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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015


The Cent-ire Strikes Back?

by Tom Sullivan

This appeared yesterday in The Hill:

Centrist Democrats are gathering their forces to fight back against the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of their party, fearing a sharp turn to the left could prove disastrous in the 2016 elections.


The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

"I have great respect for Sen. Warren — she's a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side."

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, "it's going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition."

I had to pause reading to laugh out loud.

Gabe Horwitz of centrist Third Way told The Hill, “In the last election, Democrats, as a party, offered a message of fairness. Voters responded, and they responded really negatively ... Democrats offered fairness, and voters wanted prosperity and growth.”

The Hill notes that the NDC's policy proposal is aimed at pushing back against a progressive agenda announced last week by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The Facebook video of Warren discussing the plan and hammering the unfairness of the current economy for hard-working Americans has received just short of 2 million views.

Warren speaks to kitchen-table issues in plain English working people understand.

My wife spoke last month with a Fox News-watching brother of a friend. He's white, registered unaffiliated, disenchanted with both parties, and didn't bother to vote in the 2014 mid-terms. Neither party has done anything for the working man for 40 years, he told her. Yet he liked "that woman" who's taking on the big banks. He couldn't name her, but thought it a miracle that she's still alive.

He's a conservative from North Carolina, where Third Way's Kay Hagan — running an Obama-style field campaign, but selling herself as the "most moderate" senator — narrowly lost her U.S. Senate seat to "Typhoid Thom" Tillis.

Centrist Democrats, don't be too proud of that political battle station you're constructing.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The worst veto in US history

by digby

This should go on his gravestone:

Bush Announces Veto of Waterboarding Ban

By Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, March 8, 2008; 1:47 PM

President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it "would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror."

"This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Congress approved an intelligence authorization bill that contains the waterboarding provision on slim majorities, far short of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.
Bush's long-expected veto reignites the Washington debate over the proper limits of U.S. interrogation policies and whether the CIA has engaged in torture by subjecting prisoners to severe tactics, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning...

The practice as used by the CIA bears similarities to the methods of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and by the current dicatorship in Burma, according to congressional testimony and torture experts.

But as Bush emphasized in his remarks, the program also included other coercive tactics that are forbidden in the U.S. military and widely considered unlawful among human rights advocates.

The CIA has not specified all the tactics it wants to keep using but says it no longer uses waterboarding. Bush administration officials have not ruled out using waterboarding again.

There's no doubt it will be used again. But only because we're good and they're evil.


Dispatch from the campaign of the most overrated politician in America

by digby

I have been saying for months that Scott Walker is just another manifestation of the political class'bizarre obsession with finding a great Republican leader from the upper Mid-West and have characterized him as the most overrated politician in America.

Byron York seems to have noticed the problem:

[A] huge part of Walker's appeal right now: He seems to be the Republican candidate who has the best chance of connecting with the millions of middle-class voters who have drifted away from the GOP in recent elections. And for that reason, Walker looks like the man who can attract almost everyone in the Republican camp — social, economic, and national security conservatives — in addition to those disaffected voters. That's a huge plus for Walker and, along with his impressive record in Wisconsin, is the reason he has shot to the first tier of the Republican race in recent weeks.

At the same time, Walker could be headed for trouble with the establishment, Washington-based wing of his party. Look for GOP insiders to begin whispering, and then saying out loud, that Walker needs to raise his game if he is going to play on the national stage. On the one hand, they'll have a point — Walker needs to come up with clear, crisply-expressed positions on a variety of national and international issues. On the other hand, Walker's way-outside-the-Beltway method of expressing himself might resonate with voters in primary and caucus states more than Washington thinks.

For example, in our conversation Saturday, I asked Walker what Republicans in Washington should do in the standoff over funding the Department of Homeland Security. "Not just Republicans, I think the Congress as a whole needs to find a way to fund homeland security going forward," Walker answered. He explained that he recognized the concerns lawmakers have about giving up their ability "to push back on the president's questionable, if not illegal, actions." Walker noted that he was part of the states' lawsuit against Obama's action. "I think they're right that the president is wrong," Walker told me, "but I also think we've got to make sure that homeland security isn't compromised."

