Posted: June 19, 2012 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, morning reads, SCOTUS, the internet, U.S. Politics | Tags: "g" words, Cynthia Kelly, eurozone crisis, G-20 summit, George H. W. Bush, George Zimmerman, Greece, Harry Truman, hoagies, Mia Farrow, money laundering, out-of-touch patricians, Pennsylvania, Robert Shrum, Rodney King, Ronan Farrow, Shellie Zimmerman, Syria, Thomas E. Dewey, touch screen ordering, Trayvon Martin case, Vladimir Putin, Wawa's, Woody Allen |
On Sunday during his “get to know the regular people” bus tour, Mitt Romney expressed “amazement” at a gas station in Pennsylvania where you could order “hoagies” using a touch-screen.
At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Sunday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told a crowd that he had been astonished by a touch screen computer used to order food at the Wawa gas station chain….
“I was at Wawas,” Romney explained. “I went in to order a sandwich. You press a little touchtone keypad, alright? You just touch that and, you know, the sandwich comes up. You touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier. There’s your sandwich. It’s amazing!”
The ordering system has been there for 10 years. Of course this reminded everyone of the apocryphal story about out-of-touch patrician George H.W. Bush being amazed by a supermarket scanner.
Poor Mitt. In another article on Romney’s bus tour, James Fallows makes fun of the candidate’s habit of expressing surprise by saying “oh my goodness!”
Romney’s trademark small-talk exclamation, “Oh my goodness!” seems completely genuine. But I am trying to think of the last time I heard a 21st-century person use that phrase — as opposed to all the other possibilities, which when you think about it range from coarse to profane. (Jeez louise, WTF, Holy shit, and on through a long list you can fill in yourself.) When combined with his Don-Draper-in-the-’50s very dapper personal style, it adds to a retro atmosphere that some people will find reassuring and appealing and others will find odd.
Well I have to admit that I often say “oh my goodness!” too. Maybe I’m out of touch then–or maybe it’s a Midwestern thing. I got in the habit of saying that when taking care of my nephews. John McWhorter at The New Republic also thinks Romney’s “verbal stylings” are strange. Romney is also guilty of using “g” words like gosh, golly, and gee, which McWhorter says are substitutes for taking the name of “god” in vain.
Gee, gosh, and golly are all tokens of dissimulation. They are used in moments of excitement or dismay as burgherly substitutions, either for God and Jesus—words many religious people believe should not be “taken in vain”—or for words considered even less appropriate. Fittingly, they even emerged as disguised versions of God (gosh and golly) and Jesus (gee; cf. also jeez). This was in line with how cursing worked in earlier English. The medieval and even colonial Anglophones’ versions of profanity were to express dismay or vent pain by swearing—“making an oath”—to God or related figures considered ill-addressed in such a disrespectful way. The proper person at least muted the impact with a coy distortion, à la today’s shoot and fudge. Hence zounds (first attestation: 1600), as in by his (Christ’s) wounds; egad for Ye God (1673); and by Jove (1598). To increasing numbers of modern Americans, the G-words are unusable outside of quotation marks, be these actual or implied, rather like the word perky.
Well, gee, I use that one sometimes too, though not “gosh” or “golly.” So maybe I’m as much of an anachronism as Romney. Of course I’ve been known to swear also. I really think saying the “g” words might be a Midwestern mannerism.
Robert Shrum says Mitt Romney reminds him of Thomas E. Dewey, who was expected to beat Harry Truman in 1948, but didn’t. Check it out. I found it interesting.
It appears that police are suspicious about the drowning death of Rodney King. An autopsy has been done, but the results haven’t been released yet. There was no obvious evidence of foul play, but apparently King was a very avid swimmer. There are also conflicting reports of sounds from King’s backyard right before his body was found. Reuters:
King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelly, a juror in the civil suit he brought against the city of Los Angeles, “didn’t give any indication he was unhappy or that there was an issue.” He said King was known to swim frequently and at all hours.
Shepherd said Kelly told investigators that, shortly before the drowning, she had been inside the house talking with King off and on through a sliding glass door that leads to a patio beside the pool.
At some point, she told them, she heard a splash, prompting her to run outside to find him at the bottom of the deep end. Unable to swim well herself, she called emergency 911 for help.
The Los Angeles Times, in an online account on Monday, cited a next-door neighbor, Sandra Gardea, 31, as saying she heard the sound of a man sobbing from King’s back yard in the two hours before police say he was found in the pool.
The Times also reported that Gardea heard King’s fiancée trying to coax him back into the house.
