Saturday Reads: Is that a Giant Weta in your pocket, or are you just pretending to be Herman Cain…

Good Morning!

Minx here with you today and tomorrow…so let’s get the party started.

Well, it is an exciting day…this afternoon at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, LSU and UGA meet to decide who gets the championship of the SEC. This isn’t the only show in town…also happening today in Atlanta…Herman Cain’s big press announcement.

I am just going to go ahead and get some of the Cain stuff out-of-the-way. Here are a couple of links Boston Boomer sent me last night:  Cain launches website smearing accusers as ‘pathetic husbandless women’ | The Raw Story

Herman Cain’s struggling presidential campaign has created a new website that they say is a “fellowship of women dedicated to helping elect Herman Cain” — but the real purpose seems to be to destroy the reputation of his accusers.

While the website “Women for Cain” is chaired by Cain’s wife, Gloria Cain, it does not offer a single statement by her. Instead, it asks other women to share “thoughts and encouragement for Mr. Cain.”

The candidate has described the accusations of sexual impropriety as “character assassination on me,” but it may be the alleged victims whose characters are being assassinated with the comments his campaign has chosen to publish.

He is really trying extra hard to earn the women vote isn’t he?

Featuring a stock photo of women giving thumbs up — a photo that’s been used by numerous other websites — it quotes a woman named Barbara Dayan.

“Dear Mrs. Cain Don’t pay attention to these pathetic husbandless women who are jealous of women like you in happy long-term marriages,” Dayan wrote. “These vindictive women can’t find a husband or keep one. They are like stalkers who try to latch on to any man who shows a bit of kindness or attention to them.”

[…]

“[A]s a REAL woman I do not believe for one second any of these ‘women’ that have crawled out from under a rock somewhere to defame you and bring pain to you and your family,” Cheryl Vaglienti remarked. “They are pitiful creatures at the very least, and evil at the most. Isn’t it convenient that they have suddenly become offended by supposed advances by you now after all these years, my goodness, poor babies, how have they been able to bare up under the pain for all these oh so many years… LIARS, LIARS, LIARS…GO GET THEM HERMAN AND PLEASE DO NOT QUIT!!!!”

You can read some more comments “chosen” or should I say, “allowed” by Cain’s campaign. I don’t know, but my guess is Herman is writing his own material…if he isn’t then he must be friends with all these women, and giving them some “financial assistance,” you know…cause he is such a great guy.

In the next link, Herman Cain’s Marriage Shaken by Infidelity Charges – The Daily Beast

A close friend of one Cain’s two children explained that Herman and Gloria Cain’s marriage has seen its share of trouble over the years and his attraction to other women always played a huge role in the friction.

People Goria Cain

In this May 21, 2011 photo, Gloria Cain, left, accompanies her husband Herman Cain as he announces his run for Republican candidate for president in Atlanta. , David Goldman / AP Photo

“It never felt like a real marriage when I was around them,’’ says the friend. “Mostly he was always gone and his wife seemed to be OK with it. Not being together seemed the norm for their marriage, and Gloria didn’t seem to mind. His kids didn’t seem to mind either. ’’

The friend noted that when Cain was around, he seemed completely in his own world.

“He was king of his castle and no one questioned him,’’ says the friend. “It was an uncomfortable set-up for an outsider like me to be around. He was so indifferent to everyone. But I liked Gloria. She was warm and kind.”

Several people who know the Cain family say Gloria and Herman have even lived in separate residences over the years. “They stayed together for good face. They’re old school where you stay just because. Herman likes to give the appearance of living this holier-than-thou life. But it’s anything but,” says someone close to the family.

Well, there is a bright note to all this…it seems they have lived separate lives…for a long, long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cain backs out of the race, and Gloria finally files for divorce.

Hey, BTW, did you see the 1986 Human Resources video from Godfather’s Pizza? Herman Cain’s 1986 Sexual Harassment Training

In this 1986 sexual harassment training video for Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain explains the dos and don’ts of sex in the workplace.

Ha Ha Ha…got ya didn’t I?

More after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Mitt Romney: The Rational Republican Candidate?