After a little more along those lines, I said I was still a little unclear on where Walker stood. Should Republicans stand firm on not funding Obama's unilateral action on immigration, or should they go ahead and fund the Department of Homeland Security without regard to what Obama has done? Here is what Walker said:

I think they have to figure out some way to have the bridge to continue to fund homeland security but in a way that doesn't remove their ability to come back sometime in the not too distant future if the court rules or if the administration changes how they do this action in a way that could be upheld in court. They need to have the power of the purse string to offer a counter to that.

What does that mean, exactly? It's not entirely clear. On one hand, it appeared Walker was adopting the time-honored stance of the governor who stands outside the squabbling of both parties in Washington — a tactic that last worked quite well for George W. Bush in 2000. He'll appeal to more voters by not getting stuck in the Washington mud.

On the other hand, maybe Walker just hadn't thought it through very carefully. Certainly some parts of his performance before the Club for Growth led observers to suspect that he has not really dived into a number of big issues — not just foreign policy, but domestic as well — that will serve as tests for presidential candidates in coming months.

He doesn't know what he's talking about that much is clear. He has a flair for the wingnut radio dogwhistle because that's what he knows. But at this point the Big Money Boyz have to be wondering whether or not it makes sense to put their money on this guy. This isn't 2000 --- they have a very uphill climb even with a very good candidate. This guy isn't it.

No one expects a governor to have dived deeply into international affairs this early in the race, but Walker is definitely a work in progress. In recent weeks, for example, he has cited his command of the Wisconsin National Guard as evidence of national security experience, and in Palm Beach on Saturday, he pointed to Ronald Reagan's 1981 firing of the air traffic controllers as "the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime" — a decision made, in case anyone missed the point, by "a president who was previously a governor."

Walker's comparison set off a lot of debate over whether the air traffic control firings, as consequential as they were, really supported the point Walker was trying to make. Whatever the case, Walker insisted that "Foreign policy is something that's not just about having a Ph.D or talking to Ph.Ds. It's about leadership." In our conversation, he said he has gathered together advisers — some of whom do have Ph.Ds — and is working on foreign policy questions.

Still, all that has led to some feelings of unease among policy experts and Republican insiders that Walker, for all his outward popularity, might be headed for difficulties over the substance of policy.

Yah think?

Seven out of ten of the world's richest people are American

by digby

1. Bill Gates

Net worth: $79.2 billion

Source of wealth: Technology company Microsoft Corp.

Nationality: American

2. Carlos Slim Helu

Net worth: $77.1 billion

Source of wealth: Telecommunications

Nationality: Mexican

3. Warren Buffett

Net worth: $72.7 billion

Source of wealth: Investment holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Nationality: American

4. Amancio Ortega

Net worth: $64.5 billion

Source of wealth: Retail chain Zara

Nationality: Spanish

5. Larry Ellison

Net worth: $54.3 billion

Source of wealth: Technology company Oracle Corp.

Nationality: American

6. Charles Koch (tie)

Net worth: $42.9 billion

Source of wealth: Conglomerate Koch Industries.

Nationality: American

6. David Koch (tie)

Net worth: $42.9 billion

Source of wealth: Conglomerate Koch Industries.

Nationality: American

8. Christy Walton

Net worth: $41.7 billion

Source of wealth: Retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Nationality: American

9. Jim Walton

Net worth: $40.6 billion

Source of wealth: Retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Nationality: American

10. Liliane Bettencourt

Net worth: $40.1 billion

Source of wealth: Cosmetics company L’Oreal

Nationality: French

I'm pretty sure they all need a cut in their capital gains tax rate.
The incoherent moderates

by digby

I wrote a piece for Salon today that features a report about how political scientists have been misidentifying incoherent voters as moderates:
If there’s one article of faith in the political establishment it’s that being a political “moderate” is the only appropriate philosophy for people of good sense and mature disposition. No one possessed of even a modicum of rationality and logic could possibly hold a set of values or political positions that fall entirely on one side of the political divide or the other because that would mark him as a fanatic of some sort. And that would be very bad indeed. It might even be considered (shudder) partisan.

And if one is wise enough to be such a moderate, one naturally believes that negotiation and bipartisan agreement are achievable by people of good faith by simply sitting down and hammering out a reasonable compromise. After all, moderates have the kind of even temperament that naturally seeks comity and common ground. The problems in our politics are due entirely to the hot-headed partisans at both ends of the political spectrum who refuse to behave like adults.

