Friday Reads

Good Morning!

Well, we’ve always known Pat Robertson was a little off.  Reconcile all his throw back ideas about women and the GLBT community with his views on decriminalizing marijuana, I dare you!!

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs.

“I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up,” he said.

Rush has lost at least 50 advertisers after his horrendous, personal attacks on a university student exercising her first amendment rights. Just what kind of advertisers does the big blowhard have left?  Well, he’s picked up an online dating service for married people interested in extramarital relations. There’s your family values for you!!!

Advertisers learned something about Rush Limbaugh’s demographic this week.

“Here we thought lots of pleasant, upstanding people were listening to and enjoying the rational things Rush had to say,” dozens of companies said. “Apparently not.”

It turns out that people who really, truly still enjoy Rush Limbaugh’s show are — how do I put this? — jerks.

At least that’s what the new advertisements moving into the vast empty lot of Rush Limbaugh, Inc., implies. “Ah,” you say, as a rat runs over your foot and several people offer payday loans and try to sell you watches from their trench coats. “This place seems to have gone downhill somewhat.”

So far, he’s picked up, the site where you go to cheat on your wife, and another Web site that is explicitly for sugar-daddy matchmaking.

Republicans in the House have basically gone after finance regulators in a way that would basically change one of the major mandates of the Fed’s economic stabilization mandate and the SEC’s ability to police the markets for fraud.  The FED suggestions are outrageous.  They would completely stop the FED’s ability to stimulate the economy and would change the composition of the FED board from economists to the Bank’s District Presidents who are answerable to their member banks. 

The bill, which will be formally introduced later this week by Congressman Brady, would eliminate the employment leg of the dual mandate, requiring the Federal Reserve to focus only on price stability.

The legislation would also restructure the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The bill would give permanent seats on the committee to the twelve regional Federal Reserve bank presidents, who are chosen by regional Federal Reserve Bank directors. Those boards are composed of private citizens.

While Mary Shapiro of the SEC has been begging for more money to regulate Wall Street, this bill would remove more funds.

Yesterday, SEC chairman Mary Schapiro begged Congress to increase the agency’s funding, arguing that “the rapidly expanding size and complexity of the markets presents enormous oversight challenges.” Representative Barney Frank, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, offered a bill to provide that funding—and Republicans voted lockstep to trash it.

Republicans on the committee offered the perverse argument that since the SEC has repeatedly suffered oversight breakdowns in the past, it’s not entitled to additional funding. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, a Missouri Republican and member of the House Appropriations Committee, echoed this argument in the hearing with Schapiro yesterday:

“I think this body is reticent to throw more money at the SEC until ya’ll have proven that you have addressed the structural problems from within…in a comprehensive way,” [Emerson said]. “Since 2001, SEC’s budget has increased over 200 percent. Despite this tremendous growth in resources over the past decade, the SEC failed to detect Ponzi schemes such as Madoff and Stanford, the U.S. financial system nearly collapsed, and judges continue to question SEC settlements and regulations.”

Further starving a regulatory agency that’s already clearly unable to handle its massive mission is not a terribly convincing argument—one would have to truly believe the SEC is completely capable of policing Wall Street but simply suffering from “structural problems,” as Emerson asserts. (To give a sense of the very real funding problems, JPMorgan Chase—only one of the 35,000 entities the SEC is tasked with regulating—spends four times the entire SEC budget on information technology alone).  But it’s the only argument Republicans have—the SEC is funded entirely by fees from the financial industry, so Republicans can’t carp about the deficit.

None of these folks seem to have any idea about what caused the financial crisis nor how much the underfunding and disabling of regulators and regulators have played into all these problems  It’s really disheartening.

Meanwhile, Romney has told a university student that students going to cheap schools they could afford would be better than government student loans.  BTW, where are there cheap schools now?

Mr. Romney was perfectly polite to the student. He didn’t talk about the dangers of liberal indoctrination on college campuses, as Rick Santorum might have. But his warning was clear: shop around and get a good price, because you’re on your own.

