  No impeachment measures in 2014, but 2015 will be a different story.

Nailed it.  If the GOP is going to impeach, 2015 will be the year.  The GOP is trying to do everything they can short of it, but eventually somebody's going to bring up articles for a vote.

8)  Obamacare will be around through 2014 and beyond.

Nailed it.  But 2015 will be a radically different story if SCOTUS kills subsidies in federal exchange states.  It will make insurance pretty unaffordable for millions and could even put families on the hook for billions in back payments, which will be an utter disaster.

Of course, that's the point.

9) The Sochi Winter Olympics will be a disaster.

Nailed it.  Sochi was, by any conceivable metric, only the start of the worst year of Vladimir Putin's life.  The Sochi Games were rightfully mocked and the venues were a joke.  We got a close look at how rotten the Russian economy was, and falling oil prices have all but wrecked Moscow.

10) ZVTS will make it to 2015.

Nailed it.  I'm glad to still be here, and I'm back over at Balloon Juice to boot.

So my final score for the year, 7 right, 2 wrong (albeit BIG wrongs) and one big SCOTUS question mark.  Much better than 2013's numbers, for sure.

I'll have my predictions for 2015 out tomorrow, as usual.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert

Today's contestant on "Even a Stopped Clock is Right Twice A Day": Huckleberry Graham on the GOP and immigration.

If Republicans don't wield their congressional majority next year to pass immigration reform legislation, a GOP takeover of the White House in 2016 will be "difficult, if not impossible," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said during a CNN interview released on Sunday. 
Graham, a Republican who has long-favored comprehensive immigration reform, said he believes the GOP has hurt itself with Hispanic voters due to its resistance to reforming the current system. And without a major change, Democrats will get another four years in the Oval Office, Graham told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." 
"If we don't at least make a down payment on solving the problem and rationally dealing with the 11 million [illegal immigrants believed to be in the U.S.], if we become the party of self-deportation in 2015 and 2016, then the chance of winning the White House I think is almost non-existent," he said.

Yep.  And that's exactly what's going to happen, and why I'm not terribly worried about 2016. Republicans won't be able to help themselves.  (It's also the reason that Jeb Bush will never win the GOP nomination, by the way.)

Graham supports giving a pathway to citizenship to the so-called DREAMers -- undocumented immigrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally as children and have lived in the U.S. since. And in 2014, Graham showed the political viability of his position by successfully beating back a tough primary challenge in his conservative state by reaffirming -- rather than running away from -- his stance on immigration. 
"If the Republican Party cannot muster the political courage to deal with the DREAM Act children in a fair and balanced way after we secure our border, that says a a lot about the Republican Party's future regarding the Hispanic community," Graham said. "I don't believe most Americans would fault the Republican Party if we allowed children who have been here since they're babies to assimilate into society with a pathway to citizenship after we secure our borders." 
Graham was one of the most ardent supporters of a bipartisan immigration bill he helped negotiate in 2013 that passed the Senate but did not get a vote in the House. The bill would have bolstered border security and created a path to citizenship for millions -- many of whom are now getting temporary relief under Obama's executive action.

I doubt that Graham, if he proposed the exact same legislation again, would even get a vote.  The one thing I can guarantee you that won't happen in the next two years is the GOP passing comprehensive immigration legislation, and it'll cost them the White House in 2016.

Of course, they're okay with that as long as they continue to hold Congress, an overwhelming majority of state legislatures, and an overwhelming majority of Governor's mansions.  I don't see that changing much in 2016 either.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Call For The Kroog's Look Back

Paul Krugman takes stock of the last six years, in inimitable Krugman fashion.

Suppose that for some reason you decided to start hitting yourself in the head, repeatedly, with a baseball bat. You’d feel pretty bad. Correspondingly, you’d probably feel a lot better if and when you finally stopped. What would that improvement in your condition tell you? 
It certainly wouldn’t imply that hitting yourself in the head was a good idea. It would, however, be an indication that the pain you were experiencing wasn’t a reflection of anything fundamentally wrong with your health. Your head wasn’t hurting because you were sick; it was hurting because you kept hitting it with that baseball bat. 
And now you understand the basics of what has been happening to several major economies, including the United States, over the past few years. In fact, you understand these basics better than many politicians and commentators.

The best part is we handed over the economy to the GOP so we can start bashing ourselves in the head some more, because two-thirds of us stayed home in November.

And yes, I'm going to keep harping on "two-thirds of us stayed home in November" until things change.  At some point, we've got to learn that if we don't vote, we get screwed.

The Joke's On Chuck

Pretty telling that Chuck Todd, his Meet The Press ratings even more dismal than that of his predecessor David Gregory, had a panel of political satire show comedians on Sunday, and ended up telling the hard truth about himself and his profession as a pundit.

During a panel discussion with about the popularity of political satire, Todd asserted that comedians may be guilty of fueling the public’s cynicism.

But comedian W. Kamau Bell argued that programs like The Daily Show gave viewers hope.

“You feel like I can laugh my way through this,” he pointed out. “I think that whenever they watch Jon Stewart or John Oliver, they feel like they are at least getting that person’s perspective. I don’t think people believe with the news, you know, you feel like you’re getting a corporation’s perspective.”

The Daily Show‘s Lewis Black said that it was unfair to blame comedy for cynicism when many Americans were even more angry than comedians.

I have watched you and everybody else,” he told Todd, “where somebody comes on, and I don’t know how you do it because I’d be barking at them.”

