Sunday Reads Part Two: Condescending and BS Statements… and Ninja Ferns

Another Vintage Italian Travel Poster for you….

Ah, and now for part two of today’s Sunday Reads, get ready for lots of links…

Let’s start with a couple of big news stories, and then work our way through the rest.

 Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing above Scotland which killed 270 people, has died at his home in Libya.

Megrahi, 60, was convicted by a special court in the Netherlands in 2001.

He was freed from Scottish jail in 2009 on compassionate grounds because of cancer, stirring controversy when he outlived doctors’ expectations.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a day to remember the 270 victims of “an appalling terrorist act”.

Mr Cameron, who is in Chicago for a Nato summit, said Megrahi should never have been freed, Reuters news agency reports.

No kidding…Well, at least the victims families can have some sense of closure. Although, I cannot see how his death, free and at home, would give those families a feeling of relief.

Boehner is talking crap again, this time on the TV show “This Week,” U.S. banking laws unable to stop JPMorgan loss: Republican Boehner –

U.S. banking reforms could not have prevented JPMorgan Chase & Co‘s trading losses, and those involved in the activities that went awry should be held accountable, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said in an interview aired on Sunday.

“I don’t believe there’s anything in Dodd-Frank (financial reform law) that would’ve prevented this activity at JPMorgan,” said Boehner, the top Republican U.S. officeholder. He made the comments Friday in an interview for ABC’s “This Week.”

Last week JPMorgan disclosed that it has suffered at least $2 billion in losses due to trades that went bad. The losses from derivatives trading could widen and have placed pressure on the bank to explain what happened as lawmakers and regulators tussle over rules for Dodd-Frank enacted two years ago.

“There’s no law against stupidity. No law against stupid trades,” said Boehner.

“And as long as depositors’ money wasn’t at risk and as long as there’s no risk of a taxpayer bailout, they should be held accountable by the market and their shareholders,” he said.

This hedge may have been considered an exemption according to Dodd-Frank, but with the amounts of the loss increasing daily, I wonder if there is something more sinister going on.

While on the subject of the GOP…this little post from Atlanta Journal Constitution caught my eye. You may remember that my state of Georgia was last in the nation when it came to laws that prevent or punish ethics infractions within the State’s government. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston had some words about ethics reform, and I think it illustrates the kind of partisan problems we are seeing these days. No, Speaker Ralston. Ethics reform is not a partisan issue | Jay Bookman

If you believe House Speaker David Ralston, ethics reform is a liberal cause backed by liberal groups and the liberal media, and conservatives who join the campaign for ethics reform are being played for suckers in an attempt to divide the Republican Party.

“In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide us. There are those who would sow the seeds of dissension and discord in order to advance a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party.

Let me be very clear. Regardless of the course that others may take, as for me and the people’s House of this state, we are going to stand united, working hard, standing Republican shoulder to Republican shoulder, to make Georgia a better state — and not align ourselves with media elites and liberal special interest groups. …”

That statement — uttered by Ralston at the state GOP convention in Columbus Friday — is the biggest load of baloney I have seen from a Georgia politician not named Newt Gingrich. It is also a two-fold insult to the base of his party, suggesting that ethics reform is not a conservative value and that Republican voters and activists who support such reform are being duped.

Democratic candidates and strategists would no doubt be pleased by Ralston’s confession that ethics reform is a liberal cause, and they are no doubt eager to campaign on that idea. The only problem is, it isn’t true.

Liberal Americans and conservative Americans don’t agree about a lot of things. But they do agree about the impropriety of elected public officials taking $17,000 family vacations to Europe on a lobbyist’s dollar, as Ralston has done. They do agree that lobbyists shouldn’t be plying public officials of either party with $250 rounds of golf and $300 dinners and $500-a-night resort hotel rooms. There is no partisan divide among the citizens of Georgia on that question, and Ralston knows it.

The statement is in response to a GOP committee meeting this weekend.

…At the urging of the GOP rank and file, the party’s executive committee has voted unanimously to put an advisory question on the GOP primary ballot this July, asking primary voters whether they support a $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists to legislators.

The people who supported that measure are not liberals and they are not liberal dupes, as Ralston seems to suggest. The same is true of Republican primary voters who will vote overwhelming in favor of that measure come July.

Ralston’s attempt to make this a test of party loyalty is ludicrous. He has clearly decided that preserving the privileges and entitlements that he and his fellow elected officials enjoy is more important than honoring the opinions of his party membership and the people of Georgia.

The divide, in other words, is not between Republican and Democrat or liberal and conservative. The divide is between the people of this state and those who believe that the title of senator or representative is an entitlement to the spoils of power

What Ralston is doing is perfectly in line with the hypocritical behavior of politicians as a whole…

As the AJC’s Jim Galloway reports, a group calling itself the Capitol Coalition of Conservative Government has responded to Ralston’s statement, and they have put their case well:

“We strongly condemn the comments made by Speaker Ralston regarding ethics reform. Strong ethics and accountability are not a matter of right versus left. They are a matter of right versus wrong.

His comments imply that voters and activists should hide our eyes from the realities of ethics violations and the need for reform, and stand by everyone no matter what they do, simply because they have an “R” behind their name.

Rather than open his heart to the cries from citizens that we have the right to call for accountability, his comments reflect those of someone who seeks to divide our party by falsely accusing those who stand for our values of being divisive. His comments were arrogant and pompous and show an attitude that is anything but a humble public servant.”