Robert Bork

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been painted by many as the more “rational” Republican candidate for President, as compared to religious fanatics like Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum, and outright crazy men like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. But is Mitt really all that rational and reasonable? Not judging by his choice Robert Bork as co-chair of his “Legal Advisory Committee.”

In an interview with Lloyd Grove of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Bork said that he thinks women are no longer discriminated against.

How about the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment? Does he still think it shouldn’t apply to women?

“Yeah,” he answers. “I think I feel justified by the fact ever since then, the Equal Protection Clause kept expanding in ways that cannot be justified historically, grammatically, or any other way. Women are a majority of the population now—a majority in university classrooms and a majority in all kinds of contexts. It seems to me silly to say, ‘Gee, they’re discriminated against and we need to do something about it.’ They aren’t discriminated against anymore.

Does Romney agree with that? Here are a couple more examples of Bork’s legal opinions:

I ask Bork if he still disagrees with the high court’s Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that married couples have a constitutional right to the use of contraception?

“Oh, my God, yes!”

And does he still believe that the First Amendment should be limited to political speech and not protect, as he once wrote, “any other form of expression, be it scientific, literary or…pornographic”?

“Oh yes!” he answers enthusiastically. “If you look at what they say, the First Amendment supposedly defines things like child pornography. The Supreme Court said there was a right to it. That’s actually insane.”

In the interview Bork tried to walk back his opinion of the Civil Rights Act:

Bork criticized the legislation on the ground that government coercion of “righteous” behavior is “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”

Now he claims that we’ve already made “the transition to a non-discriminatory society,” and he’s happy with how it all turned out.

Back in 1987, Ronald Reagan nominated Bork for the Supreme Court. Fortunately, the nomination failed, and Bork is still angry about it. Grove asked him if he had forgiven Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden kneecapping his nomination:

Even before the confirmation hearings, Ted Kennedy went on the Senate floor to describe “Robert Bork’s America” as “a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government,” and so on and so forth.

I ask Bork if he ever forgave the late Kennedy.

“I’m trying to think of how I could conceivably do that,” says Bork, a convert to Catholicism. “We’re supposed to forgive all kinds of behavior. I shouldn’t deny that I’ve forgiven somebody, or I’ll end up being assigned to the outer circles of Hell. But Ted Kennedy is a test case of the limits of forgiveness.

How about Joe Biden, who chaired his Senate hearing?

“Oh, poor Biden,” Bork says with mock sympathy. “Biden, I think, is not a very thoughtful or intelligent man.”

I think we really need some straight answers from Romney. Does he agree with Bork’s interpretations of the Constitution? If not, why did he drag this crazy man out of his well-deserved obscurity and appoint him as a top legal adviser?


“Krugman’s Army” Open Thread

Photo from #OccupyWallStreet sent to Paul Krugman by a reader

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg was all over #Occupy Wall Street, claiming the protesters were trying to destroy the jobs of Wall Street Bankers and other denizens of Wall Street, and threatening that somehow the protests would cause NYC to be unable to pay municipal workers.

I guess one of his advisers must have told him it might not be a good idea to deny that people have a right to assemble in public and air their grievances, according to the U.S. Constitution, because now Bloomberg is singing another tune.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that he’ll allow the Wall Street protesters to stay indefinitely, provided they abide by the law, marking his strongest statement to date on the city’s willingness to let demonstrators occupy a park in Lower Manhattan.

“The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to,” said Bloomberg as he prepared to march in the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. “If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws.”

Bloomberg said he has “no idea” how much longer the Wall Street demonstration will last. “I think part of it has probably to do with the weather,” he said.

I think someone needs to send the Mayor a copy of the Constitution with the first amendment highlighted. He still thinks he gets to decide if American citizens can gather and protest on public property.

I wonder what Bloomberg will say about what the protesters plan to do next? From the New York Daily News:

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning to get in the face of some of New York’s richest tycoons on Tuesday.

A “Millionaires March” will visit the homes – or, more realistically, the gleaming marble lobbies – of five of the city’s wealthiest residents.

On the target list: NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, conservative billionaire David Koch, financier Howard Milstein and hedge fund mogul John Paulson.

Between 400 and 800 marchers plan to go to their homes to present them with oversize checks to dramatize how much less they will pay when New York State’s 2% tax on millionaires expires at the end of the year.