“It wasn’t like an argument,” she told the newspaper. “She was just saying, ‘Get in the house. Get in the house.'” Gardea said she heard a splash a few minutes later.
The prosecution in the Trayvon Martin case has released calls between George Zimmerman and his wife when he was in jail the first time.
The recordings show that from his jail cell, Zimmerman gave his wife step-by-step instructions on how to change a password and clear security questions so she could move money, gave her orders to withdraw specific amounts and directed her to pay the bills.
Prosecutors allege the couple was moving money out of an Internet PayPal account that was awash with donations for Zimmerman, who’s charged with second-degree murder in one of the most racially-charged criminal cases in the country. He shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in Sanford Feb. 26.
The couple spoke in code, according to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. In the calls Zimmerman makes repeated reference to “Peter Pan,” an apparent reference to PayPal.
And neither Zimmerman or his wife ever refer to more than $100,000, talking instead about amounts generally totaling “10 dollars” and “20 dollars.” Prosecutors say those were references to $10,000 and $20,000.
Shellie was careful to move less than $10,000 at a time, to avoid triggering attention from the feds.
The tapes of six conversations were released Monday, as were bank statements from the Zimmermans’ accounts at a credit union. The statements show repeated transfers to and from the account in amounts just under $10,000. On April 24, for example, there were 8 transfers of $9,999.00 into Shellie Zimmerman’s account. Banks and financial institutions are required to file “suspicious activity reports” in such cases, according to Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who specializes in money laundering.
Structuring the money in such a way is not itself illegal, he says, if the money isn’t from an illicit source. But, he says, it shows “a guilty mind.”
“What they’ve done,’ Blum said, “is they’ve given the prosecutors, on a silver platter, evidence of guilty intent.”
This one should probably be at the top of this post, but gee golly gosh and my goodness! I thought the other stories were more fun to read–so gosh darn it, what the heck!
Obama, Putin meet on Syria at G-20 summit.
Meeting for nearly two hours on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Mexico, the two presidents tried to focus mostly on areas of agreement — even when it came to areas of disagreement, such as Syria.
The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power. Russia, which sells arms to Syria, has blocked United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for tough sanctions and leaving the door open to military intervention.
“We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war and the kind of horrific deaths that we’ve seen over the last several weeks,” Obama said after his first meeting with Putin following his return to the presidency this year. “We pledged to work with other international actors, including the United Nations, Kofi Annan and all interested parties, in trying to find a resolution to this problem.”
Putin was upbeat following the meeting, which went on much longer than planned and covered the full range of issues between the two nations. “From my perspective, we’ve been able to find many commonalities pertaining to all of those issues,” he said.
I’m glad it was Obama negotiating and not Romney. Otherwise, we might be at war with Russia by now.
The New York Times has a piece on what Europe will do now that the Greeks have voted for austerity.
BERLIN — After Greek elections eased fears that the country’s exit from the euro zone was imminent, attention turned Monday to an even bigger challenge: restoring the economic body to health with Greece still in it.
A respite from market pressure early Monday proved to be short-lived, as investors shifted their attention from political infighting in Athens to the larger question of whether European leaders could find a more lasting solution to a debacle now well into its third year.
But even though Brussels had been hoping for the victory by Antonis Samaras and his center-right New Democracy Party, the yearned-for result, paradoxically, may weaken Europe’s determination to take more radical steps to avert a meltdown.
German hard-liners were emboldened by the victory, viewing it as an endorsement of the drive for structural adjustment in Greece and elsewhere in Southern Europe through further austerity. As a result, the vote may delay concerted pro-growth steps by central banks and governments around the world, as well as the hard choices within Europe over deeper integration that are likely to prove necessary in the long run.
Much more at the link.
There’s lots of talk around the ‘net about the upcoming SCOTUS decision on the health care law. Scalia appears to be signaling that it may go down. You can read about what might happen if parts of the bill found unconstitutional here, here, and here.
Ronan Farrow with mother Mia
Woody Allen’s son Ronan (who looks exactly like Mia Farrow) celebrated father’s day by tweeting “Happy father’s day — or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day.” And Mother Mia retweeted it. Ouch!
Woody and Ronan have been estranged for years since his parents split and because Woody was dating (and later married) Soon-Yi Previn, Mia’s adopted daughter, Ronan’s step-sister. He has been quoted in the past as saying, “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression.” [….]
Ronan, named Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow when he was born in 1987, is the sole biological child of Woody and actress Mia Farrow. He is currently serving as special adviser to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues and director of the State Department’s Global Youth Issues office.