“We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show,” Todd explained. “There’s something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show

Let's think about this.  Todd, in his head, knows he's talking to crazy people, but politicians don't go on news shows to face tough questions, they go to get exposure of their political views and get them vindicated by softball nonsense.  Vindicated by people like Chuck Todd.

Can't ask the newsmakers the tough questions because otherwise you have no guests.  Instead, you get John McCain every third week or so.  And this is the dance that we watch every week.

Or well, fewer of us are watching every week, judging by Todd's rapidly crashing ratings.

Perhaps he should examine the state of his show.  You know, while he still has one.

The Longest War

The 13-year long nightmare that is our combat mission in Afghanistan is finally over.

President Barack Obama says the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.

Obama is welcoming the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan. The war came to a formal end Sunday with a ceremony in Kabul.

Obama says in a statement that the effort has devastated al-Qaida's core leadership, brought justice to Osama bin Laden and disrupted terrorist plots. He says U.S. troops and diplomats have helped Afghans reclaim their communities and move toward democracy.

Obama is also honoring the more than 2,200 Americans who have died in Afghanistan since the war started 13 years ago. Obama says those years have tested the U.S. and its military.

From a peak 140,000 troops in 2010, the U.S. and NATO plan to leave just 13,500 behind.

Well, the "combat mission" part is over, not the war.   No, I don't blame Obama for this.  He didn't start this mess and he's doing what he can to end it.   His predecessor is another story, however.  Frankly, we never should have been there in the first place, and if Bush had done his job, we wouldn't have been sucked in for half a generation.

At least we're getting out.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Last Call For Just Blame Obama

Former Rep. Allen West has gotten the taste of that sweet Wingnut Gravy Train and he's never going to let it go.  He's found his niche as the Black Guy Who Hates Obama and he'll ride that for as long as he can, Ben Carson be damned.

On Sunday, Fox News host Charles Payne asserted to West that many people believed that Obama was the “central reason” why the racial divide seemed to be worsening.

“For President Obama, when you look at it from his perspective as a progressive socialist community organizer, he believes race relations are fine because of the impact they are having on social justice,” West explained. “So when you have this divide among us because that is the goal of collectivism, which is what the president believes in, then everything is fine for him.”

“When you have somebody like Al Sharpton visiting the White House and providing him counsel 82 times, and standing and putting pressure on Sony, and other individuals,” he continued, “and this angst that has happened, and this mob atmosphere that is going on, this is really what the president would like to have. This vomiting of dissension. But that is not what the inner-city needs right now.”

Payne opined that the country seemed to be more racially divided because the president had taken opportunity “at every turn” during his administration to blame racism for America’s problems.

“They created that atmosphere back early in 2009,” West agreed. “Eric Holder said we were a nation of cowards when it came to race. And you look at the fact that we have elected and re-elected the first black president, but yet he still believes that is not enough. We have [black people as serving as] the national security advisor, the [secretary of] Department of Homeland Security.”

“I don’t know what else you need to have.”

How about not being shot for being black, asshole? 

Gotta hand it to West, being a black person making white racists feel better about their racism has been very profitable throughout American history.  It takes a certain hardness of spirit to do that, probably the kind of thing he picked up in Iraq before getting kicked out of the Army for torturing Iraqi civilians.  Please note this didn't stop him from winning a term in Congress, because as I've said before, we're a nation that largely approves of torturing brown people.

But yes, blaming President Obama for "race relations" in this country is exactly what millions of racists want to hear from a black guy on FOX News.  West will be set for a long time.

A Metric Crapton Of Stupid

It's bad enough that we have yet another missing Asian airliner to worry about now (and CNN is having a grand old time with it) but FOX News still takes the cake for stupidity when it comes to disaster porn.

Fox News host Anna Kooiman speculated on Sunday that an AirAsia flight could have gone missing because international pilots were trained using the metric system.

During breaking coverage of missing Flight QZ8501, Kooiman asked former FAA spokesperson Scott Brenner if the “real reason” the plane had disappeared was because of the “different way other countries train their pilots.”

“Even when we think about temperature, it’s Fahrenheit or Celsius,” she pointed out. “It’s kilometers or miles. You know, everything about their training could be similar, but different.”

IT WAS THE METRIC SYSTEM. (lightning, scary organ music)

Brenner, however, said that the major difference between international pilots and U.S. pilots was the reliance on automatic pilot.

“And a lot of that… is because a lot of crashes are due to pilot error,” he explained. “So, if you try and eliminate any potential risk, you try and eliminate the pilot’s ability to make incorrect inputs into the aircraft.”

“It’s not just a difference in the way that we measure things?” Kooiman replied. “Is it not as safe in that part of the world? Because our viewers may be thinking, ‘International travel, is it safe? Is it not safe?’”

Yes, because the world uses imperial system measurements.  OH WAIT, NO IT DOESNT.

It's literally the US, Myanmar, and Liberia.  That's it.  EVERY OTHER COUNTRY USES METRIC.

If there's an example of the intersection of American exceptionalism and rampant ignorance of the world, it's the fact that in 2014 we still use miles, Fahrenheit and gallons unlike the other 7 billion people on this planet and it's because we absolutely refuse to change that the rest of the world has to pay good money to convert to do business with us.

I honestly believe FOX would drum up a shooting war just to prevent us from switching over.

Sunday Long Read: Title, Tag, And Taken

Your Sunday long read is the latest financial sector scam to exploit the poor with low credit and destroy families and neighborhoods through usury: title loans.

For many borrowers, title loans, also sometimes known as motor-vehicle equity lines of credit or title pawns, are having ruinous financial consequences, causing owners to lose their vehicles and plunging them further into debt.