This is starting to get interesting. I admit I find the call and response routine of the protesters kind of annoying, but that’s OK. We annoyed a lot of old folks when we protested the Vietnam War too. Annoying old folks is one of the responsibilities of the young.

Meanwhile, in Boston, police are warning the protesters to go home or else:

Boston police were warning the more than 1,000 Occupy Boston protesters tonight that if they do not leave the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Dewey Square areas that authorities would move them out.

Police were visible around the areas in small batches tonight, while protest organizers held a meeting on the Greenway, answering questions from the demonstrators.

Occupy Boston, in a statement last night, answered the police warning by issuing a call “for any and all people to join the occupation as soon as possible.”

“From the beginning, occupiers have worked tirelessly to maintain a positive working relationship with city officials. Today’s threats by the Boston Police Department represent a sudden shift away from that dialogue,” the statement said.

The mayor’s office, however, has said the city will make no effort to clear the original Dewey Square tent city tonight, but police have said that if protesters do not leave the Greenway, the authorities would clear both the Greenway and Dewey Square.

Hmmmm…sounds like Mayor Menino is out of sync with the cops. Very interesting. Minx says the Atlanta police are itching to crack some heads too. The cops just never understand that when they attack protesters they only draw more attention to them and their grievances.


The First Amendment is Well and Truly Dead.

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

NYC Policeman reaches over barricade and pulls hair of female protester

From the New York Daily News: Wall Street protesters cuffed, pepper-sprayed during ‘inequality’ march

Hundreds of people carrying banners and chanting “shame, shame” walked between Zuccotti Park, near Wall St., and Union Square calling for changes to a financial system they say unjustly benefits the rich and harms the poor.

Somewhere between 80 and 100 protesters were arrested, and according the Occupy Wall Street website, some of them were held in a police van for more than an hour, including a man with a severe concussion. Back to the Daily News article:

Witnesses said they saw three stunned women collapse on the ground screaming after they were sprayed in the face.

A video posted on YouTube and NYDailyNews.com shows uniformed officers had corralled the women using orange nets when two supervisors made a beeline for the women, and at least one suddenly sprayed the women before turning and quickly walking away.

Footage of other police altercations also circulated online, but it was unclear what caused the dramatic mood shift in an otherwise peaceful demonstration.

“I saw a girl get slammed on the ground. I turned around and started screaming,” said Chelsea Elliott, 25, from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who said she was sprayed. “I turned around and a cop was coming … we were on the sidewalk and we weren’t doing anything illegal.”

It’s over folks. We live in a police state. The right of the people to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no longer recognized by the powers that be. In the age of the Patriot Act, peaceful protest is no longer permitted. The government requires that groups have a permit before they can gather on the sidewalks of New York. Oh, and BTW, a number of people were arrested yesterday because they filmed incidents of police brutality.

Via Yves at Naked Capitalism, Amped Status reports that Twitter is now following the example of the corporate media in ignoring or blocking information about peaceful protests in the U.S.

On at least two occasions, Saturday September 17th and again on Thursday night, Twitter blocked #OccupyWallStreet from being featured as a top trending topic on their homepage. On both occasions, #OccupyWallStreet tweets were coming in more frequently than other top trending topics that they were featuring on their homepage.

This is blatant political censorship on the part of a company that has recently received a $400 million investment from JP Morgan Chase.

We demand a statement from Twitter on this act of politically motivated censorship.

It’s all very exciting when Egyptians or Libyans protest their governments, but when it happens here, well, the media pretends its not happening. So much for the First Amendment.

In an op-ed at The New York Times yesterday, Michael Kazin asks: Whatever Happened to the American Left?

America’s economic miseries continue, with unemployment still high and home sales stagnant or dropping. The gap between the wealthiest Americans and their fellow citizens is wider than it has been since the 1920s.

And yet, except for the demonstrations and energetic recall campaigns that roiled Wisconsin this year, unionists and other stern critics of corporate power and government cutbacks have failed to organize a serious movement against the people and policies that bungled the United States into recession.