Finally, Roger Clemens was found not guilty yesterday, and honestly I’m glad. He probably did use steroids late in his career, but the prosecution couldn’t prove it. Thousands of players did it, and I think it was terrible; but the Justice Department has much more important things to do than making examples out of baseball players (and former presidential candidates for that matter). Clemens will go down in history as one of the greatest pitchers ever. He certainly is one of the best ever to play for the Red Sox.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Posted: December 15, 2011 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, Banksters, Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, George W. Bush, income inequality, indefinite detention, Medicare, morning reads, net-neutrality, Psychopaths in charge, Republican presidential politics, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, We are so F'd, WE TOLD THEM SO | Tags: ACLU, Afghanistan War, AUMF, Carl Levin, CEO salaries, defense authorization bill, Diane Feinstein, Emptywheel, Harry Truman, Human Rights Watch, indefinite detention, Iraq War, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, taxes, terrorism |
So far I haven’t been locked up in Guantanamo or debtors’ prison. I hope the rest of you Sky Dancers still have your freedom too, such as it is.
Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defense Authorization bill, which includes language permitting indefinite detention by the military of “al Qaeda members” without specific charges or trials. You can read the bill here.
Our craven and cowardly President had promised to veto this bill, but today the White House reneged on that promise, and Obama is set to sign it once it passes the Senate tomorrow or Friday.
The White House backed down from its veto threat of the defense authorization bill Wednesday, saying that the bill’s updated language would not constrain the Obama administration’s counterterrorism efforts.
While the White House acknowledged it still has some concerns, press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama’s advisers wouldn’t recommend a veto, a threat that had been hanging over the Pentagon policy bill for the past month.
Obama and his crew don’t care about the fifth amendment, habeas corpus and all that jazz–just that the president is the one who decides who is an “al Qaeda member” and therefore will be whisked away to indefinite detention. Wanna bet there are suddenly going to be a lot of “al Qaeda members” in the Occupy movement? From Anti-War.com:
As revealed in the Senate deliberations last week, the Obama administration itself requested the principal authors of the provision – John McCain and Carl Levin – to include language authorizing due-process-free military custody for American citizens. The initial threat of veto was apparently nothing more than political theater on the part of the White House.
According to The Hill, the following changes satisfied the White House concerns:
The bill deleted the word “requirement” from the section on the military detention of terror suspects, which was among the most contentious parts of the bill.
The national security waiver allowing the executive branch to move terror suspects from military to civilian courts was placed in the president’s hands rather than the Defense secretary’s, a change Levin said Obama had asked for.
The conference bill was based on the Senate language, which was not as harsh as the House bill when it came to trying terror suspects in civilian courts.
The administration called the provision in the bill that establishes the authority for military detentions unnecessary because the executive branch already was given this authority following Sept. 11.
Carney’s statement said if the administration finds parts of the law “negatively impact our counterterrorism professionals and undercut our commitment to the rule of law,” it expects the bill’s authors will correct those problems.
Oh well, then no worries… Except that lots of people who care about the Constitution aren’t so happy about it. Here’s a statement from Laura Murphy of the ACLU:
“The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”
Unfortunately, Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.
Here’s a statement from Human Rights Watch:
“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”
The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.
There are currently 171 detainees at Guantanamo, many of whom have been imprisoned for nearly 10 years. As one of his first acts in office, Obama signed an executive order for the closure of Guantanamo within one year. Instead of moving quickly to close the prison and end the use of the discredited military commissions, he supported modifications to the Military Commissions Act.
“It is a sad moment when a president who has prided himself on his knowledge of and belief in constitutional principles succumbs to the politics of the moment to sign a bill that poses so great a threat to basic constitutional rights,” Roth said.
The bill also requires the US military take custody of certain terrorism suspects even inside the United States, cases that previously have been handled by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. During debate over the bill, several senior administration officials, including the secretary of defense, attorney general, director of national intelligence, director of the FBI, and director of the CIA, all raised objections that this provision interfered with the administration’s ability to effectively fight terrorism. In the last 10 years over 400 people have been prosecuted in US federal courts for terrorism related offenses. Meanwhile during that same period, only six cases have been prosecuted in the military commissions.
“President Obama cannot even justify this serious threat to basic rights on the basis of security,” Roth said. “The law replaces an effective system of civilian-court prosecutions with a system that has generated the kind of global outrage that would delight recruiters of terrorists.”