“It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” he said, to sustained applause from the crowd at a high-tech metals assembly factory here. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

There wasn’t a word about the variety of government loan programs, which have made it possible for millions of students to get college degrees. There wasn’t a word urging colleges to hold down tuition increases, as President Obama has been doing, or a suggestion that the student consider a work-study program.

And there wasn’t a word about Pell Grants, in case the student’s family had a low enough income to qualify. That may be because Mr. Romney supports the House Republican budget, which would cut Pell Grants by 25 percent or more at a time when they are needed more than ever.

Instead, the advice was pretty brutal: if you can’t afford college, look around for a scholarship (good luck with that), try to graduate in less than four years, or join the military if you want a free education.

Robert Scheer writes about Dennis Kucinich who will leave Congress after his term finishes.  His district was merged with Marcy Kaptur’s and she won on Tuesday. It’s an interest profile for a quirky politician.

Kucinich never competed in that way. He has been a national symbol of resistance to excessive government power and waste. He also has been a champion of social justice. His has been a rare voice, and one way or another it must continue to be heard. Simply put, when it came to the struggle for peace over war, Dennis was the conscience of the Congress. And he was always at the forefront in defending the rights of unionized workers who once formed the backbone of a solid middle class and who are now threatened with extinction.

Kucinich will surely be back for another turn in public life. As he put it in our Playboy interview:

“I appreciate Woody Allen’s humor because one of my safety valves is an appreciation for life’s absurdities. His message is that life isn’t a funeral march to the grave. It’s a polka.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


36 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. More and more people are living alone. BBC World Update did a story this morning & interviewed the filmmaker of Dreams of A Life, which is debuting at South by Southwest in Austin. It’s about a young woman (38) who died in her London flat while wrapping Christmas presents. She wasn’t found until 3 years later. Here’s a link to the film’s homepage:

    And Cecile Richards was on The Daily Show and she was brilliant. Here’s a story from The Nation:

    Last night on The Ed Show he played a portion of Rush’s show from yesterday, highlighting nearly a minute of dead air, where commercials should have been heard. Appaently 77 or 86 commercials were public service (free) commercials. And The American Heart Association asked to have their PSA pulled from Rush’s show.

    • bostonboomer says:

      If she was wrapping Christmas presents, she had some human connections. Why didn’t any of those people wonder where she was? Did she have family? I think I remember reading about the story at the time, but I can’t remember any details. But I’ve read a number of similar articles recently. Here’s one:

      • There is a link to her story in the link you have above. Apparently she had moved into her apt after escaping a violent boyfriend. She had gone to a battered women’s shelter & they had found the apt for her. Maybe she hadn’t let friends know where she was. It’s tragic & frightening.

    • ralphb says:

      SXSW starts today. I won’t be able to get a parking spot near downtown for over two weeks.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Okay, help me out here ralph, what is SXSW?

      • You mean you aren’t taking 2 weeks off to see all the musicians? Didn’t realize you were in Austin, but from what I understand that’s the only place “progressives” are allowed in Texas (snark). There’s a blog I read frequently by a music lover in Austin:

      • ralphb says:

        SXSW is SouthBySouthwest, the film and music festival which brings lots of people and money to Austin each year. Week 1 is usually film and multimedia while week 2 is a music festival that blows the doors off every venue in town.

        Think of it as kind of a mini Sundance immediately followed by a huge music festival.

      • ralphb says:

        Connie, that’s a nice blog I bookmarked it. She had Lee Leffingwell’s campaign video on there and it reminded me I heard that a well known local cross dresser named Leslie passed away this week. Leslie ran for mayor once and came in 2nd behind the Democrat. The Republican candidate that year placed 4th. Good times.

      • ralphb says:

        Let me do my part to promote tourism.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Is this the same Pat Robertson who only last week blamed the victims of the tornados for their plight because they hadn’t “prayed” long and hard enough?

    Does anyone actually listen to this guy anymore?

    Much like Palin, he continues to garner attention because at one time he ran for higher office even though he has little to offer beyond the “gobbledy gook” he tosses out there for consumption.

    Not much different than Rush in some respects, just minus the vulgarity.