It is also amusing to see Ralston once again trying to perform an exquisite ethical two-step. On the one hand, he argues that as speaker he “represent(s) a caucus that are basically good people doing good jobs,” and he feigns surprise that Republican voters and activists might question their ethical purity.

He then turns around and warns that if gifts over $100 are outlawed, those very same “good people” would begin to accept those gifts under the table, in violation of the law. He seems to believe that members of his own caucus would rather break the law than give up their goodies, and he seems to believe that members of his own party have become dupes of “media elites and liberal special interest groups” because they dare demand clean government.

Anyway, I just thought that was a good article and made a good point about the partisan politics that are bringing the government to a stand still.

GOP need to be focused of fixing the economy, not turning to austerity measures to effectively put a death strangle on our country…we have talked about this over and over again. It all is just too damn frustrating to see this crap going on. Sigh…

There is some excitement in the world of horse racing, I’ll Have Another catches Bodemeister again –

Two weeks ago, J. Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another ran down pacesetter Bodemeister to take the Kentucky Derby under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. On Saturday, I’ll Have Another took on that pacesetting rival in the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes and gutted out a neck victory to take the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico.

I am not really into the sport of horse racing, but my brother-in-law is a professor at Cornell and works in the lab that test the horses for drugs.

“We wanted to be a little bit closer to Bodemeister this time because normally that horse runs a huge race,” Gutierrez said. “My horse has a tremendous kick in the end. He has been proving that in the last three races. He didn’t disappoint again today. He has proven a lot of people wrong. I just have to prepare because I want to be at the same level as him. He’s an amazing horse.”

The exciting rematch was witnessed by a record crowd of 121,309 at Pimlico, edging the 2005 Preakness when 121,263 packed Old Hilltop. The 13-race Thoroughbred card generated an all-sources handle of $80,463,005. The handle ranked as the sixth highest for Pimlico’s signature day.

“The numbers say it all. We had a tremendous event,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas stated.

It’s now on to the Belmont Stakes in New York for the Doug O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another, who cost just $35,000 when purchased by O’Neill’s brother Dennis at the 2011 OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training. The colt will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978.

Now lets move on to another link that is making people talk, this time it is an op/ed in the New York Times. First we will look at the op/ed, written by Campbell Brown and then a post from Think Progress that comments on it.

Obama, Condescending to Women – NYTimes.com

WHEN I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress. As I listen, I am always bracing for the old go-to cliché: “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

Some women are smarter than men and some aren’t. But to suggest to women that they deserve dominance instead of equality is at best a cheap applause line.

Campbell Brown, Wife Of Top Romney Advisor, Blasts Obama On Women

In today’s New York Times, former cable news anchor Campbell Brown attacks President Obama for “condescending” to women with a “paternalistic,” “fake,” and “grating” attitude. In the 10th paragraph, she discloses that her husband Dan Senor is a top advisor to Mitt Romney.

Brown launches her assault based on Obama’s commencement address at Barnard College — the women’s college at Columbia University — and suggests that though “it’s a tough economy,” he shouldn’t have encouraged the young women there that they are “tougher” and that “things will get better” in the nation’s job market.

Brown’s primary contention is that Obama is ignoring economic issues related to women to focus on things like abortion rights and affordable access to contraception. To justify her attack, Brown cites a handful of stories from personal friends and relatives, then cites polling data:

The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the economy overwhelms everything else….

Another recent Pew Research Center survey found that voters, when thinking about whom to vote for in the fall, are most concerned about the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent). Near the bottom of the list were some of the hot-button social issues.

She’s right: the economy and jobs are at the top of voters’ lists of issues. But it’s not at the expense of all other issues. Indeed, the same Pew poll Brown cites shows that more than a third of voters ranked “abortion” and “birth control” — 39 and 34 percent, respectively — as “very important” issues. And, according to the report, “Birth control is significantly more important to women (40% very important) than men (27%).”

Four pages past Brown’s essay in the Times’s Sunday Review, the Times editorial board takes Republicans to task and outlines their continuing assault on women’s issues. The problem with Romney — elided by Brown — is that he shares many of these extreme views. Brown writes:

Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills. To borrow a phrase from our president’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, they want “an open field and a fair chance.”

When asked why Romney has repeatedly dodged the question about his “support” the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Romney campaign had this to say.

The campaign quickly covered itself with the hedge that Romney “supports pay equity and is not looking to change current law.” Republicans in Congress opposed the law when it was debated. Only two GOP senators — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who side with the President against their party on women’s issues — voted for it.

I have more world news after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: No more…please!

Good Morning!

Did you catch the debate last night?  If you didn’t Wonk did an excellent job of hosting a live blog.

Presidential debates sometimes have their moments…a thousand points of light, Hillary is likable enough, I know there are more but I am just too exhausted to think of other fine debater examples. There wasn’t any gotcha moment last night, with the exception of Huntsman who was absent in the last few Iowa debates, the performance was pretty much the same as the last 12 or 50 GOP debates this past month.

Last night just emphasized the quality, or lack thereof, of the GOP offering. They are having another “forum” on Meet the Press today, so it will be yet another reason to sleep in this morning.

Here are a few links to get you caught up on what the media has to say about the freak show, I’ll save the best pundit remarks for last:

For a quick summary:  Five Takeaways From Saturday Night’s GOP Debate

When asked about those racist newsletters, Paul tried to pass off his hero-worship of MLK and his opinion on the unfairness of the justice system as proof he is not a racist. Ron Paul says he is not racist, slams drug laws as unfair to blacks

Paul said that Martin Luther King is one his heroes for practicing “the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience,” and highlighted his understanding that the drug laws in the United States unfairly penalize African Americans.