Imagine how surprised the establishment wags must have been to see this Vox story by Ezra Klein reporting that political scientists have determined the vaunted moderate voter is actually an incoherent extremist who cannot possibly be appeased because her views are irrational. Seriously.
This is actually a huge problem that needs to be rectified by pollsters. First the idea of a moderate being a person of sober temperament and believes that governance works best by compromise and horse trading is correct. That would indeed be a real one. I know some of them and consider them good friends. I don't happen to think it's realistic to think that most people would be moderates or that the political system is better run by them. The system requires people of all political stripes, including the party hacks and the the activists and the fanatics. It's democracy. And I continue to resent the idea that anyone who isn't a moderate is somehow immature or unserious. It isn't true.

But this study reveals that the country has far, far fewer of these "shades of gray" folks (not that kind ... necessarily) that we have been led to believe because the pollsters are coding them as moderate when what they are is incoherent. An that is very interesting. What in the hell are the "Fix the Debt" people going to do?

Read the whole thing for a deeper exploration and then click the links to see the original report. It's interesting. Ezra had an interesting response to the news:
"When we say moderate what we really mean is what corporations want," Broockman says. "Within both parties there is this tension between what the politicians who get more corporate money and tend to be part of the establishment want — that's what we tend to call moderate — versus what the Tea Party and more liberal members want."

That's the problem with using a term that doesn't describe either an identifiable group of voters or a clearly defined ideology to describe policies. "Moderate" is simultaneously one of the most powerful and least meaningful descriptions in politics — and it's become little more than a tool the establishment uses to set limits on the range of acceptable debate. It's time to get rid of it.

Pearl clutch 'o the week

by digby

So, the Fox people are very upset about this SNL parody commercial:

The problem is that I'm not entirely sure whether they're upset by the fact that it's making a mockery of the ISIS threat or because it's making a mockery of a commercial they love:
"Wow," Fox co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck said after playing a clip. "'Saturday Night Live' attempted to be funny mocking one of the best Super Bowl commercials, that I think many people felt warmed everyone's heart, with an attempt of comedy."

The chat-show trio read tweets from Fox viewers who considered the parody offensive and disrespectful.

"Unfortunately, there's been too many Americans, fathers and mothers who dropped off children at the airport only to have them return in a casket," guest host Peter Johnson added.

By the end of the segment, Hasselbeck's voice was trembling.

"We've seen too many people headed over to join forces whose intent is to kill those leaving to fight for freedom in the entire world," she said.

"Is this funny?" Johnson eventually asked.

"I don't think there's anything funny about ISIS," Hasselbeck answered.

"How insensitive can you get?" she added. "Right now? Mmm."

It's a toss-up I think. That commercial really moved them and they are really upset to see anyone make fun of it. Also too ISIS.

And by the way, we've seen a tiny handful of people "head over to join forces with ISIS". And a lot of people see this notion that we're "fighting for freedom in the entire world" a little bit differently than that. These people live in a comic book.

This time I'll take historical revisionism for a thousand, Alex

by digby

Here's another of those reminders that the conventional wisdom which says America has always held Israel to be beyond reproach until the Kenyan usurper came along and ruined everything isn't exactly correct. Here's a line from the memoir of a former president:

"I told him I was calling P.M. Begin immediately. And I did -- I was angry -- I told him it had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered. I used the word holocaust deliberately & said the symbol of war was becoming a picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off."

That was Saint Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Just pointing it out so that people realize that this idea US presidents and Israeli Prime Ministers have always been the bestest of friends is bunk. This is not an emergency.

h/t to RP
Piketty: "Some billionaires consume academics"

by Gaius Publius

The above quote is part of a quip by Thomas Piketty (him) at a gathering of economists that included a number of right-wing ideologues like Greg Mankiw. The writer Masaccio tells the tale:
Piketty Gets A Laugh At Mankiw’s Expense

... One of those panels, packed with right-wing economists, was set up by Mankiw, who used it as a stage to attack Piketty. He and his fellow ideologues decided unanimously that the best thing to do is to impose a consumption tax, presumably as part of a package to lower taxes on the top earners and to keep capital gains taxes low and corporate taxes at their lowest level in decades.
Masaccio then mentions a joke Mankiw made publicly at Picketty's expense (I'll send you there to read that). The result:
Then someone asked Piketty what he thought about the consumption tax idea. Collins reports his reply:
“We know something about billionaire consumption,” Piketty observed, “but it is hard to measure some of it. Some billionaires are consuming politicians, others consume reporters, and some consume academics.”
Ideologue (my characterization above) or operative (Piketty's)? Feel free to decide for yourself. Masaccio's response: "Sweet."