    • NW Luna says:

      Who the hell cares what Pat Robertson thinks?

      Democracy Now radio show today had a piece about possible drug legalization, and interviewed someone who was excited that Robertson was the first “national” figure to speak up in favor of mj legalization. What a character for an endorsement.

  3. janicen says:

    Oh! We were supposed to shop around for the cheap universities! Thanks, Willard. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Of course, there aren’t any. Yet. I wonder if he’s putting the idea out there to set up a Walmart University. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see something like that appear in every state. Cheap degrees, fundamentalist indoctrination, I can totally see something like this happening.

    • bostonboomer says:

      If anyone needed any more evidence that Mitt Romney is a nasty, mean-spirited SOB, those remarks to a high school student should end any thoughts that he’s “reasonable” or a “decent man.” I don’t think even George W. Bush would have said something that brutal in public.

      • ralphb says:

        Dubya looks almost like Lincoln compared to any of these freaks. Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that! Yuck!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        You are right BB, I think these assholes have taken it further then W. Makes me long for the goofy laugh and doofus smirk.

    • gregoryp says:

      As I was taught in my Higher Education classes the concept is: High tuition, high aid. Low tuition, low aid. As a result, if you go to a quality state school with reasonable tuition then you get LESS in the form of grants and you have to actually borrow MORE in order to complete the program. It is a fundamental given that a student MUST attend the highest quality of school they can gain entrance into because it is actually cheaper on their wallet and they have better employment prospects to boot.

      • janicen says:

        Here’s the thing. Quality state school or a big name state school or a not-as-well-known state school makes no difference they all cost the same. The private schools cost about twice as much, but they offer students scholarships that bring the price in line with the state schools. I’m not kidding, we just went through this. There are a lot of colleges in Virginia and if you compare the cost of tuition/room&board, they are all within one or two thousand dollars per year of each other. Like I said, the private ones look like they cost more on paper, but they actually reach out by phone and snail mail and offer scholarships to bring their tuition in line with the state schools. If there isn’t collusion and price fixing going on when it comes to college tuition, I’ll eat my daughter’s mortar board.

        • dakinikat says:

          I put up a link last week that stated the UC schools were more expensive than the ivies for middle class students because of that. States are defunding their higher ed functions.

          • dakinikat says:

            Krugman’s op ed is about this Romney lunacy.

            And Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous and destructive than you may be aware, given what’s been happening lately to American higher education.

            For the past couple of generations, choosing a less expensive school has generally meant going to a public university rather than a private university. But these days, public higher education is very much under siege, facing even harsher budget cuts than the rest of the public sector. Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise; in California, support is down by 20 percent.

            One result has been soaring fees. Inflation-adjusted tuition at public four-year colleges has risen by more than 70 percent over the past decade. So good luck on finding that college “that has a little lower price.”

            Another result is that cash-strapped educational institutions have been cutting back in areas that are expensive to teach — which also happen to be precisely the areas the economy needs. For example, public colleges in a number of states, including Florida and Texas, have eliminated entire departments in engineering and computer science.

            The damage these changes will inflict — both to our nation’s economic prospects and to the fading American dream of equal opportunity — should be obvious. So why are Republicans so eager to trash higher education?

            It’s not hard to see what’s driving Mr. Santorum’s wing of the party. His specific claim that college attendance undermines faith is, it turns out, false. But he’s right to feel that our higher education system isn’t friendly ground for current conservative ideology. And it’s not just liberal-arts professors: among scientists, self-identified Democrats outnumber self-identified Republicans nine to one.

            I guess Mr. Santorum would see this as evidence of a liberal conspiracy. Others might suggest that scientists find it hard to support a party in which denial of climate change has become a political litmus test, and denial of the theory of evolution is well on its way to similar status.

            But what about people like Mr. Romney? Don’t they have a stake in America’s future economic success, which is endangered by the crusade against education? Maybe not as much as you think.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    As annoying as I sometimes found Dennis Kucinich, at least he was mostly pro-choice. Marcy Kaptur’s win is another victory for coat hangers. Before long, the Democratic party is going to be mostly anti-choice, and women will have nowhere at all to turn for safe health care.