A review by The New York Times of more than three dozen loan agreements found that after factoring in various fees, the effective interest rates ranged from nearly 80 percent to over 500 percent. While some loans come with terms of 30 days, many borrowers, unable to pay the full loan and interest payments, say that they are forced to renew the loans at the end of each month, incurring a new round of fees.

Customers of TitleMax, for example, typically renewed their loans eight times, a former president of the company disclosed in a 2009 deposition.

And because many lenders make the loan based on an assessment of a used car’s resale value, not on a borrower’s ability to repay that money, many people find that they are struggling to keep up almost as soon as they drive off with the cash.

As a result, roughly one in every six title-loan borrowers will have the car repossessed, according to an analysis of 561 title loans by the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit in Durham, N.C.

Subprime loans wiped out minority home ownership.  The median black household net worth has dropped to under $4,000, and most of that is in the last thing black households own: a car.  Now those are being repossessed because banks will no longer do business in minority communities.

It's targeted elimination.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Last Call For Making Good On Their Threat

Behold what two-thirds of you not voting in November hath wrought, America.  Republicans are now making the country choose between the Secret Service and President Obama's immigration order, and one of them will be getting the budget axe thanks to the GOP.

Indeed, the whole arrangement is a fragile patchwork since the Department of Homeland Security — of which the Service is a part — is guaranteed funding only under a continuing resolution that expires Feb. 27.

How did it reach this point?

Top lawmakers in both parties and the White House acquiesced to the compromise, which was judged the fastest way to send Congress home, avoid a shutdown and put the rest of the government on permanent footing through Sept. 30 next year.

But it was House Republicans who really drove the bargain because the GOP insisted on holding Homeland hostage as a spending vehicle with which to challenge Obama over his Nov. 20 executive order shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Before the Homeland CR runs out, Republicans can count on being fully in charge of Congress. Their immediate target is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the office within Homeland that will implement Obama’s order including the issuance of temporary work permits for qualified individuals who come forward.

Ironically enough, USCIS is largely self-funded, living off the fees it collects and not the relatively small share of annual appropriations it gets from Congress. By contrast, the Secret Service is wholly dependent on appropriations and now caught in the political crossfire.

There was absolutely no intention to freeze the Secret Service,” said a House Republican aide, who quickly added that “the president must bear some responsibility for any fallout that occurs as a result of the Homeland CR.”

So after complaining that the US Secret Service is underfunded, understaffed, and in need of reform Republicans cut $50 million from the USSS budget to put Obama in his place over immigration.  So if the Secret Service is stretched too thin, with a President that already gets more threats than any in modern history, of course that's where "patriots" like today's GOP make budget cuts.

After all, "the president must bear some responsibility for any fallout that occurs".

Republican hatred of Obama is now a direct threat to the safety of the President of the United States.  Remember that.

Backs To The Wall

New York's Finest continue to show their asses.

Hundreds of officers outside the church where a funeral was held for a policeman killed along with his partner in an ambush shooting turned their backs on the mayor as he spoke during Saturday's service.

The reaction from officers watching Officer Rafael Ramos' funeral on giant TV screens followed comments from police union officials who had said Mayor Bill de Blasio contributed to a climate of mistrust that contributed to the killings of the two New York Police Department officers.

Inside Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, however, mourners gave de Blasio polite applause before and after his speech.

The mayor said hearts citywide were aching after the Dec. 20 shootings that left Ramos and his partner, Wenjian Liu, dead.

"All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons," de Blasio said. "But the most personal is that we've lost such a good man, and the family is in such pain."

Police union officials have blamed de Blasio for fostering anti-police sentiment for his support of protesters angry that no charges will be filed in the police deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island. At a hospital after the officers' slayings, the police union's president, Patrick Lynch, and others turned their backs on de Blasio in a sign of disrespect. Lynch said the mayor had "blood on his hands."

Why, you'd almost think there was a new police union contract coming up for negotiations or something, and that the police union has hated de Blasio since he was elected last year.

Bernie's Game

Will Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders join the 2016 dance?  He says he'll decide by March whether or not to join the race.

Sanders said the issues about which he's been railing all these years are only becoming more dire. The wealth gap has grown, and the middle class, he says, is "collapsing."

"You have one family, the Walton family of Walmart, owning more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people," he said. "We have 95 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent. You have millions of families unable to afford to send their kids to college. People are desperately worried about whether or not they are going to retire with dignity."
Sanders has a 12-step plan that he says will restore the economy and especially the middle class, most of it dependent on higher taxes on the rich and corporations. Among the proposals: A $1 trillion infrastructure building program that would "create 13 million decent-paying jobs," more worker-friendly international trade deals and legislation to strengthen unions, and transforming the U.S. energy system "away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy."

He says he'll make a "gut decision" about running for the presidency - and, perhaps, challenging Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And he has a message that has resonated with the left for years.  But he's exactly the person the GOP wants to run against that would let them put up a Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Paul Ryan as a clear favorite to win.  And as much as I think he'd make a great President, he'd also be the McGovern to the GOP's Nixon.

After twenty years of "taxation is theft" America is not a center-right nation, it's a Tea Party one.  November proved that, the lowest turnout in 84 years.  We don't care anymore.  Sanders running wouldn't be enough of a reason to care, frankly.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Last Call For SCOTUS In 2015

Sam Baker at National Journal (which at this point just exists to scold liberals) is warning that SCOTUS will pretty much destroy Obama's second term.  I've talked about King v. Burwell before:

The justices will hear oral arguments March 4 in a lawsuit that threatens to cripple the health care law, just three years after Chief Justice John Roberts helped save it. This time, the challengers want the Court to invalidate the law's premium subsidies in states that didn't set up their own insurance exchanges. Most states didn't establish their own exchanges, and more than 80 percent of enrollees are getting subsidies—so a win for the challengers here would likely make insurance unaffordable for about 5 million people and could make insurance markets unstable in most of the country.