Well, it still doesn’t answer the question about holding Ron Paul accountable for his racist newsletters. Ron Paul Calls MLK a “Hero”—After Newsletter Trashed Him as a “World-Class Adulterer”

If you need a refresher on what else these newsletters contained: 10 Extreme Claims in Ron Paul’s Controversial Newsletters

As far as Mittens is concerned. Meh…

Why Romney’s Answer on Contraception Doesn’t Add Up

Mitt Romney Is Confused About Iran Sanctions

Here is what Charlie Pierce had to say, see you could have just skipped over all the other links…I am betting most of you did. 😉

New Hampshire Debate: The Trickless-Dick Mitt Fix Is In, by Charles P. Pierce – Esquire

At this moment, I am still digesting the incredible farrago of gibbering nonsense, vengeful religious rage, political chickenshit, and Mandarin Chinese that combined to make the 45,670th of 62,390 scheduled Republican presidential debates the Level 4 biohazard that it was.

Oh yeah…you know Pierce take on the debate is going to be good.

In brief, Saturday night may have been the most naked piece of point-shaving and game-throwing since the 1919 World Series. I’ve seen fixed prizefights where the issue was more in doubt. The other candidates went so far into the tank for Willard that they may not dry off until next August. In the 1950’s, Frankie Carbo would have had them all killed because they made it look so damned obvious. Where was the promised Gingrich assault on the frontrunner? Where was the blood, the guts, the glory? Where was the damn slasher film we all anticipated? This was a waltz, and a clumsy one. If the people in that audience had any pride at all, they’d have attacked the ABC platform and demanded satisfaction for this massive piece of consumer fraud.

The coalescing has begun. The non-Romneys seem to be coming to grips with the fact that there’s virtually no chance that Willard isn’t the nominee. So, by and large, the rest of them started paying court staying away from him.

Pierce then breaks down the two things all this VP ass kissing accomplished.

1) Willard was able to get away with being even more banal than he usually is, except for that one moment when George Stephanopoulos tried to get him to give a straight answer on the right to privacy as derived from the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision in reference to contraception. “I don’t know any state that wants to ban contraception, George,” said Willard, running through all four of the expressions of which his face is capable, beginning with “Lordly Disdain” and ending with “Flog The Butler.” Stephanopoulos pressed on. (At one point, I thought he might throw a packet of Trojans at Willard and say, “These, motherfucker!”) Romney ducked, weaved, made his face work harder than he was, until he finally cried, “Hey, contraception works!”

Not exactly Webster’s Reply To Hayne, true. But not banal.

And:

2) Because they declined to be dicks to Willard, because they’re all going to spend most of next autumn getting sockless, drunk, and standing behind him on a stage, pretending they don’t want to hit him with their shoes, the rest of the cast decided to be dicks toward each other, toward the president, and toward large numbers of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Ron Paul called Newt Gingrich a chickenhawk, and Newt responded by saying that he’d never asked for his deferment, which he received because he was married at the time to the first of his future ex-wives. Paul came back at him. “When I was called, I was married and had two kids. I went.” Dr. Paul has a dickish side to him that has been heretofore covert. Not anymore.

However, not to be outdone…

Newt rallied his well-wrought dickness, though, right after a lengthy wrangle over gay marriage that might have been the most pointless discussion of that particular controversial issue ever conducted, by attacking the “liberal news media” for paying so much attention to discrimination under the law aimed at gay people, and none at all to the fact that Catholic organizations have been forbidden from arranging adoptions and performing other social services because they choose to practice discrimination based on religion. “There’s anti-Christian bigotry and none of it gets covered,” thundered Gingrich, who earlier in the discussion said that being nice to gay couples (Hey, you can visit your partner when he’s dying. Is this a great country or what?) didn’t mean adjusting the sacrament of marriage. It apparently has eluded his Holiness, Pope N. Leroy I, that not only is secular marriage not a sacrament, but also that a lot of Protestant denominations don’t believe it is, either.

Just go over to the link and read the whole thing…

The thing that stood out to me was the misleading remarks when it came to Obama and his weak liberal stance on Iraq, and his European socialist policies. Misleading is putting it mildly. Obama follows in Rumsfeld’s footprints

Defense analysts almost immediately drew the comparison between Rumsfeld’s vision and the one spelled out in Obama’s plan.

“It is easy to emphasize Asia, technology, and quality over quantity,” Pentagon adviser and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman said Thursday. “In fact, this is what Secretary Rumsfeld did.”

Center for Defense Information analyst Winslow Wheeler, a former congressional defense aide, said the Obama plan is “very much like Rumsfeld’s ‘Transformation’ agenda.”

What’s more, Wheeler said, the Obama plan’s shifting of the nation’s defense strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region “re-emphasizes the focus on the Air Force and Navy as the ‘transformative’ military services — Rumsfeld’s word, not theirs — but they seem to mean very much the same thing.”

As far as the European Socialist remark made by Newt, let’s go back to Pierce for a moment:

The trademark Gingrichian sneer was mostly leveled at President Obama, who, Gingrich said, “in his desperate attempt to create a radical socialist European model is undoubtedly sincere.” Ooooh, snap! Look upon my adjectives, ye mighty, and despair!

I won’t spend any time on the frothy dick, aka Santorum, you can read Pierce for that…

In other news…Musharraf Will Be Arrested on Arrival in Pakistan, PTI Reports

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as Pakistan’s president in 2008, will be arrested on arrival in the country later this month, the Press Trust of India reported, citing a prosecutor.