    Check out the new Kansas anti-abortion legislation which would not only disallow deducting the cost of an abortion from taxes but also force women to pay sales tax on the procedure.

    • Fannie says:

      What’s next taxes for heart transplants, kidney transplants, and yay, can we get some brain transplants too?

      This kind of state bashing against women only is not fair, but then again we are in a war against women.

  5. ralphb says:

    U.S. Extends Its Run of Strong Job Growth Another Month

    More positive news for the economy. Though I expect Fox to ignore the BLS and quote a Gallup poll instead. It seems the GOP has an ally in Gallup.

  6. ralphb says:

    Ignorance is Strength

    Paul Krugman’s excellent editorial on education and the GOP.

  7. peggysue22 says:

    I heard Mitt tell someone at one of his ‘events’ that they could always join the military to get educational credits. The same GI bill that many of our veterans have had trouble accessing. Romney has also received large donations from several of these ‘for-profit’ universities that target kids from the lower-income bracket, strap them with enormous debt and degrees that often aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. A number of these programs are unaffiliated, so you can’t transfer credits elsewhere. The one I checked out was a $48,000, 2-year business degree from one of these rackets in Florida.

    The scams never end.

    As far as not funding the SEC? If you listen to Rick Santorum, the financial meltdown was all about the spike in gasoline prices. Huh? Do these people really believe what they’re saying? Or just covering for their buddies on Wall St.? I suspect the latter. Even Santorum can’t be that dense.

  8. ralphb says:

    Jon Stewart Promises To Expose The Real Sean Hannity

    “Tonight, in a Daily Show “super top double exclusive +1,” I will reveal to the world who Sean Hannity really is,” Stewart promised. “Where he comes from. I will reveal to you the real Sean Hannity. The Sean Hannity you don’t know, because you don’t watch his show … ever.”


  9. ralphb says:

    IBM Showcases ‘Deep Thunder’ Weather Forecasting App On iPad

    By IBM’s own admission, weather forecasting seemed like an unusual use for its supercomputing technology. But 16 years after it began work the parallel processing supercomputing system that would become known as “Deep Thunder” —- a targeted weather forecasting program — IBM has taken the technology mobile, putting it on an iPad app and showing it off to lawmakers on Capitol Hill at a breakfast event on Wednesday and to reporters at its New York offices later in the week.

    “When you think of supercomputing, your mind doesn’t immediately jump to weather forecasting,” said Michael Valocchi, vice president and partner at IBM’s energy utilities division, in a briefing with TPM. “Weather forecasting doesn’t sound exciting, but what we’ve found is that our system allows for an unprecedented granular look at incoming weather over an 84-hour period in a specific location, down to within a square mile, much more detailed than any other current weather forecast can provide.”

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      from the link:

      She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”
      Asked which Republican candidate she supports, Sayward replied:
      SAYWARD: I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.
      INTERVIEW: Really?
      SAYWARD: Absolutely… Because I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Good afternoon, I am heading over to Murphy NC today to look at the tornado damage, I will dry to post some pictures/video in tonight’s evening news reads.

  11. foxyladi14 says:

    great post Dak. 🙂

  12. northwestrain says:

    Ronnie Raygun was influenced by the dogmatic religious right about AIDS. I find it ironic that Raygun was one of the biggest fu$k ups as Pres and yet the GOP have managed to rewrite history to make Raygun as one of the most admired Presidents.

    Raygun also began the assault on college education while he was Governor and he continued the war on education as Prez. He was a no good rotten bastard. I wore out two TV remote control mute buttons during the reign of Raygun.

    Raygun is one of 0bowma’s heros — yep 0bowma is a Republican just like Raygun.

  13. ralphb says:

    digby: Big Dummies

    Big Government is stalking Soldedad O’Brien, naturally with screeching denunciations of her sad tweets upon the death of Professor Derek bell. Evidently, she’s now Hughey Newton. This Breitbart Industry race baiting is truly disgusting, particularly with the accompanying screeching about victimization.

    The mini Breits make the original loathsome bastard look good by comparison.