Thursday Reads: Molly Ivins, Governor Goodhair, Corporate Crime, and Heroes

Good Morning!! I’m going to be leaving for a two-day drive to Indiana either today or tomorrow, so I’m a bit meshugge this morning. Please be patient with me. Let’s see what’s in the news.

From what I can see, it’s mostly Rick Perry. And I must say, I find “Governor Goodhair” endlessly fascinating. He’s more of a gaffe-machine than Joe Biden–and that’s really saying something. Molly Ivins gave Perry that nickname. I miss her so much. So I was thrilled when I cam across this article in the Sacramento Bee:
Molly can’t say that about Rick Perry, can she? It’s a collection of quotes on Perry from Ivins. Here’s one:

June 24, 2001

First, we Texans would like to salute the only governor we’ve got, Rick “Goodhair” Perry, the Ken Doll, for vetoing the bill to outlaw executing the mentally retarded.

We are Texas Proud.

Such a brilliant decision – not only is Texas now globally recognized for barbaric cruelty, but a strong majority of Texans themselves (73 percent) would prefer not to off the retarded.

Gov. Goodhair’s decision – in the face of popular opinion, the Supreme Court and George W. Bush’s recent conversion on this subject – is a testament to his strength of character.

Or something.

His Perryness announced, anent the veto, that Texas does not execute the retarded. I beg your pardon, Governor. Johnny Paul Penry, now on Death Row for a heart-breaking murder and the subject of two Supreme Court decisions, has an IQ between 51 and 60, believes in Santa Claus and likes coloring books.

We will never have another political writer like Molly.

Yesterday Perry “challenged” Obama on border security.

Perry, who was on his second trip to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, criticized President Obama for his assertion during a speech in El Paso, Tex. in May that his administration had “strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.”

“Six weeks ago the President went to El Paso and said the border is safer than it’s ever been,” Perry said. “I have no idea, maybe he was talking about the Canadian border.”

Perry thinks we should use Predator Drones to deal with illegal immigration.

“I mean, we know that there are Predator drones being flown for practice every day because we’re seeing them, we’re preparing these young people to fly missions in these war zones that we have. But some of those, they have all the equipment, they’re obviously unarmed, they’ve got the downward-looking radar, they’ve got the ability to do night work and through clouds. Why not be flying those missions and using (that) real-time information to help our law-enforcement? Becuase if we will commit to that, I will suggest to you that we will be able to drive the drug cartels away from our border.”

Apparently the Governor of Texas did not know that the Department of Homeland Security has already been using Drones to patrol the Mexican border for years.

I’m not that up on Texas politics, but I’m beginning to get the idea that the Bush crowd doesn’t care much for Rick Perry. According to Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic, Bush’s Crew Is Gunning for Rick Perry

Is Rick Perry “another George W. Bush”? In reality, Bush was more of a fake Perry, the Texas version of a studio gangster, clearing brush in his cowboy boots despite his prep school background. It helps explain why Bush’s allies and Perry’s allies don’t like each other very much: the Bush-loving Republican establishment sees Perry as “the low-rent country cousin,” the Los Angeles Times reports. And it explains why Karl Rove (who once worked for Perry, before helping Bush become president) went on Fox News to criticize Perry for calling the Federal Reserve treasonous — and to wish for more candidates to enter the 2012 race.

You’ll need to go to the link to read all about the Bush-Perry feud. In addition, Howard Dean told The Hill that the “Bush camp will take Perry out.”

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean predicted that prominent political supporters of former President George W. Bush will deal a critical blow to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) presidential campaign.

“The Bush people don’t fool around, as you know,” Dean said Tuesday night on MSNBC. “You can say a lot of things about Bush’s presidency and his failures as president, but one thing nobody should say [anything] bad about [is] his political team. They know what they’re doing, and they are ruthless, and they are going to take Perry out.”

Here’s Bill Clinton’s opinion on Rick Perry’s presidential ambitions:

—————————————————-

Do you have a Citi credit card? Better watch out

TANGERANG, Indonesia — Irzen Octa, a down-on-his-luck Indonesian businessman, suffered a torment familiar to millions of Americans struggling with debts racked up in better times: He feared losing his home.

In the end, he managed to keep the ramshackle two-story house where he and his wife raised their two now-teenage daughters. Instead, Octa, pursued by Citibank over a $5,700 debt on his platinum credit card, lost his life.

The 50-year-old businessman, invited to a Citibank office in Jakarta in late March, collapsed in a tiny room set aside by the U.S. bank for questioning of deadbeat debtors. He died shortly afterward — a casualty of a “harsh interrogation,” said Jakarta police spokesman Baharudin Djafar.

Whoa!

Noting that Indonesian debt collectors have a reputation for sometimes aggressive persistence, Johansyah, the central bank official, said: “The best thing to do is just pay.”

Octa’s widow said she first discovered that her husband had money problems when five men showed up uninvited at their Tangerang home one night in October and said they had come to get money. Unable to collect, they slept on a terrace outside the front door.