Musharraf is a “proclaimed offender” and there’s no need for a warrant for this arrest, PTI reported today, citing Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, prosecutor at the Federal Investigation Agency. Musharraf lives in Dubai and London and plans to return to Pakistan on Jan. 25 or Jan. 27, according to the report.

In Texas, CVS Refuses To Sell Texas Man Emergency Contraception For His Wife, Suggests He’s A Rapist

A Texas man has enlisted the ACLU to help him sue CVS for gender discrimination after a pharmacist refused to sell him emergency contraception.

Jason Melbourne had already visited four pharmacies in search of Plan B for his wife when he was referred to a CVS in Mesquite, Texas, some 15 miles away from his home. They had one box left:

But when he finally got there, the overnight pharmacist, Minni Matthew, told Melbourne she wasn’t going to sell it to him.

In order for him to buy the meds, the pharmacist said, she’d need to talk to and see the ID of his wife, who was at home with their two young children. He asked why, and she pointed to the fine print on the medication’s box, which says it can only be sold to someone age 17 or older. Melbourne pointed out that he was well over 17.

“I’ve bought this plenty of times in my life, and it’s never been a problem,” he said. “Are you telling me every other place I’ve bought it from has been wrong?”

Didn’t matter, Matthew said, since the medicine obviously wasn’t for him.

Why don’t you show me the law that says you can’t sell this to a man?” Melbourne replied.

The situation got worse from there. Melbourne put his wife on the phone and even Googled the medication to show the pharmacist there was no law against selling it to a man. But “she didn’t want to see it,” he said.

That’s when a male pharmacy technician informed Melbourne that they didn’t want to sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”

Jezebel notes that Melbourne’s ordeal happened around the same time that a Houston CVS store refused to sell another man Plan B. CVS apologized for that last month, calling it an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t.

CVS isn’t the only pharmacy that has issues with selling Plan B to a man…

In fact, in 2010 ACLU received reports that Walgreens stores in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma were refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. Walgreens relented when the ACLU confronted them publicly.

Moving on, yes I am too tired to keep this up much longer.

‘Whooping cranes plane’ runs afoul of FAA

Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.

Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.

FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration’s plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that’s the category of aircraft that the group’s small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft — which are sometimes of exotic design — from being flown to benefit a business or charity.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: An interesting health link for you today…

Radical liver surgery saves life of young mom, California first

A team led by Alan Hemming, MD, transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Health System, has successfully performed the west coast’s first ex-vivo liver resection, a radical procedure to completely remove and reconstruct a diseased liver and re-implant it without any tumors. The procedure saved the life of a 27-year old mother whose liver had been invaded by a painful tumor that crushed the organ and entangled its blood supply.

“During a 9-hour surgery the team was able to remove the basketball-sized tumor,” said Hemming, professor and surgical director of the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (CHAT) at UC San Diego Health System. “This is a surgery that carries a 15 to 20 percent risk of mortality. In this case, the patient would not have survived if she did not have surgery. This was the only way we could save her liver and her life.”

During the procedure, the diseased liver was detached from the body, flushed with preservation solution and cooled to a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. This allowed Hemming to carefully remove the tumor from the liver in a bloodless field while preserving vital structures. Hemming then removed the tumor which weighed as much as the liver itself. Once the tumor was removed, the vessels were meticulously reconstructed. The liver was then successfully reimplanted.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: A few weeks ago I wrote about the Congo’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, there is a guy heading into the jungle to find the Congo mokele mbembe. Dom Joly: If I’m munched by a mokele mbembe, farewell, dear readers – Dom Joly – Columnists – The Independent

I’m off to the Congo for two weeks. I’m still travelling the world looking for reputed monsters to put in my new book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. This time I’m going after the mokele mbembe, a dinosaur-type creature that is supposed to inhabit Lake Tele in the far north of “good” Congo.

In case you didn’t know, there are two Congos: the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is the “bad” Congo. The giveaway being the use of “democratic” in the name – this is always a sign that it is not democratic and not much fun (see the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic People’ s Republic of North Korea). I’m off to the Republic of Congo to try to find the elusive beast that has apparently forced tribes of pygmies to build huge stockades around their villages.

Lets hope he doesn’t become lunch.

That is it for me, it is 3am and I just want to go to sleep. So if you come accross any typos…you know why.

What are you all reading and blogging about today?

 

**Updated**

The New York Times has a review of this mornings debate: <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/us/politics/romney-is-the-main-target-in-a-caustic-gop-debate.html”>Romney Is the Main Target in a Caustic G.O.P. Debate – NYTimes.com</a>


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

We’ve had some cold gloomy weather down here in New Orleans.  I hope all those bowl game tourists brought their coats. It’s made for a depressing weekend.  It seems like most of the news I’ve been finding matches the weather too.  Another presidential election year is upon us and we’re looking at the Grinch getting the Republican nomination. Soon, all poor children will be required to mine the coal so the Grinch can place them in every one’s stockings. Well, that’s the east coast poor children.  Those poor children in the middle of the country will be fattening up turkeys for the 1 percent to eat.  I’ll bet Mitch can make a $10,000 bet on which of the kids will have it worse!

First up is an interesting read from the Business Insider that once again shoots down the meme that the rich create jobs.  There are so many economic fairy tales around these days it’s hard to know which one to shoot down next. The bottom line is pretty much something we’ve talked about for some time.  If you build it and no one comes, you don’t create anything but one more bankruptcy.  It’s the consumer demand that creates economic growth.