The bill also reauthorizes the AUMF that Bush used to get us into Iraq. Emptywheel has a lengthy post in which she wonders: Feinstein’s “Fix” on AUMF Language Actually Authorize Killing American Citizens? You probably should read the whole thing, but here’s the summation:
…by affirming all purportedly existing statutory authority, DiFi’s “fix” not only reaffirmed the AUMF covering a war Obama ended today, but also affirmed the Executive Branch’s authority to use deadly force when ostensibly trying to detain people it claimed present a “significant threat of death or serious physical injury.” It affirms language that allows “deadly force” in the name of attempted detention.
In any case, it’s one or the other (or both). Either the AUMF language became acceptable to Obama because it included American citizens in the Afghan AUMF and/or it became acceptable because it affirmed the Executive Branch’s authority to use deadly force in the guise of apprehending someone whom the Executive Branch says represents a “significant threat.”
My guess is the correct answer to this “either/or” question is “both.”
So DiFi’s fix, which had the support of many Senators trying to protect civil liberties, probably made the matter worse.
In its more general capitulation on the veto, the Administration stated that the existing bill protects the Administration’s authority to “incapacitate dangerous terrorists.” “Incapacitate dangerous terrorists,” “use of deadly force” with those who present a “significant threat of death or serious physical injury.” No matter how you describe Presidential authority to kill Americans with no due process, the status quo appears undiminished.
Finally Al Jazeera asks: Is the principle of indefinite detention without trial now an accepted and permanent part of American life? I wonder if Michelle Obama is still proud to be an American today?
There is some other news, of course. For one thing, it seems as if Rep. Ron Wyden of Oregon must have more energy I can imagine having. As of today he managed to get the decisions on rural post office closings postponed until next May; he joined with Rep. Paul Ryan (!) to propose a medicare overhaul; and he and Darrel Isa (!) have proposed an alternative to the entertainment industry bill that would effectively shut down social networking on the internet. Check out those links if you’re interested.
One of my favorite economists, Robert Reich, has an analysis of Newt’s Tax Plan, and Why His Polls Rise the More Outrageous He Becomes.
Newt’s plan increases the federal budget deficit by about $850 billion – in a single year!
Most of this explosion of debt in Newt’s plan occurs because he slashes taxes. But not just anyone’s taxes. The lion’s share of Newt’s tax cuts benefit the very, very rich.
That’s because he lowers their marginal income tax rate to 15 percent – down from the current 35 percent, which was Bush’s temporary tax cut; down from 39 percent under Bill Clinton; down from at least 70 percent in the first three decades after World War II. Newt also gets rid of taxes on unearned income – the kind of income that the super-rich thrive on – capital-gains, dividends, and interest.
Under Newt’s plan, each of the roughly 130,000 taxpayers in the top .1 percent – the richest one-tenth of one percent – reaps an average tax cut of $1.9 million per year. Add what they’d otherwise have to pay if the Bush tax cut expired on schedule, and each of them saves $2.3 million a year.
To put it another way, under Newt’s plan, the total tax bill of the top one-tenth of one percent drops from around 38 percent of their income to around 10 percent.
What about low-income households? They get an average tax cut of $63 per year.
Oh, I almost forgot: Newt also slashes corporate taxes.
Dakinikat clued me in to this post at Naked Capitalism: “Let Them Eat Pink Slips” CEO Pay Shot Up in 2010, which links to this article in the Guardian.
Chief executive pay has roared back after two years of stagnation and decline. America’s top bosses enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40% last year, according to the largest survey of US CEO pay. The dramatic bounceback comes as the latest government figures show wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.
America’s highest paid executive took home more than $145.2m, and as stock prices recovered across the board, the median value of bosses’ profits on stock options rose 70% in 2010, from $950,400 to $1.3m. The news comes against the backdrop of an Occupy Wall Street movement that has focused Washington’s attention on the pay packages of America’s highest paid.
The Guardian’s exclusive first look at the CEO pay survey from corporate governance group GMI Ratings will further fuel debate about America’s widening income gap. The survey, the most extensive in the US, covered 2,647 companies, and offers a comprehensive assessment of all the data now available relating to 2010 pay.
And these oligarchs couldn’t care less if we like it or not. They own the White House and the Congress and we don’t.
I’ll end with a bizarre and very sad story out of Utah:
Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot, football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she’d ever seen.
Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.
By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There’s no count on how many died, although officials estimate it’s upwards of 1,500.
“They’re just everywhere,” said Teresa Griffin, wildlife program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource’s southern region. “It’s been nonstop. All our employees are driving around picking them up, and we’ve got so many people coming to our office and dropping them off.”
Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
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