Wow, I completely missed the morning.
I promise to get the morning reads up before the sun sets today, but just a quick observation before I get out of bed.
Last night I saw this headline and it gave me a powerful chill of deja vu. The Guardian via The Raw Story:
Hmmmm….where have I heard that kind of talk before?
From July 2005, The Washington Post regarding the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Sorry if this similarity has already been made around the blogosphere….this is an open thread. Morning reads coming soon.
Wow, I completely forgot it was my turn up at bat. This morning’s post will be mainly links that I have saved up over the last few days. Being sick does have its advantages, you get to bypass all the horrible news stories…and only read about them if you want to catch up. Let’s just say, I didn’t want to catch up and leave it at that.
So here we go…
No kidding? What do you think brought about this reflective change of feelings from the former Justice? I wonder if it was all that press Dubya got recently from the grand opening of his Presidential Library and Museum to Idiotic Decisions. Anyway, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, O’Connor had this to say about Bush v. Gore:
Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken the case.
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ “
The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”
“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
Ya don’t say? Too little, too late if you ask me.
Well, from one load of shit to another load of shit. However, this load of shit was dumped by a Sandy…not a Sandra. Hurricane Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into East Coast waterways
Hurricane Sandy dumped about 11bn gallons of raw and untreated sewage into waterways from Washington DC to Connecticut, the science journalism group Climate Central said on Tuesday. That’s or enough human waste to cover New York’s Central Park in 41ft of sewage, or fill 17,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, scientists told a conference call with reporters.
Damn, that is a whole lotta crap.
Hmmm, speaking of which: Rocky Musical Trailer | Geekosystem
…draw a Venn diagram between fans of Broadway musicals and fans of the Rocky franchise, I would just draw two circles that were very far away from each other. Sylvester Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA seem to disagree with my assessment, and they’re betting there’s enough of an overlap for their new musical Rocky to be a success. Whether you think a musical version of Rocky is a great idea or a terrible one, the new trailer for the production will probably confirm your opinion. There’s not enough in the video to really indicate whether this will be a good musical version of Rocky or a bad musical version of Rocky, but it sure shows that there’s a musical version of Rocky happening.
Uhhhh…..were you even able to get through that trailer? ( I couldn’t. ) It seems to me that this production of Rocky is what Bialystock and Bloom should have produced as a sure fire flop…instead of Springtime for Hitler.
Damn that is crap.
Alright, sorry there. That is awful. Looks like Gitmo is not the only place where America is practicing torture these days.
Did you see the campaign donor “mess” in Virgina?/snark. I like the title of this Atlantic article, it is a take on a real damn good Helen Mirren movie: The Governor, His Wife, Their Cook, and the FBI – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire
The FBI is now investigating whether or not Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell violated any laws when he allowed a campaign donor to pay for catering at his daughter’s wedding. That is perhaps the least weird part of the story.
The crux of the issue is whether or not McDonnell violated the law by allowing Star Scientific, a company run by Jonnie Williams, to pick up the $15,000 food and floral tab for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding in 2011. The governor explains his failure to report the spending on his finance reports by insisting that the donation was a gift to his daughter. Under Virginia law, only gifts received by officeholders need to be reported. Earlier this month, the Washington Post walked through the evidence for and against that claim. The daughter paid for other parts of the wedding, for example, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. But McDonnell’s guidance is literally written all over the agreement between the caterer and the family, which the governor signed.
Read more about the twist and turns at the Atlantic link above or here at this Washington Post link: AP sources: FBI looks into relationship between Va. governor, campaign donor – The Washington Post
All these sordid stories lately, a sleaze-ball porn king backs a sleaze-ball former governor currently running for the US senate, innocent Elvis impersonators, and ricin laced dojos of mensa wannabe martial arts instructors. Not to mention…My Son, the Terrorist.
Then you have Congress, or as Jon Stewart calls them:
“Do-Nothing F@#ktards who couldn’t solve a problem if it was eating them alive anus first.”
Video at the link!
Wow…that is something innit?
But there have been some extraordinary news items that you may have missed.
**Post updated @8:00am below!**
A US army veteran has been found living in a remote Vietnam village 44 years since his plane was shot down and presumed dead, a new documentary suggests.
Unclaimed, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Michael Jorgenson, claims that a frail, elderly man, found in a remote south Vietnam village unable to remember the English language, his date of birth or even the names of his wife and two children, may be Sgt John Hartley Robertson – a former Green Beret shot down in 1968.
Sgt Robertson was working on a special operation over the South East Asian country of Laos when his helicopter was shot down. Despite his body never being found, he was presumed dead for nearly half a century; his name etched on Vietnam memorials and army records listing him as “killed in action”.