The most important reason the theory that “rich people create the jobs” is absurd, argues Nick Hanauer, the founder of online advertising company aQuantive, which Microsoft bought for $6.4 billion, is that rich people do not create jobs, even if they found and build companies that eventually employ thousands of people.

What creates the jobs, Hanauer astutely observes, is the company’s customers.

The company’s customers create demand for the company’s products, which, in turn, creates the need for the employees to produce, sell, and service those products. If those customers go broke, the demand for the company’s products will collapse. And the jobs will disappear, regardless of what the entrepreneur does.

That’s actually some good common sense but it’s backed up by economic theory.  Supply without demand just rots in the fields and molds in the warehouse.  Which brings me to Paul Krugman who says it’s time to call this economic situation a depression.  That’s also something we’ve bandied about here.  I’d say skydancers are pretty prescient, wouldn’t you?

It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.

Krugman takes the rest of the column outlining some of the abysmal politics and economics in Europe.  I just keep checking the calendar to see if we some how time tripped back to the 1930s and some how forget what we learned the last time out.  Looking at things from a war build-up point a view, there’s this link to “Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Borders with China and Russia” from Global Research. This is how some leftwing thinkers see the latest in US outreach in Asia.

November 2011 is a moment of great historical import: Obama declared two major policy positions, both having tremendous strategic consequences affecting competing world powers.

Obama pronounced a policy of military encirclement of China based on stationing a maritime and aerial armada facing the Chinese coast – an overt policy designed to weaken and disrupt China ’s access to raw materials and commercial and financial ties in Asia . Obama’s declaration that Asia is the priority region for US military expansion, base-building and economic alliances was directed against China , challenging Beijing in its own backyard. Obama’s iron fist policy statement, addressed to the Australian Parliament, was crystal clear in defining US imperial goals.

“Our enduring interests in the region [Asia Pacific] demands our enduring presence in this region … The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay … As we end today’s wars [i.e. the defeats and retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan]… I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority … As a result, reduction in US defense spending will not … come at the expense of the Asia Pacific” (CNN.com, Nov. 16, 2011).

The precise nature of what Obama called our “presence and mission” was underlined by the new military agreement with Australia to dispatch warships, warplanes and 2500 marines to the northern most city of Australia ( Darwin ) directed at China . Secretary of State Clinton has spent the better part of 2011 making highly provocative overtures to Asian countries that have maritime border conflicts with China . Clinton has forcibly injected the US into these disputes, encouraging and exacerbating the demands of Vietnam , Philippines , and Brunei in the South China Sea . Even more seriously, Washington is bolstering its military ties and sales with Japan , Taiwan , Singapore and South Korea , as well as increasing the presence of battleships, nuclear submarines and over flights of war planes along China ’s coastal waters. In line with the policy of military encirclement and provocation, the Obama-Clinton regime is promoting Asian multi-lateral trade agreements that exclude China and privilege US multi-national corporations, bankers and exporters, dubbed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”. It currently includes mostly smaller countries, but Obama has hopes of enticing Japan and Canada to join …

Obama’s presence at the APEC meeting of East Asian leader and his visit to Indonesia in November 2011 all revolve around efforts to secure US hegemony. Obama-Clinton hope to counter the relative decline of US economic links in the face of the geometrical growth of trade and investment ties between East Asia and China .

Pakistan is threatening to shoot down all US drones. Tis the season to be jolly!!!

According to the new Pakistani defense policy, “Any object entering into our air space, including U.S. drones, will be treated as hostile and be shot down,” a senior Pakistani military official told NBC News.

The policy change comes just weeks after a deadly NATO attack on Pakistani military checkpoints accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Pakistani officials to order all U.S. personnel out of a remote airfield in Pakistan

I wonder if people in North Dakota have the same option?  Here’s the Daily Mail headline on your Daily Moment of Orwell: Local cops using Predator drones to spy on Americans in their own backyards.

One of the only confirmed uses of predator drones by local law enforcement came in June when a sheriff near Grand Forks, North Dakota, went looking for six stolen cattle.

When he arrived at the farm of Rodney Brossart, he was threatened by three men with guns and forced to retreat.

The Brossarts were known for being armed, anti-government separatists. So Sheriff Kelly Janke, who patrols a county of just 3,000 people, called in a Predator drone to look out over the 3,000-acre farm where the family was armed with rifles and shotguns.

With the help of a drone, summoned from nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base where it was patrolling the US-Candida border, the sheriff was able to watch the movements of everyone on the farm from a handheld device that picked up the aircraft’s video footage.

He and his deputies waited until they could see the Brossarts put down their weapons. Then they stormed the compound and arrested Rodney Brossart, his daughter and his three sons on a total of 11 felony charges. No shots were fired.

And he recovered the cattle, valued at $6,000.

The sheriff says that might not have been possible without the intelligence from the Predators.

‘We don’t have to go in guns blazing. We can take our time and methodically plan out what our approach should be,’ Sheriff Janke told the Times.

All of the surveillance occurred without a search warrant because the Supreme Court has long ruled that anything visible from the air, even if it’s on private property, can be subject to police spying.

Back to the Grinch that’s stealing Willard’s inevitability.

The NBC News-Marist polls showed Gingrich leading Romney in South Carolina by 42 percent to 23 percent. An October poll by the same organizations showed Gingrich at 7 percent in the Palmetto State. In Florida, Gingrich leads Romney 44 percent to 29 percent. There Gingrich has gained 38 percentage points since October.