But there's the Sixth Circuit's decision on upholding same-sex marriage bans as constitutional, which could force the Supremes to act.

When a federal Appeals Court upheld same-sex marriage in several states, the justices declined to hear an appeal. But then the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan and Kentucky, as well as state laws in Ohio and Tennessee. So now the Appeals Courts are divided over the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex marriage, and almost all of the states in question have asked the Supreme Court to settle the issue for good. Given the patchwork of laws from state to state, many legal observers say it'll be hard for the Court to stay on the sidelines this time.

And there's the fallout from last year's Hobby Lobby case and the next set of questions involving religious freedoms that will be answered:

Religious liberty was the defining issue of 2014's biggest ruling—the Hobby Lobby decision involving Obamacare's contraception mandate—and it's back in a big way this term. The Court has already heard oral arguments in a suit filed by an Arkansas inmate who wants to grow a beard, in accordance with his Muslim faith but in violation of prison rules. During oral arguments, the justices reportedly seemed to be siding with the inmate, questioning whether the prison system could ensure inmates' safety without such strict rules against beards.

The Court has agreed to hear a second, similar case, but hasn't yet scheduled oral arguments. This one concerns a woman who was denied a job at an Abercrombie & Fitch store because the head scarf she wore, as a practicing Muslim, wasn't consistent with the company's "Look Policy." The question in the case is whether a business can discriminate against someone's religion if it didn't know that a religious accommodation was needed.

There are also several free speech issues in front of SCOTUS, one involving what constitutes a threat online, one involving Florida's ban on judges personally soliciting campaign contributions, and one involving putting a Confederate flag design on Texas license plates.

A lot on SCOTUS's plate in the next six months, and the decisions could seriously blow a hole in Obama's second term if they are decided by that infamous 5-4 bloc involving Justice Kennedy and the four conservatives.

We'll see.

Jeb Sweeps His Past Under The Rug

Jeb Bush has a number of problems that will prevent him from winning the White House in 2016, but the reality is that he won't even make it past the primaries with his history in profiting from big banks and Obamacare.

Bush is quitting Tenet Healthcare Corp. — a company that has profited from Obamacare — and is ending a consulting contract with Barclays Bank to focus on his political future. Aides say he also has stopped giving highly paid speeches to focus on traveling America, meeting with potential donors and testing what a friend calls a “visionary” brand of campaigning.

But Bush’s business record, enmeshed in international finance and some troubled former ventures in south Florida, could end up complicating his return to politics and his hopes to follow his father, George H.W. Bush, and his older brother, George W. Bush, into the Oval Office.

Last year, he took a step into the rarefied world of private equity and offshore investments, joining with former banking executives and a Chinese airline company to make bets on natural gas exploration and shipping. One of the funds was set up in the United Kingdom, a structure that allows the company to shield overseas investors from U.S. taxes.

His primary opponents are going to eat him alive.

"Jeb Bush made millions from Obamacare and only quit his job as a Washington lobbyist when he decided to run for President.  He's hoping none of us remember."  And fade to black.

Good luck getting past Super Tuesday, Jebbie.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Last Call For They See When You Are Sleeping

The NSA, responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, released a series of required quarterly and annual reportsto the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board that cover the period from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013.

The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. They were posted on the NSA’s website at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

In a 2012 case, for example, an NSA analyst “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting,” according to one report. The analyst “has been advised to cease her activities,” it said.

Other unauthorized cases were a matter of human error, not intentional misconduct.

Last year, an analyst “mistakenly requested” surveillance “of his own personal identifier instead of the selector associated with a foreign intelligence target,” according to another report.

In 2012, an analyst conducted surveillance “on a U.S. organization in a raw traffic database without formal authorization because the analyst incorrectly believed that he was authorized to query due to a potential threat,” according to the fourth-quarter report from 2012. The surveillance yielded nothing.

Two thoughts:  One, as I've said numerous times, it's entirely possible to hold the position that both the NSA needs massive reform to prevent civil liberties abuses, and that Edward Snowden went about exposing these abuses in a way that damaged national security.  The ACLU on the other hand requested this information through FOIA, and got it.  No espionage or skullduggery was required, and the information clearly shows the NSA isn't following its own oversight procedures.  This was the right way to get evidence of these massive abuses and does so in a manner that's both responsible and powerful.

Two, please remember that Senate Republicans, including Rand Paul, killed legislation that would have increased oversight and civil liberties protections involving the NSA just last month, so the opportunity to do something about this was killed by the GOP.  They're not interested in reforming the NSA, they're interested in allowing these abuses to continue.

It's pretty rancid for a Christmas Day news dump, but there you have it.

Toying With The Crowd

President Obama, being a father of two daughters, might know a thing or two about what toys girls like to play with.

The answer of course is "all of them."

Merry Christmas, folks.

StupidiNews, Xmas Edition!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Last Call For Horrible Bosses, NKY Edition

Two elected officials here in NKY, both defeated in November elections, made eBossWatch's list of America's Worst Bosses.

Park Hills Mayor Don Catchen and Grant County Jailer Terry Peeples – neither of whom was re-elected – deny the allegations that put them among the top 100 worst bosses.