Instead, the Tea Party rebellion — led by veteran conservative activists and bankrolled by billionaires — has compelled politicians from both parties to slash federal spending and defeat proposals to tax the rich and hold financiers accountable for their misdeeds. Partly as a consequence, Barack Obama’s tenure is starting to look less like the second coming of F.D.R. and more like a re-run of Jimmy Carter — although last week the president did sound a bit Rooseveltian when he proposed that millionaires should “pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare.”

I’m sure Kazin is a good guy–after all he is a co-editor of Dissent Magazine and wrote a book on the changes the American Left has accomplished. His op-ed is a fine historical article, but still, he does mention Wisconsin. It might have been nice if he had noticed that some young people are attempting to organize a peaceful protest on Wall Street and are being victimized by brutal NYC police for their efforts. Perhaps Kazin didn’t know about the NYC protests because of the media blackout.

At the Guardian UK, David Graeber had some kind words for the Wall Street protesters.

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

I salute the young men and women from Occupy Wall Street who are fighting back as best they can against corporate-fascist law enforcement and the corporate-controlled media. I really hope it’s not too late for these young people to make a difference.


Late Night: New Zealand Bans Weird Baby Names

This story from the Global Post really tickled my funny bone: New Zealand Bans Weird Baby Names.

The country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages has been cracking down on parents who get too creative when naming their kids, Australia’s Herald Sun reports.

The list of weird names for kids that are banned by New Zealand’s names registrar has grown to include Lucifer, Duke, Messiah and 89.

Also not approved: Bishop, Baron, General, Judge, King, Knight and Mr., names that were all said to be too similar to titles.

The letters, C, D, I and T were also rejected as first names, the Herald Sun says.

As well, the agency has refused to allow names involving asterisks, commas, periods and other punctuation marks.

Apparently New Zealand’s government isn’t burdened with a First Amendment. According to the article, Sweden also has laws prohibiting parents from using certain names.

While Lego and Google have been approved as names for children, Superman, Metallica and Elvis, and the name Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, pronounced Albin, were not approved.

Too much. When I was in college years ago, I worked in the data processing department–those were the days of keypunch machines and computers that filled a good sized room. Anyway, I would see the strangest names when I was working there. There was a girl at the school named “Dimple Smith.” The funniest names were the rhyming ones–like Harry Carey. There was a girl in my high school named Tamara Paxon (Tam for short).

What’s the weirdest name you’ve ever come across?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! There’s quite a lot of news happening, so I probably won’t be able to cover everything. I’m hoping you can help me out in the comments. Anyway, here are some stories that caught my eye.

The Guardian UK: 2 US airmen killed in Frankfurt airport shooting

Two U.S. airmen were killed and two others were wounded at Frankfurt airport when a man opened fire on them at close range with a handgun, the first such attack on American forces in Germany in a quarter century.

[….]

The alleged assailant, identified as a 21-year-old Kosovo man, was taken immediately into custody and was being questioned by authorities, said Frankfurt police spokesman Manfred Fuellhardt.

Family members in Kosovo described the suspect as a devout Muslim, who was born and raised in Germany and worked at the airport.

The attacker got into an argument with airmen outside their military bus before opening fire, killing the bus driver and one other serviceman, and wounding two others, one of whom was in life-threatening condition, Fuellhardt said. He said the attacker also briefly entered the bus.

The suspect has been identified as “Arif Uka, a Kosovo citizen from the northern town of Mitrovica.” There is quite a bit more information about him at the Guardian link. The victims had not yet been identified when I wrote this.

I’m sure you heard that yesterday the Supreme Court decided that the Wesboro Baptist Church is within their First Amendment Rights when they protest homosexuality at servicemen’s funerals. However, there are some limits on the decision, according to USA Today.

The court majority made plain that states may regulate funeral protests in some situations. Roberts observed that since the 2006 Snyder funeral, the Maryland Legislature has enacted a law prohibiting picketing within 100 feet of a funeral. Roberts also noted that Westboro’s picketing would have complied with that restriction.

The chief justice said demonstrations may be regulated as long as laws are neutral — that is, not aimed at any particular views — and narrowly crafted.