The rapid movement highlights the remarkable rise of Gingrich as the caucuses and primaries near. Republican voters have shifted allegiances repeatedly this year and a number of state polls have shown that they are not firmly locked in behind any candidate at this point.

In New Hampshire on Sunday, Romney picked up the endorsement of Manchester Mayor Ted Gastas. But he was the target of a scathing editorial in the Union Leader, which earlier endorsed Gingrich. The headline read “Romney’s desperate hours.”

January’s coming and sooner or later, some of these folks are going to run out of money.  There seems to be quite a few irrelevant candidates in the race right now.  Maybe super Jeb is waiting in the wings? So here’s a good way we now MIttens is tres desperate.  Here’s the TPM headline: Romney Presses Ann Coulter Into Surrogate Duty.

Turn on the radio here and you’re going to get a taste of how hard Mitt Romney is working to stamp out Newt Gingrich’s support with conservatives.

In a new radio ad launched by the Romney campaign in Iowa last week, Romney turns to conservative fire-breather Ann Coulter to make the case that he’s the most electable candidate in the Republican race. Having made a living off saying things that no politician would likely wish to be closely associated with, it’s an interesting choice — and a sign that Romney is going all out to cast himself as the more pure conservative choice to Gingrich.

Coulter endorsed Romney a month ago (after dissing him before that) and the Romney ad grabs a clip of her talking up her candidate on Fox and Friends in November.

Here’s a ghost of nightmares past.  Noriega has been extradited to Panama for trial. The link goes to a BBC TV report.

The former leader of Panama, General Manuel Noriega, has returned to his home country 22 years after being forcibly removed from power by the US.

The 77-year-old was extradited from France, where he had been in prison on money laundering charges.

He is likely to spend the rest of his life in jail after being convicted in absentia for murder, corruption and embezzlement while he was in power.

OOOH, baby it’s cold outside.


What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: Cantor’s Conflict, Libertarian Cruelty, bin Laden’s DNA, and a Cold Case Solved

Good Morning!! I’ll take my coffee iced today, because it’s hotter than hell here in the Boston area. And about 110 percent humidity. OK, let’s get to the news.

The Washington Post has a laudatory profile of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his refusal to negotiate on raising the Federal debt ceiling–without ever mentioning that Cantor stands to make lots of money if the U.S. defaults on its debts.

Last month, Cantor walked out of talks led by Vice President Biden. Cantor said the reason was Democrats’ insistence on raising taxes as part of a deal to increase the national debt ceiling.

Then, last week, Cantor urged House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to reject a possible “grand bargain” with President Obama, which could have included tax increases. Boehner pulled Republicans out of those talks.

Now, as Cantor joins other leaders at the White House for near-daily summits in the third different grouping of negotiators, his moves have revealed him as a third major player in a legislative drama that had been dominated by Obama and Boehner. Where Boehner has sought to define what Republicans can do with their newfound power, Cantor, the House’s ambitious number-two, wants to underline what Republicans would never do.

So what is Cantor’s negotiating strategy?

On Monday, with a potential default less than a month away, Cantor was asked to identify compromises that Republicans had offered to help negotiations along.

He told reporters that the negotiation itself was a compromise.

“I don’t think the White House understands how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they are going to vote for a debt-ceiling increase,” Cantor said.

Gee, it wasn’t all that hard to increase the debt ceiling again and again under Bush, now was it? But maybe in those days Cantor wasn’t betting against the U.S. in his financial investments. It’s very troubling that the Post didn’t mention Cantor’s humongous conflict of interest.

According to a new Washington Post-Pew poll, increasing numbers of Americans are “very concerned” about a U.S. default, but they are also “concerned” that raising the limit will lead to out-of-control spending.

The twin, divergent, concerns complicate the political calculus for the White House and congressional leaders as they attempt to strike an agreement. Nearly eight in 10 Americans are worried about raising the debt limit, and about three-quarters are concerned about not doing so.

Asked to choose, 42 percent see greater risk in a potential default stemming from not raising the debt limit, a seven-point increase from a Post-Pew poll six weeks ago. Slightly more, 47 percent, express deeper concern about lifting the limit, but the gap has narrowed.

Sixty-six percent of Republicans worry more about raising the debt limit than the U.S. defaulting on its debts. {sigh…}

Hipparchia has a wonderful post at Corrente that is an extended metaphor for libertarian attitudes about health care, specifically in reaction to the writings of a libertarian from the CATO Institute, Michael F. Cannon on the new Oregon health care plan. Here is the relevant quote from Cannon that set her off.

Michael F Cannon, of Cato@Liberty :

The OHIE establishes only that there are some (modest) benefits to expanding Medicaid (to poor people) (after one year). It tells us next to nothing about the costs of producing those benefits, which include not just the transfers from taxpayers but also any behavioral changes on the part of Medicaid enrollees, such as reductions in work effort or asset accumulation induced by this means-tested program. Nor does it tell us anything about the costs and benefits of alternative policies.

Reduction in work effort?? This would be really funny if Cannon weren’t so deadly serious. Providing health care to poor people means that more of them are just going to spend their days hanging out in parks, yakking on their cell phones , I guess. So, Libertarians are in favor of liberty for themselves and wage slavery for anybody else. Good to know.

Please go read the whole thing if you have time. It’s well worth the effort. We live in a world of selfish, greedy narcissistic fops. How can the country survive them?