“You can make accusations about anybody,” Catchen said Wednesday. “None of it was substantiated. I left our city in a much better position than it’s ever been.”

The Enquirer reported in August that Park Hills settled two lawsuits involving an allegation that Catchen fired the city's former female police chief, Amy Schworer, because of her gender. During depositions in the case, Catchen was also accused of making racist remarks toward black residents in Park Hills, statements Catchen vehemently denies.

Catchen was defeated in the Nov. 4 general election by write-in candidate Matthew Mattone.

A lawsuit filed in July by one current and two former jail employees accuse Grant County Jailer Terry Peeples of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It also alleged Peeples threatened the employees from going to authorities and coerced them into lying under oath.

“There’s been a bevy of lawsuits,” Peeples’ attorney, Jeff Mando, said Wednesday. “There has been no court that has found that Terry Peeples has discriminated against any of his employees. It is all bogus, and we’re going to fight it tooth and nail in court.”

Chris Hankins defeated Peeples in the Nov. 4 election for Grant County jailer.

I'm glad these two lumps of coal are gone for the New Year, frankly.  Want to see which bosses made the list where you live?  Check it out here.

Back home in NC, I see Iredell County Sheriff Phil Redmond and his sexual assault lawsuit landed him at number 6 for preying on domestic violence victims.

Way to protect and serve, Phil!

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Another Death In St. Louis

St. Louis County police has released video they say shows that 18-year old black teen pulled a 9mm handgun on two police officers at a gas station in the suburb of Berkeley, Missouri.  One of the officers fired his weapon several times and one shot struck and killed the teen, Antonio Martin.

The shooting happened about 5 miles northwest of Ferguson, where a white police officer fatally shot unarmed Michael Brown in August, sparking months of civil unrest.

At about 11:15 p.m. CT Tuesday while conducting a routine business check, a police officer saw two males at the side of a gas station, Sgt. Brian Schellman, a St. Louis County police spokesman, said in a statement.

The officer, whose name has not been released, approached them. Then one of the men pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officer, Schellman said.

"Fearing for his life, the Berkeley officer fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him," Schellman said. "The second subject fled the scene."

It's difficult to see what was in the video.  It's not clear that anything happened other than Martin's arm was raised.  The police are saying that Martin had priors for armed robbery and was "known" to the Berkley cops.  Oh, and the cop's body camera was turned off.


What the video does show is several witnesses however: the person with Martin at the time of the shooting, and at least two people who pull up in a car to the gas station during the conversation Martin had with the two officers.

Somehow, I doubt there will be a trial.  Antonio Martin will be just another "armed thug" who "got what he deserved".  What really happened? Most likely we'll never know, right?  Never trust a government employee unless he's got a grainy picture of a black man "pointing a gun" I guess.

Meanwhile in Houston, a grand jury refused to indict a cop there for shooting an unarmed black man.

Darrell Issa's Crap-Ass Christmas

After 18 months of wasting taxpayer money, professional car thief and California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa hasn't been able to find anything at the IRS other than people who think Republicans are jackasses.

An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that the errors were not motivated by partisanship.

Republican lawmakers, dismissing the Obama administration’s denials, have suggested that the delays were not only politically motivated but also orchestrated by the White House.

Some of the most strident comments have come from Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has issued subpoenas to compel testimony from administration officials and held a series of tumultuous hearings on the I.R.S. scandal.

Mr. Issa, who is stepping down from the chairmanship, has accused the I.R.S. commissioner of engaging in a Watergate-style cover-up and accused administration officials of obstructing his investigation.

In a parting shot, Mr. Issa released the 226-page summary of the panel’s findings on Tuesday. It said that language used in emails collected by the committee suggested that I.R.S. officials in the tax-exemption unit were trying to find ways to penalize groups they disliked.

In one email, for example, an I.R.S. official said of a conservative group, “I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” adding, “This sounds like a bad org,” and “This org gives me an icky feeling.”

Surely somebody needs to be impeached for having an icky feeling.

And so, this version of the GOP Clown Show comes to an end, bought and paid for with millions of your tax dollars.  And because we sat home and blamed Obama, we now get another two years of the GOP Clown Show starting in January, with a different ringmaster.

Good job, America!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grimm Fandango, Con't

Remember New York GOP Rep. Michael Grimm?  The guy who threatened to break a reporter in half "like a boy" and got himself deep into tax evasion charges?  Well, he won re-election in 2014. And he may not have that seat much longer.

Representative Michael G. Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island who was elected to a second term in November despite having been indicted on federal fraud charges, has agreed to plead guilty to a single felony charge of tax evasion, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. 
Mr. Grimm, a former Marine and agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who first ran for office as a law-and-order corruption fighter, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Brooklyn at 1 p.m. on Tuesday for a plea hearing, according to the docket sheet in his case, which provides no further detail. 
He has said he would immediately resign if he were convicted. A guilty plea would almost certainly put him under tremendous pressure to do so.

Hey, let's not forget how long former Florida GOP Rep. Trey Radel held out before he was forced to resign over cocaine use (and he was replaced by the even dumber Curt Clawson.)  Mikey Suits might stick around for a while, convicted felon or not.

But it's Staten Island, and I'm thinking that Grimm's eventual replacement will still be a Republican colostomy bag of an individual.  We'll see how Cuomo handles it should Grimm be out.

Good News Out Of Kentucky

Over in Louisville, the City Council and Mayor Greg Fischer have worked out a deal to raise the city's minimum wage to $9 a hour in 2017.