In recent years, Congress and 46 states have enacted laws to minimize picketing near cemeteries during a funeral, according to a brief filed at the court by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and 40 other senators who sided with Snyder. They said state personal-injury laws, such as the Maryland one Snyder invoked to sue Phelps, supplement government picketing restrictions.

From the news reports, it sounds like the protests in Libya are starting to turn into a full-fledged war. Late last night Voice of America reported serious “clashes” in eastern Libya:

The fighting included ground clashes and airstrikes by Libyan military planes.

Witnesses said pro-Gadhafi forces stormed into the town of Brega on the Gulf of Sirte and briefly seized its oil installations and an airstrip. Opposition fighters say they recaptured both sites. Later, Western media reported loud booms that they linked to at least two bombings from Libyan aircraft.

Witnesses say military forces carried out an airstrike in the nearby town of Ajdabiya. Both towns are on the western edge of the region of eastern Libya that is now largely under opposition control.

Gadhafi is still delusional:

The fighting occurred on the same day that Gadhafi delivered a televised speech to supporters in Tripoli. He said he could not resign because he holds no political office in a system that he said puts all power in the hands of the people.

There is a lot of pressure on President Obama to do something other than mumble meaningless cliches. At CNN, they seem to be rooting for military intervention (h/t Minkoff Minx). I’m sure CNN has visions of improving their ratings by presenting lots of carnage live and in color, like they did during the two Iraq wars. But Secretary of Defense Gates is doing his best to stifle such talk.

With rebels in Libya calling for Western airstrikes on forces supporting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates warned Congress on Wednesday that even a more modest effort to establish a no-flight zone over Libya would have to begin with an attack on the country’s air defenses and would require “a big operation in a big country.”

Mr. Gates’s caution illustrates the chasm between what the rebels and some leading members of Congress are calling for and what President Obama appears willing to do in Libya. Mr. Obama and his aides have argued that it is not yet clear that the insurgents need the help — and they have warned that the use of American airpower could fuel the arguments of those in the Middle East who see a Washington conspiracy behind homegrown uprisings.

But others disagree.

…even some members of the president’s own party sounded unconvinced on Wednesday. Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and one of the president’s chief foreign policy allies in Congress, argued that “a no-fly zone is not a long-term proposition” and warned that other nations and NATO should not be “on the sidelines” as Colonel Qaddafi’s jets begin to attack the antigovernment insurgents.

“We ought to be considering a wide range of responses, and a no-fly zone ought to be an option,” Mr. Kerry said late Wednesday. “We have a number of tools, and we should not remove any of them from the table.”

Of course no one is screaming about the deficit now or about how much all this military action would cost–that only happens when there is talk of helping pregnant women, children, the elderly, and other powerless groups.

Here’s an article by a law professor that explains the legal implications of the U.S. getting involved in military action in Libya.

It’s possible the situation in Wisconsin could continue for months with ongoing protests and the Democratic State Senators remaining in exile. This is what happens when you elect a governor who doesn’t believe in compromise and simply wants to behave like a tyrant.

The governor isn’t budging. AWOL Democrats aren’t planning to come back. And, despite talk of deadlines and threats of mass layoffs, the state doesn’t really have to pass a budget to pay its bills until at least May. Even then, there may be other options that could extend the standoff for months.

“This is a battle to the death,” said Mordecai Lee, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Unless one party can come up with a compromise that the other party will buy, which I doubt, this really could go on indefinitely. I could see this going on until the summer.”

We have a union contract dispute going on here in the Boston area with a lot of parallels to the one in Wisconsin. The local PBS/NPR station, WGBH, which produces much of the best content for public TV stations around the country, is playing hardball with their unionized employees, who have been working without a contract since October.

Managers of the giant Boston-based public broadcast operation and officials of the Association of Employees of the Educational Foundation, Communications Workers of America, Local 1300, have been seeking a new three-year contract to replace an agreement that expired at the end of October.

WGBH employs 850 people; Local 1300 represents 280 writers, editors, production workers, and marketing employees who enjoy using automated out reach software like Apollo.

Management has been seeking concessions that include cutting in half the company’s match for employee retirement plans and is demanding authority to redefine job descriptions. That would allow WGBH to assign employees to work across various media platforms, including TV, radio, and the Web.