Despite this, Sgt Robertson’s family believed it was possible he survived the crash and claimed to have documents proving he had been held in a Vietnamese prison for some time.
Read the rest of this story from the Independent at the link, you can see a trailer for the documentary here:
Can you imagine?
Well, I guess this story was too good to be true….from the Independent:
It is claimed that the man tacked down and ‘identified’ for a new documentary is in fact a fraudster who the US
government performed DNA tests on 20 years ago and whose story had been fully
Had it been true, it would have been one of
the most gripping war stories of all time.
But sadly it looks as if the man found living in the Vietnam jungle, who a new documentary claims is ‘long dead’ US army veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson, is likely to be a fraud.
Meanwhile, after some back and forth…Mariela Castro to get gay rights award in Philly
The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will be allowed to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, officials said Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.
Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.
Lazin, who had blasted the State Department’s travel denial last week, said organizers are “delighted” at the change of heart.
“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”
Castro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.
Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.
I am glad she is able to come and get this award. It is an important step no matter what anyone says.
Now check this out, Groundbreaking Surgery for Girl Born Without Windpipe
Using plastic fibers and human cells, doctors have built and implanted a windpipe in a 2 ½-year-old girl — the youngest person ever to receive a bioengineered organ.
The surgery, which took place on April 9 here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois and will be formally announced Tuesday, is only the sixth of its kind and the first to be performed in the United States. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration under rules that allow experimental procedures when otherwise the patient has little hope of survival.
Hannah was born without a windpipe, or trachea — an extremely rare condition that is eventually fatal in 99 percent of cases — and had lived since birth in a newborn intensive care unit in a Korean hospital, breathing through a tube inserted in her mouth. Because of other developmental problems, she cannot eat normally and cannot speak.
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a specialist in the field of regenerative medicine who developed the windpipe and led the complex nine-hour operation, said the treatment of the Korean-Canadian toddler, Hannah Warren, made him realize that this approach to building organs may work best with children, by harnessing their natural ability to grow and heal.
Isn’t that wonderful?
I think it is good to end on that happy note, and let you all take it from there.
How are things going for y’all today?
Good Late Afternoon…
There are soooooo many cartoons for tonight’s post, I have to break them up. Here then we focus primarily on Dubya…and the grand opening of his new building thing that’s filled with those, what ya call ‘em…books?
First a primer, you need to see Jon Stewart’s take on the Bush Library:
Jon Stewart had some good nostalgic fun tonight taking on the George W. Bush presidential library for trying to dust over the actual legacy of the former president’s administration. Stewart was very excited to dust off his old Bush impression and remember the good ol’ days of war with Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and all the rest of it, summing up the Bush library as “the Hard Rock Café of catastrophic policy decisions.”
Go and watch the clips….that is too damn funny.
Seriously, can you believe there is an interactive decision maker where if you choose the wrong decision Bush comes on the screen and tells you why you made the wrong choice!
Here is Voice of America’s take on it: At New Bush Library, Visitors Weigh In on Big Decisions
A central exhibit at the museum – called “Decision Points Theater” – gives visitors a chance to watch footage of breaking news from the Bush era, listen to actors posing as officials and military leaders offering “advice” and make their own interactive choices on the key crises that Bush faced.
The former president then shows up on a screen justifying the decisions he made.
I’m at a loss for words…
Anyway, let’s get on with the funnies dammit!
I love that x mark…
Now, be sure you look at the titles of the books in this next one…
I posted this next one earlier this week, but it was too good not to front page it.
Via Balloon Juice, Artist Work by Danzinger Cartoonist
This is an open thread, another cartoon post will be up late tonight.
Unfortunately there is quite a bit of bad news breaking right now.
I’ll start with the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh.
From the Independent UK: Rescuers battle on as toll rises to 175 at collapsed Dhaka factory block that supplied Primark
Rescuers in Bangladesh are battling to save those trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building that contained garment factories as the death toll soared to at least 175. Many more hundreds of people were injured.
Hundreds of members of rescue teams, assisted by members of the military, frantically tried to clear rubble and debris amid fears that the death toll could rise yet higher.
The eight-storey building containing the factories which produced garments for several Western brands including Primark and Walmart, had been inspected on Tuesday and was found to have cracks.
But officials said the owners of the building assured the 2,000-odd employees that there was no danger and told them to carry on with their work….
The cracks were discovered on Tuesday and were so big that the local television news channel made a report about them. Staff from a bank that is housed in the same building were evacuated. However, the garment factories kept their staff working
With deep cracks visible in the walls, police had ordered a Bangladesh garment building evacuated the day before its deadly collapse, but the factories flouted the order and kept more than 2,000 people working, officials said Thursday. More than 200 people died when a huge section of the eight-story building splintered into a pile of concrete.
The disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar came less than five months after a blaze killed 112 people in a garment factory and underscored the unsafe conditions faced by Bangladesh’s garment workers, who produce clothes for brands worn around the world. Some of the companies in the building that fell say their customers include retail giants such as Wal-Mart.
Hundreds of rescuers, some crawling through the maze of rubble in search of survivors and corpses, worked through the night and into Thursday amid the cries of the trapped and the wails of workers’ relatives gathered outside the building, called Rana Plaza, which housed numerous garment factories and a handful of other companies.
An AP photographer ventured into the rubble and talked to one man who was
pinned face down in the darkness between concrete slabs and next to two corpses. Mohammad Altab pleaded for help, but they were unable to free him.
“Save us, brother. I beg you, brother. I want to live,” moaned Altab, a garment worker. “It’s so painful here … I have two little children.”
Another survivor, whose voice could be heard from deep in the rubble, wept as he called for help.
“We want to live brother; it’s hard to remain alive here. It would have been better to die than enduring such pain to live on. We want to live. Please save us,” the man cried.
I linked to this Matthew Yglesias post in a comment last night, but I’m going to include it here again because it is just so disgusting: Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK
It’s very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh where 87 people just died in a building collapse.* This kind of consideration leads Erik Loomis to the conclusion that we need a unified global standard for safety, by which he does not mean that Bangladeshi levels of workplace safety should be implemented in the United States.
I think that’s wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.
The reason is that while having a safe job is good, money is also good. Jobs that are unusually dangerous—in the contemporary United States that’s primarily fishing, logging, and trucking—pay a premium over other working-class occupations precisely because people are reluctant to risk death or maiming at work. And in a free society it’s good that different people are able to make different choices on the risk–reward spectrum.
Um . . . No, it’s not okay. Read more at the link if you can stomach it.
Back in the USA, there have now been seven explosions on fuel barges in Alabama.
One of the things that drives me crazy as an economist and a citizen looking at this so-called “fiscal cliff” is that our fiscal strife has been created by the people least likely to suffer from its resolution. Congress gave the Bush administration authority to start a series of unfunded, reckless wars that have lasted well over a decade. Congress passed the Bush administration’s reckless tax cuts and generous loopholes that have benefited the few at the cost of the many. The Bush administration’s and Congress’ lack of oversight and deregulation of the financial services’ industry created a low-risk, gambling casino with the national investment and savings accounts and the debt markets. This led to a huge recession. These are the roots of our fiscal problems. But, the discussions around cleaning up messes in the District mostly surround Social Security which has nothing to do with the national debt and deficit and items that have become more necessary to average Americans since Congress and the Bush Administration broke the country with its bad policies.
Here’s some of the latest examples. Closing loopholes and unnecessary deductions for certain constituents is a good idea. However, which of these things are on the chopping block? Inkling its way up the priority list is the major middle and working class deduction and source of household wealth: the mortgage interest deduction. I have no problem with eliminating second mortgages, mortgages on boats, and mortgages on second properties. These benefit very few people and really serve little policy purpose. Capping the deduction–with an annual COLA adjustment to the median price and below-based mortgages is also fine. However, what are we likely to see?
As the Obama administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill scramble to defuse automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect Jan. 1, a herd of sacred cows — from Social Security and Medicare to deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest — are in danger of losing their untouchable status.
Members of both parties have largely steered clear of detailed proposals so far. But plans put forth in the past year by President Obama and Mitt Romney to place limits on annual total tax deductions are likely to crimp the mortgage-interest deduction for certain taxpayers. Top congressional Republicans also have expressed openness to limiting total tax deductions as part of an overall budget deal. In addition, the presidentially appointed Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission suggested scaling back the mortgage-interest deduction as part of its own set of tax-related proposals.
Current law allows homeowners to deduct the interest paid on mortgage balances up to $1 million, including on second homes, as well as on $100,000 worth of home-equity loans. The deduction overwhelmingly benefits wealthier families, partly because they tend to have larger mortgages and pay more interest, and partly because most low- and middle-income Americans do not itemize deductions on their tax returns. It also tends to favor homeowners on the East and West Coasts, as well as those in large cities such as Chicago, where average home prices are higher.
Edward Kleinbard, a tax expert and law professor at the University of Southern California, said the mortgage-interest deduction represents the kind of government “extravagance” that the country no longer can justify, given its fiscal troubles.
“We simply cannot afford wasteful government subsidy programs anymore, and this is one of the most important examples of that,” Kleinbard said. “It’s very much a subsidy to those Americans who need it least.”