Joseph Cannon has a short but pithy post on the media’s obsession with Casey Anthony being found not guilty. He then points out that the media has completely ignored the fact that

In 1995, when the Presidency was in the hands of the despised Bill Clinton, government regulators overseeing skullduggery on Wall Street referred 1,837 cases to the Justice Department for prosecution. That number has gone down. Between 2007 and 2010, the Justice Department has received just 72 referrals a year (on average).

Gosh. How can this be? I guess investment bankers are simply more honest than they used to be.

You won’t see this issue discussed on CNN. It’s not newsworthy.

I did not know that. Thank you Joseph Cannon. F&ck you CNN (and HLN and Nancy Grace).

Here’s an interesting story from The Guardian UK: CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA

As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the “project” in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor’s arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor’s safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.

The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.

DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.

Jeralyn at Talk Left has finally decided that Obama deserves to get a pink slip. Yes, I know, she should have known better. But please go read anyway.

I’m going to end with a story about a long ago murdered child and how the case has been solved–54 years later. Maria Ridulph disappeared in 1957 when she was 7 years old. Maria and her best friend Kathy were playing on the street one day.

Kathy Chapman, who was 8 at the time, recalled that she and Maria were under a corner streetlight when a young man she knew as “Johnny” offered them a piggyback ride. Chapman, now 61 and living in St. Charles, Ill., told the AP she ran home to get mittens and that when she returned, Maria and the man were gone.

Maria’s disappearance and death had a powerful effect on her small community.

Charles “Chuck” Ridulph always assumed the person who stole his little sister from the neighborhood corner where she played and dumped her body in a wooded stretch some 100 miles away was a trucker or passing stranger — surely not anyone from the hometown he remembers as one big, friendly playground.

And, after more than a half century passed since her death, he assumed the culprit also had died or was in prison for some other crime.

On Saturday, he said he was stunned by the news that a one-time neighbor had been charged in the kidnapping and killing that captured national attention, including that of the president and FBI chief. Prosecutors in bucolic Sycamore, a city of 15,000 that’s home to a yearly pumpkin festival, charged a former police officer Friday in the 1957 abduction of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph after an ex-girlfriend’s discovery of an unused train ticket blew a hole in his alibi.

Maria Ridulph

From the Seattle Times:

A judge in Seattle set bail Monday at $3 million for Jack Daniel McCullough, of Seattle, a former police officer who denies he is the man Illinois police have been seeking in the 1957 slaying of a young girl….

McCullough, 71, a former police officer in Milton and Lacey, has been living in North Seattle and working as a night watchman in a senior-housing facility, Four Freedoms.

McCullough, 18 at the time of the girl’s death, had been a suspect early in the investigation. He lived about a block from where the girl disappeared and matched the description of a man seen at the site.

At the time, police did not show Maria’s best friend Kathy a picture of their suspect. But last year, they showed her a picture of the teenaged McCullough (then using the last name Tessier) and she recognized him.

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


SDB Evening News Reads for 050911

Vintage Evening Newspaper from Westminster, England.

Good Evening….Minx here and today I will start a new regular weekday post that will bring you up to date on the news reports that happened during the day.  Sort of like when people would tune into the Network’s Evening News when they got home after work…only the SDB’s Evening News Reads will have our own Sky Dancer Spin on it.  I’ll cut through the crap and get everyone caught up on the days events. So be sure to check it out Weekday’s between 5 and 6pm EST. (That gives me a bit of leeway with the post…just a little more room as far as writing is concerned.)

Here is what’s been happening today.

U.S. News

With Mississippi River on Rise, Memphis Residents Told to Go – NYTimes.com

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Workers used cranes to remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway’s wooden barriers, which serve as a dam against the high water in Norco, La., approximately 30 miles upriver from New Orleans, on Monday.

MEMPHIS — The Mississippi River is expected to crest near Memphis on Monday evening, and emergency officials spent several hours in the morning going door-to-door to warn residents in low-lying areas to evacuate.

The Mississippi, which has already caused some flooding in Memphis during the last several days, will top out at 48 feet on Monday at about 7 p.m., said Tracy Howieson, a National Weather Service hydrologist. It is expected to stay at that level for at least 48 hours before slowly receding.

“It will be a prolonged crest at Memphis and in parts downstream,” Ms. Howieson said.

The river had not been expected to crest until later this week, but it has taken on a surge of water in recent days from some of its tributaries, officials said.

Dak mentioned some of the concerns this flooding will cause in her backyard.  Will keep you posted on this as the water heads down river.

Paul Krugman has a new post up, and all I can say about it is …no shit.

The Unwisdom of Elites – NYTimes.com

The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong?

Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.

So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.

The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.

Read the rest of Krugman…he discusses what happened in the US and then in Europe. It is pretty much a review of what brought on this economic mess.

Here is a recent court decision that was interesting to me..you may also find it interesting as well:  North Carolina Appellate Decision Raises New Chain of Title Issue « naked capitalism

A potentially important North Carolina appeals court case, In re Gilbert, has not gotten the attention it warrants.

In very short form, the borrowers, who were unable to obtain a loan modification, tried to halt a foreclosure by arguing that the lenders had failed to make required disclosures under the Truth in Lending Act (which they hoped would allow for recission of the loan, and that the party seeking to foreclose had not proved that it was the holder of the Note with the right to foreclose under the instrument. The judges nixed the TILA argument, affirming lower court decisions, but reversed the superior court on the question of the standing of the petitioner.