The lawmakers’ agreement resulted from a series of debates prior to the Louisville Metro Council meeting on Thursday night. All 16 Democrats favored raising the minimum wage, and the nine Republicans voted against it.

Previously, Mayor Greg Fischer had said he would veto the Metro Council’s original proposal to increase the wage to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period. But after the decision on Thursday, he said he agreed to support the increase to $9 during the same time span because “it is a balanced compromised solution.”

“I’m pleased with the Council’s vote, appreciate their hard work on this important issue, and look forward to signing the ordinance into law,” Fischer, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

But not everyone is happy with the change as business groups are considering taking the city ordinance to court, claiming the city doesn't have the authority.

Passage of a "compromise" ordinance to eventually raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour in Jefferson County has not diminished concerns of opponents, and a lawsuit over the Metro Council action is possible but not a certainty, business leaders said Friday. 
"We never said we would definitely sue, but our legal concerns remain and our attorneys have drafted papers" with a lawsuit ready to go, if officials decide to pursue that route, said Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, vice president of public policy for Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce.

Where this goes from here is anyone's guess.  Louisville would be the first city in the South to enact a minimum wage law, but whether or not that law ever goes into effect?  I have my doubts.

We'll see.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Last Call For No Longer Whistling Past Dixie

Looks like the GOP's southern state base wants the deciding word on who will be the Republican nominee in 2016, and they're changing the primary game in order to do it.

Officials in five Southern states — Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas — are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2016. Texas and Florida are considering also holding a primary the same day but may wait until later in the month. Either way, March 1 would be a Southern Super Tuesday, voting en masse on the heels of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

The joint primary, which appears increasingly likely to happen, would present a crucial early test for Republican White House hopefuls among the party’s most conservative voters. It could, in theory, boost a conservative alternative to a Republican who has emerged as the establishment favorite from the four states that kick off the nominating process. But one risk is that the deep-red complexion of the Southern states’ primary electorates would empower a candidate who can’t win in general election battlegrounds like Ohio and Colorado. 
Republicans from the South say their states make up the heart of the GOP and that it’s only fitting the region should have commensurate say over whom the party puts forward to compete for the White House. Proponents are already dubbing March 1 the “SEC primary,” after the NCAA’s powerhouse Southeastern Conference.

Especially if Texas and Florida join this little party, it's entirely possible that the GOP will have a presumptive nominee by St. Patrick's Day in 2016.  That makes me think more than ever that we'll get a far-right Tea Party nutter out of the GOP in sixteen months, although it could mean Jeb Bush's Florida and Texas connections could vault him into the lead.

Either way, it looks like the Republicans aren't going to repeat their mistake of too many debates and late primaries.  They want a nominee early so they can stop fighting amongst themselves and start attacking Hillary.

Time For Torture Trials

The NY Times on Sunday called for the investigation and if necessary, prosecution of former Vice President Dick Cheney and his crew of merry inquisitors over the CIA's torture program.

The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.

One would expect Republicans who have gone hoarse braying about Mr. Obama’s executive overreach to be the first to demand accountability, but with one notable exception, Senator John McCain, they have either fallen silent or actively defended the indefensible. They cannot even point to any results: Contrary to repeated claims by the C.I.A., the report concluded that “at no time” did any of these techniques yield intelligence that averted a terror attack. And at least 26 detainees were later determined to have been “wrongfully held.”

Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.

Sadly, the American people are perfectly fine with torture and see it as an American value.  Hell, a majority of Americans say the torture report should have never seen the light of day.  And no, nobody will ever be held accountable for this.  As long as the CIA can bleat "We saved American lives" then we don't care and we don't want to know what Cheney and his ghouls did in order to "get actionable intelligence".

The Times is shouting into a hurricane.

Like A Kansas Tornado, Con't

Meanwhile, the noxious dumpster fire that is the Kansas economy continues to burn with no end in sight as GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's awesome austerity plan is now killing thousands of jobs a month.

The new Kansas jobs numbers were released Friday morning, bringing horrible news to state taxpayers and Gov. Sam Brownback.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total number of nonfarm jobs in Kansas fell by 4,100 in November.

Kansas’ disturbing experience was at odds with how much of the rest of the country did. A total of 37 other states gained in employment in November, while only 13 others, including Kansas, dropped.

Missouri boosted employment by 4,500 in November, for instance, while Oklahoma gained 3,400 jobs. Two other neighbors, Nebraska and Colorado, were among the job losers, though not close to the number shredded in Kansas.

What’s this all mean?

The figures show it’s going to be even tougher for Brownback — after pushing through excessive income tax cuts — to make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues from those reductions. They took effect in 2013.

Brownback has promised 2,000 new private sector jobs a month.  So far in 2014 he's at less than half that, and things are only getting worse.

Read more here:

By the way, Kentucky gained 5,300 jobs last month and 37,700 jobs in the last 12 months, a 2.1% gain for the year.  You know, job-killing Obamacare and stuff.  Go figure.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Last Call For A Firing Offense

Just a reminder that racism is still a problem in America, racism among young people is a problem (in case you subscribed to the theory that old racists will just die off or something, it wasn't true 50 years ago, it's not true now) and that racism among cops is a problem.  This from Cleveland:

Aaron McNamara is a young auxiliary officer at the Fairview Park police department [Update: "was" an auxiliary officer with Fairview police; he resigned less than an hour after this story was posted], climbing up the law enforcement ladder as he finishes his college degree this semester with dreams of becoming a federal agent, he says. On social media, he says he's gone through training with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and this June he tweeted he was "Officially sworn in with the Fairview Park Police Department. Wow, this feels good. #DreamChasing."