That they should believe a lie

by Tom Sullivan

In the car last night, my wife mused on why many struggling to remain in the middle class speak so harshly of the worse off who accept public assistance, you know, for food. Given last-place aversion (see Saturday's post), isn't it a small price to ensure there are people below you on the social ladder to look down on?

I shouted, "You want me on that dole! You need me on that dole!"

In a bit of serendipity later, up popped Heather Cox Richardson's piece in Salon featuring a photo of Jack Nicholson from "A Few Good Men," about how Movement Conservatives can't handle the truth.

Beginning in the 1950s, she writes, William F. Buckley formulated a strategy for pushing back against the popular New Deal. It was "an attack on the Enlightenment principles that gave rise to Western civilization." Truth no longer served. Instead, "a compelling lie could convince voters so long as it fit a larger narrative of good and evil." The Cold War provided the growth medium.

By the George W. Bush administration, Richardson concludes,

Buckley’s intellectual stand had won. Facts and argument had given way to an ideology premised on Christianity and the idea of economic individualism. As Movement Conservatives took over the Republican Party, that ideology worked its way deep into our political system. It has given us, for example, a senator claiming words he spoke on the Senate floor were “not intended to be a factual statement.” It has given us “dynamic scoring,” a rule changing the way the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the economic impact of tax cuts, to reinforce the idea that cuts fuel economic growth despite the visibly disastrous effects of recent tax cuts on states such as Kansas. And it has given us attempts in Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina and Colorado to discard the A.P. U.S. History framework and dictate that students learn instead the Movement Conservatives’ skewed version of the nation’s history. Politicians have always spun information to advance their own policies. The practice infuriates partisans but it reflects the Enlightenment idea of progress through reasoned argument. Movement Conservatives’ insistence on their own version of reality, in defiance of facts, is something different altogether.

Examples are legion. And when confronted publicly? Double down on the lie.

Last year I wrote about the popularity of "pass-it-on" email, a phenomenon of the right all but absent on the left:

Some of us are old enough to have seen Superman on black-and-white TV defending truth, justice, and the American Way. That was then. The saddest part of pass-it-on propaganda and AFP disinformation is that the people who raised us at the height of the Cold War warned us that commies would use propaganda and disinformation to destroy America from within. Now, many of those same Real Americans™ consider trafficking in propaganda and disinformation good, clean fun for the whole family. They know it's wrong and they don't care.

There's an end-times passage in the New Testament about this:

2 Thess 2 (KJV)
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Historical revisionism for 400 Alex

by digby

All day long I've been hearing how unprecedented it is for anyone to be critical of Israel and how there's always been bipartisan support for Israel no matter what. For people born yesterday, that might sound reasonable. For the rest of us, not so much:


Published: May 23, 1991

WASHINGTON— In an unusually blunt criticism of the Israeli Government, Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d said today that nothing has more complicated his efforts to convene Middle East peace talks than Israel's continuing settlement building in the occupied territories.

Mr. Baker's declaration marked something of a shift in stated American policy on this issue by singling out Israeli settlement building. It was prompted, the Secretary said, by his four trips to the region in the last two months, during which the Israeli Government initiated or expanded Jewish settlements on each trip, antagonizing Arab leaders and making it more difficult for them to show flexibility.

"Nothing has made my job of trying to find Arab and Palestinian partners for Israel more difficult than being greeted by a new settlement every time I arrive," Mr. Baker said during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on foreign operations. "I don't think that there is any bigger obstacle to peace than the settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an enhanced pace."

His remarks came at the end of two hours of testimony in which he explained to the legislators that his inability to organize an Arab-Israeli peace conference, despite 36 days of shuttling around the region, was primarily due to Syria and Israel not being able to agree on what role the United Nations should play at a conference and how often it would reconvene. Blames Israel and Syria

Throughout his testimony Mr. Baker seemed to lay the blame evenly on Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel and President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, and suggested that if they could overcome these procedural issues, all other elements of the peace conference would fall into place.