What is interesting is the logic of the decision, which blows a hole in one of the pet arguments of the American Securitization Forum, that possession of a note will suffice. We have argued that the contracts that govern the securitization, the pooling and servicing agreement, sets the requirements for conveyance as is contemplated in the Uniform Commercial Code (its Article 1 allows for parties to make their own arrangements as long as certain conditions are met). But if the parties to a case do not argue that the PSA trumps the UCC (and many do not), most judges will reason from the UCC, and securitization attorneys have blithely assumed this will get them out of trouble.

World News

In World News, 600 people are feared dead:  BBC News – Libya: Hundreds feared dead as migrant boat capsizes

Several hundred people are feared to have drowned off Libya, after a boat carrying some 600 refugees trying to reach Europe broke up at sea on Friday.

The UN’s refugee agency said 16 bodies, including two babies, had been found.

UNCHR has said all ships using the Mediterranean should be ready to assist such vessels, as thousands continue to flee North Africa in inadequate boats.

Nato has denied claims that its naval units left dozens of migrants to die aboard another boat in distress.

It said it was unaware of the plight of the boat, which reportedly was adrift for more than two weeks.

The Guardian newspaper said 61 of the 72 people on board the boat died of hunger or thirst, despite being spotted by a military helicopter and Nato ship.

UNHCR’s said migrants arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa had reported seeing the boat carrying some 600 people foundering shortly after leaving the port at Tripoli on Friday.

If confirmed, this would be one of the largest accidents so far involving the thousands of often unseaworthy boats trying to reach Europe following unrest in North Africa.

News From Pakistan rejects complicity in bin Laden case – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Pakistan has denied allegations of complicity or incompetence in the Osama bin Laden case.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, the country’s prime minister, said that it was “disingenuous” for anyone to accuse either the Pakistani state or its various institutions, including its intelligence agencies, of “being in cahoots” with al-Qaeda.

Addressing parliament on Monday, Gilani said it was Pakistan’s spy agency that had given “key leads” that ultimately led to the US raid on the compound in Pakistan’s Abbottabad where bin Laden lived.

He said that his country attached high importance to its relations with the United States, but warned that “unilateral actions” such as the raid on bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad ran the risk of serious consequences.

This is a great follow up to the AJE article above:  On Bin Laden: I ask myself ‘Why?’ | Informed Comment

I ask myself why. Some Pakistanis are complaining about the violation of their country’s sovereignty during the Navy SEALs’ raid at Abbottabad.

But why aren’t they complaining about Usama Bin Laden’s violation of Pakistani sovereignty? He and his family entered their country illegally, and then re-formed a paramilitary organization that killed Pakistanis and raided from Pakistan over into Afghanistan. Foreigners behaving that way for years on Pakistani soil with no pretense of legality seems to me a bigger violation of Pakistani sovereignty than a 40-minute raid that captured one fugitive who had killed 3000 Americans.

I ask myself why. Some observers are calling the SEALs’ operation against Bin Laden illegal.

But the United Nations Charter firmly recognizes the right of a state to defend itself from attack. Bin Laden had demonstrated that he could and would attack the United States. He was also having US troops in Afghanistan, who are there with UNO sanction, attacked. He was doing this every day. Why wouldn’t the US have the same right to defend itself as everyone else? Pakistani troops in the late 1990s routinely went into Afghanistan for purposes less urgent than self-defense.

Please read the rest of Juan Cole’s article…he also has a few other recent quick posts up that you may want to check out as well.

Looking forward for this report from Amnesty International Unveils Global Report On Human Rights; Issue Experts Available For Analysis – PR Newswire – sacbee.com

Amnesty International (AI) will launch its annual assessment of human rights worldwide on Friday, May 13, and the U.S. section of the world’s largest human rights organization is urging the U.S. Congress to support reform efforts across the Middle East and North Africa by investing in development and advancing cyber-activists and internet freedom.

In November or December Dakinikat wrote an article about Big Pharma…here is a piece from Reuters that discusses the same things Dak brought up:  Special report: Big Pharma’s global guinea pigs | Reuters

The Polish port city of Gdansk is famous for its shipyards. Hungary’s fifth largest city, Pecs, is known for its ancient architecture and brewery. Neither is particularly renowned for medicine. Yet when AstraZeneca Plc tested its big new drug hope Brilinta on heart attack patients in a major clinical study, it was hospitals in these places that enrolled some of the highest number of patients anywhere in the world.

In fact, Poland and Hungary together accounted for 21 percent of all subjects studied in the pivotal 18,000-patient trial — more than double the United States and Canada combined.

A few years ago that would have been unthinkable. Major drug companies, with an eye on the commercial promise of the world’s largest and most profitable market, would have run half their tests on a major cardiovascular medicine like this in U.S. hospitals under the supervision of U.S. doctors.

And I will end with this laugh: ThinkProgress » Trump: ‘I Am The Least Racist Person There Is’ Because A Black Guy Won The Apprentice Six Years Ago

Potential presidential candidate Donald Trump has often found himself in hot water for making racially-tinged comments — saying in the span of a single press conference, for example, that President Obama should “get off his basketball court” and that a black reporter must be a “big Obama fan.” Yet, Trump insists he has a “great relationship with the blacks.” Responding to accusations of racism this morning on Fox & Friends, Trump said he is the “least racist person there is,” citing the fact that an African-American man won The Apprentice once as proof:

TRUMP: Well, you know, when it comes to racism and racists, I am the least racist person there is. And I think most people who know me would tell you that. I am the least racist, I’ve had great relationships. In fact, Randal Pinkett won, as you know, on The Apprentice a little while ago, a couple of years ago. And Randall’s been outstanding in every way. So I am the least racist person.

So that is your evening update…catch y’all later!