In the following months, debt collectors kept calling — and Octa’s debts kept rising because of hefty interest.

Sounds like a Mafia movie! Will that start happening here after the Republicans remove all regulations?

Matt Taibbi has a new article at Rolling Stone: Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – “Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?” No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.

That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – “18,000 … including Madoff,” as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.

Under a deal the SEC worked out with the National Archives and Records Administration, all of the agency’s records – “including case files relating to preliminary investigations” – are supposed to be maintained for at least 25 years. But the SEC, using history-altering practices that for once actually deserve the overused and usually hysterical term “Orwellian,” devised an elaborate and possibly illegal system under which staffers were directed to dispose of the documents from any preliminary inquiry that did not receive approval from senior staff to become a full-blown, formal investigation. Amazingly, the wholesale destruction of the cases – known as MUIs, or “Matters Under Inquiry” – was not something done on the sly, in secret. The enforcement division of the SEC even spelled out the procedure in writing, on the commission’s internal website. “After you have closed a MUI that has not become an investigation,” the site advised staffers, “you should dispose of any documents obtained in connection with the MUI.”

I haven’t finished the article yet, but it sounds like an important story.

I’m going to end with a couple of feel-good stories.

Father of 2 becomes hero in abducted girl’s rescue

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The timing was just right for saving the life of a 6-year-old girl and for turning a 24-year-old mechanic and father of two young daughters into a hero.

It was coincidence that Antonio Diaz Chacon had come home from work early to spend time with his family Monday afternoon. It was also a coincidence that the family’s washing machine had just gone out, forcing them to do laundry a block down the road at a relative’s home.

Had it not been for that, Diaz Chacon wouldn’t have been there to see the girl thrown into a van as another neighbor yelled for the would-be kidnapper to let the child go.

Diaz Chacon is credited with saving the girl after chasing the van through a maze of neighborhoods to the edge of where Albuquerque’s sprawling housing developments meet the desert. It was there where the van crashed into a pole, the suspect fled and Diaz Chacon was able to rescue the girl and take her home.

Go read the whole thing. It’s good to know there are still brave and generous people out there who act selflessly just because someone needs help. And here’s another story about a heroic rescue–by an 8-year-old boy.

Just 8 years old and a novice swimmer, Jesus [Lara] reacted quickly last weekend to save a drowning infant from the bottom of a pool. On Thursday morning, the Plano Fire Department recognized his life-saving actions and explained how grateful they were for his quick reaction.

[….]

Jesus has only been swimming for two months. His father Henry began teaching him to swim in the pool at the Estancia Apartments where they live. Henry said after a long day of work Friday, Aug. 5, he kept his promise to take his son to the pool that night.

While Jesus was swimming, he noticed some bubbles coming from an object under the water.

Jesus Lara being honored by fire department

The bubbles were coming from a 21-month-old toddler who had stumbled into the water.

“I grabbed a quick breath, and I dove under,” he said.

Jesus resurfaced holding a 21-month-old boy and arms outstretched, he yelled for his father to help.

“It was what he said that spoke volumes to me,” Henry said, remembering the boy’s words, “I found him at the bottom of the pool.”

Jesus’ father knew CPR and was able to resuscitate the child, who is now “doing fine.”

Those are my recommended reads for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Tuesday Reads: Heroes and Villains

Good Morning!!

Well, the President gave another speech last night, and it frankly put me in mind of the movie Groundhog Day. I think Obama’s handlers should be told to keep him under wraps until such time as he actually has something to say. I’ve had it with this whole debt ceiling mess, and I’m not going to say anymore about it in this post.

Instead, here’s an inspiring story that Dakinikat called my attention to: German tourist rescued teens during Norwegian island massacre.

A German tourist is being hailed as a hero for rescuing at least 20 people from a gunman’s rampage on Utoya island in Norway, according to media reports.

Marcel Gleffe, 32, was with his family Friday at a campground across the water from the island when he heard gunshots, Der Spiegel reported. He and his family looked out from the shore, thinking it might be fireworks, but instead they saw a plume of smoke and a girl swimming frantically in the water and screaming.

Gleffe got into the boat he had rented and set off, Der Spiegel said. He was the first person to reach the island where Anders Behring Breivik gunned down dozens of youngsters at a summer camp….

“You don’t get scared in a situation like that, you just do what it takes. I know the difference between fireworks and gunfire. I knew what it was about, and that it wasn’t just nonsense.”

We need a lot more people like Marcel Gleffe in this world. And what do you know? Via The Hinky Meter, here’s another hero: David Kemp of Beaverton, Oregon.

Kemp knew something was wrong when he was jogging on the Seaside promenade Saturday and saw 6-year-old Hailey’s face as she struggled to get away from Knox when having a Fantastic Race on a group of people.

“She was scared to death – terrified,” Kemp said.

He asked Hailey if she knew the woman and she shook her head in horror.