He detailed several areas where agreement has already been reached between Arabs and Israelis: that the conference will aim to achieve a comprehensive settlement through direct talks between Israel and Arab countries, and between Israel and the Palestinians; that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians would first address an interim self-government solution and then the permanent status of the occupied territories, and that "Palestinians would be represented in the process by leaders from the occupied territories who accept the phased approach and who commit to living in peace with Israel."

Administration officials said President Bush has still not decided whether to send Mr. Baker back for yet another push to close the remaining gaps, or to invite the parties involved to Washington for a high-pressure sales pitch or to quietly drop the issue at least for a while.

At the close of today's session, the subcommittee chairman, Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, held up a copy of a recent dispatch from Israel in The Washington Post, detailing a large-scale expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the end of the gulf war, and demanded to know Mr. Baker's assessment of the situation on the ground and its implication for the peace process. Congressman Is Incensed

Mr. Obey said a report from the State Department last year indicated that there are now more than 200,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, with an increase of 9,000 to 10,000 in the last year.

"Frankly, it gets under my skin," Mr. Obey continued, "because my understanding is that this activity is in violation of U.S. policy. What bothers me is the Israeli Government says that they desperately need funds for other purposes, including bringing Soviet Jews to Israel for resettlement. But then they appear to be spending money like this, which I don't think they ought to be spending."

Responding to Mr. Obey's remarks, Mr. Baker said: "Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process on each of my four trips, I have been met with the announcement of new settlement activity. This does violate United States policy. It's the first thing that Arab governments, the first thing the Palestinians in the territories -- whose situation is really quite desperate -- raise with us when we talk to them."

The Secretary added: "The Arabs and the Palestinians, of course, argue that this proves that the Israeli Government is not interested in negotiating outcomes, but it's really interested in creating facts on the ground. And it substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process, and creates quite a predicament." Extra Efforts, Baker Says

Mr. Baker said he had raised this point any number of times with the Israeli leadership but "to no avail."

The Secretary said he even tried to arrange a deal between Israel and her Arab neighbors, whereby the Arabs would suspend either their boycott of Israel or their state of belligerency in return for Israel's suspending settlements. He was rebuffed by both the Israelis and the Arabs, he said.

"I have about decided that we're not going to get any movement on settlement activity before we have an active peace process going, and it's going to be just that much more difficult to get a peace process going if we can't get any action on settlement activity," Mr. Baker said.

Just saying ...

Those poor kids

by digby

Mother Jones talked to the millennial conservatives at CPAC. It's just ...

[T]he candidate who aroused the most intense enthusiasm was Ben Carson. Evan, a 17-year old proudly wearing a "Run Ben Run" sticker on his lapel, was effusive in his praise. "He's not run by lobbyists," he said. "His policies are going to be what he believes in…he has integrity." A group of college students relaxing on couches in the expo hall agreed that if the GOP wants to win in 2016, Carson needs to be a factor. "I love Ben," said Blake, a college student from Illinois. Carson is, he said, "the Ben Franklin of our time." Others in the circle agreed: "Ben Carson is almost too smart" for the American voters to truly understand him, another student said. An idea began to form: what about Carson as VP, and Walker as president? The group howled in approval: "Yaaaass!"
"This is my first time here," said a 20-year-old College Republican. "But I heard it's easier to get laid at CPAC than on spring break."

Those poor, poor kids ...


It's amazing how much he has lied about

by digby

It's pretty much everything at this point:

One evening in March more than 30 years ago, Gaeton Fonzi received a call from a man whose voice and name are now instantly recognizable.

"Hi Gaeton," the caller said. "Bill O'Reilly."

The year was 1977. O'Reilly, a young television reporter in Dallas, was chasing a story about a figure in the investigation of the JFK assassination who had killed himself in Florida.
He was calling Fonzi, a congressional investigator, to confirm the suicide.

"You hear anything about it?" O'Reilly asked, according to phone recordings provided to CNN by Gaeton's widow, Marie Fonzi.

The phone recordings indicate that O'Reilly learned of the suicide second-hand and was in a different location at the time.

Years later, however, O'Reilly would repeatedly claim to have been at the scene.

In his 2012 book "Killing Kennedy," O'Reilly wrote that he knocked on the door of a South Florida home when suddenly he "heard the shotgun blast that marked the suicide" of George de Mohrenschildt, a Russian immigrant who knew Lee Harvey Oswald.