Union officials said they are willing to make some concessions to preserve jobs and WGBH’s financial health, including cuts in company contributions to retirement plans. But they are not willing to go along with such provisions as allowing WGBH to outsource work without negotiations, or to terminate on-air talent without cause. Union officials said they do not want WGBH to be able to assign members to perform work outside their job description.

“If they retain the ability to outsource anything and everything, it would tend to make moot all the gains we made in other areas of the contract,’’ said Jordan Weinstein, president of the AEEF/CWA, Local 1300, and local host of public radio’s “All Things Considered,’’ the weekday news program. “This is not the warm and friendly way to deal with your employees.’’

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about today?

 


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

The media is all worked up about how badly NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the blizzard that hit the Northeast early this week. Can we please put aside all the talk about this man running for President? He’s really not that bright, judging by his stupidity in the face of a little winter weather. Bloomberg didn’t even have the brains to declare an emergency parking ban so plows could clear the streets! In Boston, parking bans are routinely declared in advance of a big storm.

From the NYT: Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down

At 3:58 a.m. on Christmas Day, the National Weather Service upgraded its alert about the snow headed to New York City, issuing a winter storm watch. By 3:55 p.m., it had declared a formal blizzard warning, a rare degree of alarm. But city officials opted not to declare a snow emergency — a significant mobilization that would have, among other things, aided initial snow plowing efforts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority entered the holiday weekend with modest concerns about the weather. On Friday, it issued its lowest-level warning to subway and bus workers. Indeed, it was not until late Sunday morning, hours after snow had begun to fall, that the agency went to a full alert, rushing to call in additional crew members and emergency workers. Over the next 48 hours, subways lost power on frozen tracks and hundreds of buses wound up stuck in snow-filled streets.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, several inches of snow had accumulated when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made a plea for help at his first news conference about the escalating storm: he asked people with heavy equipment and other kinds of towing machinery to call the city’s 311 line to register for work. A full day had gone by since the blizzard warning had been issued.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bloomberg called for help from private contractors DURING the blizzard! What a dope. You’d think New York had never experienced a snowstorm before.

Speaking of stupid, did you catch Floyd Abrams’ op-ed at the WSJ yesterday? Abrams presents his lame arguments against Wikileaks by discussing how the Wikileaks revelations differ from the Pentagon Papers.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.

Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”

Um…duh. But so what? Is he claiming that the diplomatic cables that major newspapers are publishing are analogous to peace negotiations? Doesn’t Abrams understand that Wikileaks released the cables to these newspapers so that they could make educated journalistic judgments about which parts should be made public and which should be redacted or kept secret?

Furthermore, the analogy that Daniel Ellsberg has made is not between Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers but between himself and Bradley Manning. They were both whistleblowers who revealed government lies and corruption. As for the diplomatic cables, there is no evidence that Manning gave those to Wikileaks.

Abrams even tries to blame Manning and Assange for the overkill reactions of the Obama administration:

Mr. Assange is no boon to American journalists. His activities have already doomed proposed federal shield-law legislation protecting journalists’ use of confidential sources in the just-adjourned Congress. An indictment of him could be followed by the judicial articulation of far more speech-limiting legal principles than currently exist with respect to even the most responsible reporting about both diplomacy and defense. If he is not charged or is acquitted of whatever charges may be made, that may well lead to the adoption of new and dangerously restrictive legislation. In more than one way, Mr. Assange may yet have much to answer for.

What a load of garbage. Abrams once fought in defense of the first amendment. Now he’s just another enabler of government corruption and lies. I guess he spent too much time hanging out with Judith Miller, because he seems to have adopted her views on journalism. We have every right to know what our corporate-sellout politicians are doing.

Here’s what Emptywheel had to say about Abrams’ piece:

Abrams’ purported rhetorical questions–can anyone doubt that WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers? can anyone doubt he wouldn’t have paid the slightest heed to efforts to end the war?–are one of two things that dismantle his entire argument laying the responsibility for the government’s overreaction to Assange with Assange. Because–as Digby has explained at length–we have every reason to doubt whether WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers. And we have solid evidence that WikiLeaks would shield really dangerous information.

Because they already have. And because they have now outsourced responsibility for choosing what is dangerous and newsworthy or not to a bunch of newspapers.