He also has many thoughts about African Americans.

Over the past two years, McNamara has been commenting on YouTube videos — mostly about black people and law enforcement — regularly dropping racial and gay slurs, unambiguously expressing hatred towards minorities and anyone who dare not comply with what police say. He calls black people in videos "jungle monkeys," "spooks," and worse. He commented on a video of a young black child swearing, saying "This is how cop killers are raised my friends." He's also a fan of when police officers shoot and rough up non-compliant civilians.

Among Aaron McNamara's pearls of wisdom?

"Abolishing slavery was the worst thing we could have done. These people should be exterminated.. Unbelievable."

Reminder, this guy is in college (so educated enough to finish high school and pursue a degree), he wasn't in the South (Cleveland), is a Millennial in his twenties (so not from the 1950's or anything) and of course training to become a cop.

A cop who believes people like me should be "exterminated".

Raise your hand if you believe he is alone in meeting this criteria in America as we head into 2015.

Sunday Long Read: As Good As It Gets For Liberals

American Interest curmudgeon Walter Russell Mead makes the case that liberals in the US have no idea how good they had it under Obama, because the near-permanent rightward shift of America is imminent.

Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the U.S. Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.

These are not the only issues in which, from a left Democratic point of view, the country is overrun with zombies and vampires: policy ideas that Democrats thought had been killed but still restlessly roam the earth. The finale of the George W. Bush presidency was, for many Democrats, conclusive evidence that conservative ideas just don’t work. The post 9/11 Bush foreign policy led to two long and unhappy wars. America had lost the trust of its allies without defeating its enemies. At home, the Bush tax cuts led to an exploding deficit, and the orgy of deregulation (admittedly, much of it dating from the Clinton years) led to the greatest financial crash since World War II and the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Could a set of political ideas be more discredited?” liberals ask. The foreign policy failures of the Bush years, they believe, should have killed conservative ideology about America’s role in the world, and the financial crisis, they are certain, should have driven a stake through the heart of conservative economic doctrine. Yet: Here we are, six years into the Age of Obama, and the Tea Party is alive and Occupy is dead. The Republicans swept the midterm elections both nationally and at the state level—and Hillary Clinton appears more interested in conciliating Wall Street than in fighting it, and more interested in building bridges to conservative foreign policy thinkers than in continuing the Obama foreign policy. (And with even Jimmy Carter lambasting Obama’s Middle East policy as too weak, and the President committing to new troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s not clear that even President Obama wants to stay the course.)

Mead goes on to say that it's over for the left for good, that the Right will dominate, and if you thought Obama wasn't good enough, Hillary will be worse.

So just jump off a cliff now, libtards, right?

Not so fast.  The problem with the right is that you can always count on them overplaying their position and destroying themselves (and the country) in the process.  So yes, I think we are going to make a major shift to the right, and it's going to wreck the country again.  People have bet on the "permanent Republican majority" before and lost.

Maybe when the smoke clears next time, we'll have learned something.

The Morning After Brooklyn

The aftermath of last night's shooting of two NYPD beat cops is a grisly affair, with Republicans blaming Mayor de Blasio, AG Eric Holder, and of course, President Obama by proxy.  Former GOP Gov George Pataki made an ass of himself.

Pataki cast disdain at the mayor and the attorney general in a post on Twitter.

"Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of Eric Holder and Mayor de Blasio," he tweeted.

He was referring to de Blasio's and Holder's support for peaceful protesters decrying alleged police brutality after the killing of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two unarmed black men who died in confrontations with officers this year.

Protesters have taken to streets nationwide to demand an end to killings of unarmed people by police officers.

Hours before Saturday's attack, Brinsley appeared to make statements on social media implying he planned to kill officers and expressing outrage over the deaths of Garner and Brown.

Pat Lynch, the head of New York's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, has vehemently attacked the mayor before and did so again the day of the shooting.

"There's blood on many hands tonight," Lynch said before making reference to the mayor's office.

De Blasio did not respond to the denunciations against him, but he condemned the killing of the officers as an "assassination" while Holder described it as a "cowardly attack."

And of course, it's all the fault of those people.

Not to be outdone, social media users joined the fray. Others objected to the finger pointing.

Some turned to hashtags #BlackLivesMatter for Garner and Brown -- and #BlueLivesMatter for police officers -- to share their opinions.

"Everyone who turned Michael Brown into a saint, the assassination of those cops is on you," username @mattcale52 tweeted.

This is an awful tragedy, but let's be real here.  It's going to get a lot uglier.  You couldn't pay me to be in NYC right now.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Last Call For New York's Finest

Two New York City police officers were shot and killed ambush-style Saturday as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn, according to two law enforcement sources. 
Both officers were shot in the head, one of the sources said. Few other details were available. 
They had been rushed to a hospital in critical condition, said police spokesman Sgt. Lee Jones. 
The families of the fallen officers arrived at Woodhull Medical Center on Saturday afternoon, as dozens of police officers gathered in a show of support. 
The alleged shooter was found dead in a nearby subway station from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a law enforcement official. 
The shooting occurred near Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

As I said on Twitter today, no, those NYPD cops didn't deserve to die. Neither did Eric Garner or Tamir Rice. It's 100% possible to have this view.  But none of that will matter now.  Two dead cops in NYC killed by a black man is all people will see.

The Foul Fix In Ferguson, Con't

So it turns out that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch knew his witnesses were lying, and had them testify in the Darren Wilson grand jury proceeding anyway.

McCulloch: Well, early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything was going to be presented to the grand jury.