“I knew there was a problem at that point (and) that this is very, very serious. This child is terrified,” he said.

He knew he had to do something, especially when he heard what sounded like a death threat.

“She kept telling Hailey: ‘I am your queen; I am going to take you to see our king, our Lord. I am taking you with me.'”

Kemp broke the woman’s grip on the little girl, and when the kidnapper tried to get away, he chased her down and held her till police arrived. This isn’t the first time Kemp has been a hero.

In 2004 he rescued a woman who was injured by a hit-and-run driver and left lying in the road. Then he found the car which led to an arrest.

He’s also chased down and caught a shoplifter running from a store and another time he caught a robber who just held up a Hallmark shop.

Finally, there’s Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who was instrumental in ending the four-month-long NFL owners’ lockout. At the press conference announcing the agreement yesterday, Kraft apologized to the fans.

“First of all I’d like, on behalf of both sides, to apologize to the fans that for the last five, six months we’ve been talking about the business of football and not what goes on on the field and building the teams in each market, but the end result is we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade and we’ve done that in a way that’s unique among the major sports that every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive, we’ve improved player safety, and we’ve remembered the players who have played in the past.

During the months of the lockout, Kraft was going back and forth between labor talks and his wife Myra’s bedside. She was ending a long battle with cancer, and was buried on Friday.

It’s difficult to imagine how trying – emotionally, physically, mentally – these last few weeks have been for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as his beloved wife, Myra, was dying of cancer and difficult negotiations dragged on between NFL owners and players over the terms of a new collective-bargaining agreement.

[….]

“He is a man who helped us save football,” Jeff Saturday, the center for the Indianapolis Colts and a member of the NFLPA’s executive committee, said Monday after the league’s players joined the owners in approving a new collective-bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done.”

Kraft previously had made it possible for New England to keep its football team when he bought the Patriots in 1994 just as they were about to move to St. Louis. Kraft is proof that people can be wealthy and remain decent human beings.

Randy Vickers, America’s chief of cybersecurity has abruptly resigned without any explanation.

The director of the agency that protects the federal government from cyber attacks has resigned abruptly in the wake of a spate of hacks against government networks.
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) director Randy Vickers resigned his position Friday, effective immediately, according to an e-mail to US-CERT staff sent by Bobbie Stempfley, acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, and obtained by InformationWeek. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson confirmed the email was authentic.

The DHS has not provided a reason for Vickers’ sudden departure and the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to discuss the matter further. Vickers served as director of US-CERT since April 2009; previously, he was deputy director.

Current US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock will serve as interim director until the DHS names a successor for Vickers, according to the email.

Was he forced out? Maybe we’ll learn more about this today.

David Neiwert is an expert on right wing extremist groups–he’s written two books about them–and he had a post up yesterday on Crooks and Liars about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist/mass murderer. It would be hard to choose excerpts from the story–please read the whole thing if you can find time. One important point Neiwert makes is that Breivik is not “crazy,” he’s just a right winger with connections to a group in Norway that is similar to the Tea Party here.

Scott Shane had an excellent article yesterday in the NYT on the connections between Breivik’s sick ideology and a number of American bloggers and media personalities. Of course Dakinikat has been writing about this for the past couple of days also.

The Guardian UK has an in depth article about Breivik, his appearance in court, his threats that “more will die.”

The rightwing extremist who confessed to the mass killings in Norway boasted in court on Monday that there were two more cells from his terror network still at large, prompting an international investigation for collaborators.

After Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty, despite admitting that he had carried out the attacks in Oslo and on Utøya island, officials said it was possible he had not acted alone.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo said Breivik had been calm in court and “seemed unaffected by what has happened”, adding that the suspect had told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.

“We can’t quite rule out that someone else was involved. This is partly based on the information that there are two other cells,” Hatlo said.

The prosecutor said he could not discuss whether Breivik had organised the cells or whether he was working alongside them. Police have said they have no other suspects at present.

It also emerged on Monday that Norway’s police security service had been alerted to a suspicious chemical purchase by Breivik in March, but had decided not to investigate further.

Norwegian officials have lowered the number of deaths from the attacks to 76.

At the Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg, who wrote about about right wing Christian fundamentalism, discusses Breivik’s hatred of women.

Conservatives worried about the Islamization of Europe often blame feminism for weakening Western societies and opening them up to a Muslim demographic invasion. Mark Steyn’s bestselling America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It predicted the demise of “European races too self-absorbed to breed,” leading to the transformation of Europe into Eurabia. “In their bizarre prioritization of ‘a woman’s right to choose,’” he argued, “feminists have helped ensure that European women will end their days in a culture that doesn’t accord women the right to choose anything.”

This neat rhetorical trick—an attack on feminism coupled with purported concern about Muslim fundamentalist misogyny—is repeated again and again in Islamophobic literature. Now it’s reached its apogee in mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.” Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.

It’s a fascinating article with lots of psychological background on Breivik’s misogyny.

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