Indeed, back before WikiLeaks ceded that role to a bunch of newspapers, WikiLeaks was actually being more cautious with the publication of sensitive information than the NYT was.

So rather than blaming the government and the press for mischaracterizing what WikiLeaks has done here and then using that mischaracterization to justify an overreaction to that mischaracterization, Floyd Abrams just participates in it. WikiLeaks is responsible, Floyd Abrams says, and I’m going to misrepresent what they have done to prove that case.

Abrams either was never a liberal or he lost his liberalism along the way to his current rich and powerful status. He sounds more like a neocon to me.

At Slate, Jack Schaeffer is even more down on Abrams than I am.

Did an imposter steal Floyd Abrams’ identity and use it to sell an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal? That’s the only explanation I can come up with after reading the First Amendment litigator’s wacky battering of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange (“Why WikiLeaks Is Unlike the Pentagon Papers”).

Abrams, who represented the New York Times in both the Pentagon Papers and Judith Miller cases, applauds Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg because he withheld four volumes of papers—while releasing 43—because he “didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.” That is, Ellsberg didn’t want to interfere with ongoing and confidential negotiations to end the war. Continuing his “Ellsberg good,” “Assange bad” formulation, Abrams asks, “Can anyone doubt that [Assange] would have made those four volumes [of the Pentagon Papers] public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity?”

Well, yes, I can doubt that.

Perhaps because Abrams listens to too much NPR or doesn’t read the New York Times very closely, he’s under the misconception that WikiLeaks has published all 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables it claims to possess. It hasn’t, as NPR noted in a correction yesterday. WikiLeaks has released just 1,942 cables, which makes Assange’s ratio of released-documents to withheld-documents much, much smaller than Ellsberg’s. By that measure, Abrams should regard Assange as a more conscientious leaker than Ellsberg, not less conscientious.

‘Nuff said.

In his latest post at Truthdig, Chris Hedges’ argues that both Orwell and Huxley were right when they wrote their dystopian novels about the future. Now that we’re here, we’ve got the worst of both their worlds.

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

Hedges is right, IMHO.

As an antidote to the dystopian nightmares Hedges discusses, you might want to check out some idealistic utopian dreams. Alternet has an excerpt of a new book by Richard Fairfield, The Modern Utopian: Alternative Communes of the ’60s and ’70s (Process Media, 2010). It’s pretty interesting. Check it out if you have time.

Returning to grim reality, the WaPo has an article on high unemployment among returning war veterans.

As they return home to the worst labor market in generations, the veterans who are publicly venerated for their patriotism and service are also having a harder time than most finding work, federal data show.

While their nonmilitary contemporaries were launching careers during the nearly 10 years the nation has been at war, troops were repeatedly deployed to desolate war zones. And on their return to civilian life, these veterans are forced to find their way in a bleak economy where the skills they learned at war have little value.

Some experts say the grim employment landscape confronting veterans challenges the veracity of one of the central recruiting promises of the nation’s all-volunteer force: that serving in the military will make them more marketable in civilian life.

“That [promise] works great in peacetime,” said Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower under President Ronald Reagan who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “But that does not work too well in war. . . . If you are in there four years and deployed twice, what kind of skills have you learned other than counterinsurgency?”

Finally, Elizabeth Warren has piece up at Huffpo: New Consumer Agency Is Frightfully Necessary — And Late

No one has missed the headlines: Haphazard and possibly illegal practices at mortgage-servicing companies have called into question home foreclosures across the nation.

The latest disclosures are deeply troubling, but they should not come as a big surprise. For years, both individual homeowners and consumer advocates sounded alarms that foreclosure processes were riddled with problems.

[….]

First, several financial services companies have already admitted that they used “robo-signers,” false declarations, and other workarounds to cut corners, creating a legal nightmare that will waste time and money that could have been better spent to help this economy recover. Mortgage lenders will spend millions of dollars retracing their steps, often with the same result that families who cannot pay will lose their homes.

Second, this mess might well have been avoided if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had been in place just a few years ago.

Thanks for being one of the few people advocating for us, Ms. Warren.

Sooooooo…. What are you reading this morning?