Mitch McConnell continues to service Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth. He’s back on his high horse for no tax increases for the wealthy. Ending tax cuts for the wealthy endlessly shown to have no ill-impact on the economy. There is also no real benefit to extending them.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) slammed the door Thursday morning on Democratic demands to raise tax rates on families earning more than $250,000 per year.
“We’re insisting on keeping tax rates where they are, first and foremost, to protect jobs and because we don’t think government needs the money in the first place,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“The problem, as I’ve said, is that Washington spends too much. But if more revenue is the price that Democrats want to exact, then we should at least agree to do it in a way that doesn’t cost jobs and disincentivize rates, as we all know raising rates would do,” he said.
McConnell’s comments came a day after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shot down a proposal by a senior GOP lawmaker, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, to agree to extend tax rates only for families earning below $250,000 and resume the battle against higher tax rates on the wealthy next year.
Boehner said President Obama and Democrats should focus on finding ways to cut spending and reform entitlement programs.
The fate of the Bush-era tax rates — which will expire for all income levels in January — has dominated the debate over the slew of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to begin next year.
McConnell scolded the president Thursday for sticking fast to his campaign pledge to seek higher taxes on the rich, and made clear that raising tax rates on anyone is unacceptable.
The debate over Medicare is likely to be equally absurd. Medicare needs some reworking. Most of its problems comes from the pharmacy benefit which currently allows Big Pharma to price gouge participants and the taxpayers. But, you wouldn’t know that from the conversation. Republicans are playing games with Amercan’s health. They appear to be clinging to the Ryan’s voucher plan which would be disastrous for the majority of retired seniors.
The austerity crisis talks have hit a peculiar impasse. The problem isn’t, as most analysts expected, taxes, where Republicans seem increasingly resigned to new revenue. It’s Medicare. And the particular Medicare problem isn’t that Democrats are refusing the GOP’s proposed Medicare cuts. It’s that Republicans are refusing to name their Medicare cuts.
Politico quotes a “top Democratic official” who paints the picture simply: “Rob Nabors [the White House negotiator], has been saying: ‘This is what we want on revenues on the down payment. What’s your guys’ ask on the entitlement side?’ And they keep looking back at us and saying: ‘We want you to come up with that and pitch us.’ That’s not going to happen.”
That’s partly politics. If nothing else, Republicans are respectful of Medicare’s political potency. Recall that a core Republican message in both the 2010 and 2012 elections was that Democrats, through Obamacare, were cutting Medicare too much. Republicans, already concerned about their brand, don’t want to rebrand themselves as the party of Medicare cuts.
But it’s partly policy, too. The fact is that short of converting the program to a premium support system — a non-starter after they lost the 2012 election — Republicans simply don’t know what they want to do on Medicare.
Scour the various outlets for Democratic policy ideas and you’ll find plenty of proposed Medicare cuts. President Obama’s 2013 budget, for instance, includes hundreds of billions in Medicare cuts (see pages 33-37), and caps the program’s long-term growth at GDP+0.5 percent. More recently, the Center for American Progress released a 46-page proposal for cutting Medicare by almost $400 billion.
Republicans, meanwhile, have focused their energy on a long-term effort to convert Medicare to a premium-support model. Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget kept the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts for the next 10 years and proposed to convert the program to a premium-support model in the future. Mitt Romney’s platform proposed reversing Obamacare’s Medicare cuts and offered a vague framework for converting the program to a premium-support model in the future.
If you dig deep into the Republican think tank world, you can find a few proposals that focus on the near-term.
The current fiscal ‘cliff’ framework appears to place a lot of burden on those least able to take it as well as those least responsible for creating the problems.
Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion — the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion — and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and “war savings.” And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The two men had a 30-minute phone conversation Wednesday night — but the private lines of communications remain very much open.
No doubt, there will be lots of huffing and puffing before any deal can be had. And, no doubt, Obama and Congress could easily botch any or all three of the white-knuckle moments soon to hit this town: the automatic spending cuts and expiration of the Bush tax cuts, both of which kick in at the end of this year, and the federal debt limit that hits early next.
Go to the Politico story for a concept of what’s at stake and at issue.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday there had been “no substantive progress” in fiscal-cliff negotiations in the two weeks since congressional leaders met with President Obama.
Boehner, addressing reporters after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Capitol, called on the White House to “get serious” about the talks and warned of a “real danger” that Jan. 1 would come without a deal if President Obama did not offer up specific spending cuts he would be willing to accept.
“Despite claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Boehner said. “Secondly, no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House in the last two weeks.
“Listen, this is not a game,” he added. “Jobs are on the line. The American economy is on the line, and this is a moment for adult leadership.”
The Speaker criticized the president for holding “campaign-style rallies” instead of engaging in serious talks.