And I knew that no matter how I handled it, there would be criticism of it. So if I didn’t put those witnesses on, then we’d be discussing now why I didn’t put those witnesses on. Even though their statements were not accurate.

So my determination was to put everybody on and let the grand jurors assess their credibility, which they did. This grand jury poured their hearts and souls into this. It was a very emotional few months for them. It took a lot of them.

I wanted to put everything on there.

I thought it was much more important to present everything and everybody, and some that, yes, clearly were not telling the truth. No question about it.

Bonus points:  He can't charge these witnesses with false statements because he just admitted publicly that he knew they were lying and if he does, he perjures himself in the process.

McCulloch: That issue has been raised, and it’s a legitimate issue. But, in the situation again, in the manner in which we did it, we’re not going to file perjury charges against anyone.

There were people who came in and, yes, absolutely lied under oath.Some lied to the FBI. Even though they’re not under oath, that’s another potential offense — a federal offense.

 So yes, this is obscene.  The witnesses lied to the grand jury, and because of that, the jury proceedings are bogus at best and an outright attempt to swing the jury's verdict under false pretenses at worst.

But Darren Wilson continues to go free.

The fix was always in.

A Couple Of Cuban Hams

Seems Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are no longer buddies, as they are now on opposite sides of Obama's Cuba normalization policy heading into 2015, and it's starting to get...personal.

The disagreement between Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) over America's changing relationship with Cuba is escalating quickly.

Rubio was among the loudest opponents to President Barack Obama's announcement that the United States would begin normalizing relations with its Caribbean neighbor. After Paul said he supported the change, Rubio lashed out, saying Paul "has no idea what he's talking about."

Rand's response?

Rand Paul accusing somebody of being an isolationist.  Rand Paul.  And being correct about it.

The clown car slapfights are starting to get amusing.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Call For Last Man Out, Turn Off The Lights

President Obama's end-of-year press conference for 2014 was one for the ages.

President Obama did something remarkable on Friday. He held his last press conference of the year, and the only people in the entire press corps who were called on to ask questions were women. Yes, this was on purpose; it had to be.

It was amazing.

The first woman ever to cover a president was the late Helen Thomas and she had been a fixture in the first row of the briefing room and at presidential news conferences for decades beginning with John F. Kennedy's presidency. 
And, for the record, here are the eight reporters -- all of them print reporters, it should be noted -- who got called on. 
  • Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
  • Cheryl Bolen, Bloomberg
  • Julie Pace, Associated Press
  • Lesley Clark, McClatchy
  • Roberta Rampton, Reuters
  • Colleen M. Nelson, Wall Street Journal
  • Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
  • April Ryan, American Urban Radio 
The eighth was a bonus question. As is custom, when reporters thought Obama was heading for the exits, they shouted one last question at him. A male reporter asked Obama about his New Year's resolution. 
Obama ignored it and called on Ryan instead.

I'm still chuckling over this.  Obama Trolling level: Pallas Athena.

Credit Where Credit Is Blatantly Appropriated

Over at Bloomberg News, Josh Rogin has apparently gotten into the special egg nog a little early.

Although President Barack Obama is taking the credit for Wednesday’s historic deal to reverse decades of U.S. policy toward Cuba, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she was the main architect of the new policy and pushed far harder for a deal than the Obama White House
From 2009 until her departure in early 2013, Clinton and her top aides took the lead on the sometimes public, often private interactions with the Cuban government. According to current and former White House and State Department officials and several Cuba policy experts who were involved in the discussions, Clinton was also the top advocate inside the government for ending travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and reversing 50 years of U.S. policy to isolate the Communist island nation. Repeatedly, she pressed the White House to move faster and faced opposition from cautious high-ranking White House officials. 
After Obama announced the deal Wednesday, which included the release of aid contractor Alan Gross, Clinton issued a supportive statement distributed by the National Security Council press team. “As Secretary of State, I pushed for his release, stayed in touch with Alan’s wife Judy and their daughters, and called for a new direction in Cuba," she said. "Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power.” 
Yet Clinton played down her own role in the issue, which will surely become important if she decides to run for president. Top prospective Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have all come out against the president’s policy shift. 
Clinton’s advocacy on behalf of opening a new relationship with Cuba began almost as soon as she came into office. Obama had campaigned on a promise to engage enemies, but the White House initially was slow to make good on that pledge, and on the Cuba front enacted only a modest relaxation of travel rules. From the start, Clinton pushed to hold Obama to his promise with regard to Cuba. 
Hillary Clinton played a very large role,” said Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation who advocated for changes to U.S.-Cuba policy. “The president, when he ran for office and when he came in, thought that doing something on Cuba front would be smart. But as soon as he got into office, though, every other priority hit him.”

If there was any doubt that President Obama's move on Cuba is a massive foreign policy legacy point for the history books that will stand the test of time, please note the blinding speed at which the credit for the deal is being given to someone else.

Also, if there was ever any doubt that Hillary Clinton was not going to have trouble earning the trust of Obama 2008 primary voters, well, please note the same goddamn thing. The false modesty angle actually made me laugh aloud while reading it, as if this wasn't the perfect example of That Awesome Co-Worker Taking Credit.

It's one thing to say "Secretary Clinton had a role in this" and another thing completely to say she was the "main architect" of a diplomatic coup that happened 2 years after she left Foggy Bottom. Maybe I'd be a little less angry if this was the first time people were trying to "Aww shucks" their way into giving her credit for something President Obama accomplished, and again I'm sure she did play a part.

But in the end, a Secretary of State is implementing the foreign policy of a President. Period. Deal with it.
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