While promoting the book, O'Reilly said on Fox News that he "was about to knock on the door" when de Mohrenschildt "blew his brains out with a shotgun."

The discrepancies were first reported by JFK researcher Jefferson Morley in 2013. His fact-checking didn't get much attention at the time, and the low-quality recordings he posted on his website made it difficult to understand what O'Reilly and Fonzi were saying.

Earlier this week, amid scrutiny about how O'Reilly has recounted some of his journalistic exploits, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America drew new attention to Morley's fact-checking.

CNN then obtained higher-quality recordings from Fonzi's widow.

In the conversations with Fonzi that night in 1977, O'Reilly never once indicated he was anywhere near the scene of the suicide -- much less that he heard the fatal gunshot.

On the call, O'Reilly initially tried to confirm the suicide.

"What's the story?" O'Reilly asked.

"They don't know," Fonzi said.

"Nobody knows," O'Reilly replied.

O'Reilly can also be heard detailing his travel plans. Although he never said where he was calling from, O'Reilly made it clear where he was not.

"I'm coming down there tomorrow," he said. "I'm coming to Florida."

Moments later, he elaborated on his itinerary.

"Now, okay, I'm gonna try to get a night flight out of here, if I can," O'Reilly told Fonzi. "But I might have to go tomorrow morning. Let me see."

Fox News declined to comment on the contradiction in O'Reilly's accounts. The channel referred questions to a spokesperson for Henry Holt, the publisher of O'Reilly's book.

Earlier this week the publisher said "we fully stand behind Bill O'Reilly."

"This one passage is immaterial to the story being told by this terrific book and we have no plans to look into this matter," Henry Holt added.

At what point is it clear that he is not just a bombastic pundit but a pathological liar?

And at what point does Fox have to deal with this? Ever?  Isn't it time for people to start asking the allegedly straight reporters Brett Baier, Ed Henry and Chris Wallace what they think about this?
Will the Supremes put another nail in their coffin?

by digby

Just in case you weren't aware of it, here's the background on this typo case coming before the Supreme Court this week to dismantle the subsidies in the federal ACA exchange:

Shortly after the A.C.A. passed, in 2010, a group of conservative lawyers met at a conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, and scoured the nine-hundred-page text of the law, looking for grist for possible lawsuits. Michael Greve, a board member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian outfit funded by, among others, the Koch brothers, said, of the law, “This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene. I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart, whether we tar and feather it and drive it out of town, whether we strangle it.” In time, lawyers hired by the C.E.I. discovered four words buried in Section 36B, which refers to the exchanges—now known as marketplaces—where people can buy health-insurance policies. The A.C.A. created federal tax subsidies for those earning less than a certain income to help pay for their premiums and other expenses, and, in describing who is eligible, Section 36B refers to exchanges “established by the State.” However, thirty-four states, most of them under Republican control, refused to create exchanges; for residents of such states, the law had established a federal exchange. But, according to the conjurings of the C.E.I. attorneys, the subsidies should be granted only to people who bought policies on the state exchanges, because of those four words in Section 36B. The lawyers recruited plaintiffs and filed a lawsuit; their goal is to revoke the subsidies provided to the roughly seven and a half million people who were left no choice by the states where they live but to buy on the federal exchange.

Also too: these same lawyers heavily lobbied the Republican states not to build exchanges.

This case will rank up there with Bush vs Gore which means most people assume the court will not do it. But everyone assumed that they would never rule the way they did on Bush vs Gore.


Sunday Funnies

by digby

I love that "guess who almost has WMDs now!"

It reminds me of that famous (perhaps apocryphal) quote from an unnamed neocon Bush official: "Anyone can go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran."


QOTD[ecades]: John Kerry

by digby

Kerry on ISIS 2015:
it is on a “rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane and Genghis Khan.”
Kerry on US 1971:
"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."


See PAC run scared

by Tom Sullivan

It's important to be a victim these days and, boy howdy, they do it right at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD.

Raw Story's Tony Ortega reports on a panel titled, "Religious Freedom in America: Would the Pilgrims Still Be Welcome Here?" Conservative columnist Cal Thomas, Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins seemed to agree with talk radio host Dana Loesch that it's "a badge of honor to be persecuted" and that Christians in this country should be a protected class:

“And since we have the victim competition in the United States,” Loesch added, “I think we win.”

And thus a religious super majority in America transubstantiates itself into a persecuted minority. Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect, as Tom Lehrer sings.

But it's men, really, who are most persecuted. Why, "feminist ideologues and gay marriage supporters" want to make men irrelevant:

It’s going to be hard to argue that “fathers are essential” if gay-marriage laws say “they are optional,” said Jennifer A. Marshall, vice president for the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation.

At “The Future of Marriage” panel, the Washington Times reports, Marshall called gay marriage the “final nail in the coffin” in the fight against fatherless homes. (Presumably, two-father homes violate code.) And just yesterday, I thought "being picked last in gym class" was their biggest motivating fear.

The Guardian's Jeb Lund offers a more satirical take on the marriage panel, observing that political movements can seem "nonsensical to outsiders because groupthink elides the needs for certain connective thoughts to be voiced aloud." We know who the good guys are and that the bad guys are bad. It goes without saying (and does) that effects have causes. There's no point wasting time demonstrating what they are.

Yet, even thorny conservative social issues ultimately come down to money. It was just a matter of time. Lund writes:

... Wade Horn, former assistant secretary for children and families, weighed in with the observation that marriages save money and diversify productivity because “marriages allow for economies of scale and specialization” within the household. (For those scoring economies of scale at home, presumably because specialization has made one of you an actuary: economies of scale good when you are married to someone; bad when buying prescription drugs for nations.) When your bridesmaids give you bewildered looks at the altar, point at your groom and cross their eyes while miming throwing up, just hold your hands apart to show how much he scales your economy.

To a cynic, that might read like a heartless thought. But do you know what’s really heartless? Government. “Children need their mothers and fathers. There is no government program that can possibly substitute for the love and guidance and sense of place in the world that parents provide,” MacDonald explained. “What we’re seeing now in the inner city is catastrophic. Marriage has all but disappeared. When young boys are growing up, they grow up without any expectation that they will marry the mothers of their children.” And she’s right; people who think government will love you or your abandoned children are idiots. The Department of Love has been a failure since 1967, and large faceless institutions will never care for human beings no matter how well they claim to mean. Those “inner city” people shouldn’t have been trying to hug America. They should have hugged something more practical like each other and that smiley face from Wal-Mart.

If only those people were less urban. So it goes.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies

The beginning of wisdom: What I learned from Mr. Spock

By Dennis Hartley

In my review of J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise, I wrote:

Gene Roddenberry’s universally beloved creation has become so ingrained into our pop culture and the collective subconscious of Boomers […] that the producers of the latest installment didn’t have to entitle it with a qualifier. It’s not Star Trek: Origins, or Star Trek: 2009. It’s just Star Trek. They could have just as well called it Free Beer, judging from the $80,000,000 it has rung up at the box office already.

This likely explains the prodigious outpouring of sentiment regarding Leonard Nimoy’s passing. And this is not emanating solely from the geekier sectors of the blogosphere, but from such bastions of traditional journalism as The New York Times, which duly noted:

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper”.

Of course, my “logical” half is well aware that this “unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan” was a fictional creation, in reality a nice Jewish boy from Boston (“Lenny” to his friends) who was only playing a half-human, half-alien science officer on a silly sci-fi TV show. By all accounts, Nimoy was an engaging and generous human being, who devoted off-screen time to political and social causes. Fellow Star Trek alumnus George Takei made an appearance on MSNBC’s All In on Friday with some touching insights on this aspect.

But back to the pointy-eared gentleman, an early and critical role model for me as a child. Keep in mind, at the time of the TV show’s initial run (1966), I was all of 10 years old. Also, note that I was kind of a weird 10 year-old. I wasn’t that keen on hanging out with kids my age; I always had an easier time relating to elders (my best friend at the time was 13). To me, children were silly, immature creatures; I generally found their behavior to be quite “illogical” (believe me…it took years to de-evolve into the silly man-child I am today; to quote Bob Dylan, “Ah, but I was much older then, I’m younger than that now”).

While many of my little friends thought he was the shit, cocky Captain Kirk never did it for me (I’ve always had an issue with authority figures, not to mention that whole alpha male thing). But I could relate to Mr. Spock. I think he appealed to my own sense of “otherness”. Also, like Mr. Spock, I’m a “halfsie” (my parents might as well have been from different planets-a Jewish girl from Brooklyn and a Protestant farm boy from Ohio).

But that’s my personal take. I think Spock’s mass appeal stems from a universal recognition of the inherent duality within us all. When it comes to love and war, the constant vacillation between our logical and emotional selves is the very definition of human nature, nest’-ce pas? This is best demonstrated by the very human Mr. Nimoy himself, who once decried “I am not Spock” in his eponymous 1975 autobiography, only to recant that, oh, wait… “I am Spock” with his follow-up memoir 20 years on. Perhaps he’d had time to ponder something his own character once said: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” And, as it does to us all, this one particular epiphany came tagging along with age, finally presenting itself in the fullness of time: We are all Spock.

They're standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona

by digby

So a journalist writes a letter to the FBI asking if there are any terror investigations in Arizona. The FBI responds with this:
"As a member of the United States intelligence community, the FBI in conjunction with representatives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force is actively engaged in protecting the nation from acts of terrorism."
The journalist writes this story:
In an email to 12 News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Phoenix confirmed there are active investigations in Arizona focused on ISIS supporters and associated home-grown violent extremists.
And then proceeds to write a paranoid scare story that implied Arizona is a hotbed of terrorist activity and that Arizonans are particularly vulnerable:

Arizona has seen its share of attacks on people from this state from the fall 2014 beheading of journalist and former Phoenix school teacher James Foley to the 2015 killing of Prescott international aid worker Kayla Mueller while held captive by ISIS. Both killings occurred in Syria.

Arizona has a history of incubating Middle Eastern terrorists. In July 2001, FBI Agent Ken Williams sent a memo warning that there were an unusual number of Muslim extremists learning to fly in Arizona. But the memo was cast aside.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, it was later determined hijackers received flight training at schools in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma.

FBI Special Agent Perryn Collier sent the email to 12 News as a response to an inquiry following FBI Director James Comey's comments on Wednesday that the FBI has investigations in all 50 states.

Collier would not elaborate on the number and nature of the current investigations within the state of Arizona. He said doing so would adversely jeopardize ongoing efforts to detect, deter and prevent terrorist acts.

Which means, of course, that an attack on Arizona is imminent and everyone should run for their lives. (Well, the report doesn't say that specifically but you'd be foolish not to read between the lines.)

And by the way, Comey is helping to gin up the paranoia. These local and state officials get very excited everytime he makes one of these speeches.

Liars and thugs. With badges.

by digby

One man against the mob and the members of the mob are cops:
One of the worst days of Douglas Dendinger’s life began with him handing an envelope to a police officer.

In order to help out his family and earn a quick $50, Dendinger agreed to act as a process server, giving a brutality lawsuit filed by his nephew to Chad Cassard as the former Bogalusa police officer exited the Washington Parish Courthouse.

The handoff went smoothly, but Dendinger said the reaction from Cassard, and a group of officers and attorneys clustered around him, turned his life upside down.

“It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest.” Dendinger, 47, recalled. “They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me. Right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”

Not knowing what to make of the blow-up, a puzzled Dendinger drove home. That’s where things went from bad to worse.

“Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car.”

“And that’s when the nightmare started,” he said. “I was arrested.”

He was not only arrested, he was also charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. A prior drug charge on his record meant he was potentially looking at decades in prison. Seven witnesses backed up the police account that Dendinger had assaulted Cassard.

But Dendinger had asked his wife and nephew to record him serving the papers. It was a last minute decision, but one that may have saved him his freedom.

From what can be seen on the clips, Dendinger never touches Cassard, who calmly takes the envelope and walks back into the courthouse, handing [prosecutor Leigh Anne] Wall the envelope.

“He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film,” said David Cressy, a friend of Dendinger who once served as a prosecutor under [former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter] Reed. “It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”

Dendinger spent nearly a year waiting for trial, racking up attorney’s fees. As a disabled Army veteran on a fixed income, Dendinger said the case stretched him financially, but in his eyes, he was fighting for his life.

After nearly a year passed, his attorneys forced Reed to recuse his office. The case was referred to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which promptly dropped the charges.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission and himself a former prosecutor, studied the videos. He did not hesitate in his assessment.

“I didn’t see a battery, certainly a battery committed that would warrant criminal charges,” Goyeneche said. “And more importantly, the attorney general’s office didn’t see a battery.”
None of the liars are facing charges.

And then there's this horrific story from Attica prison that will make your hair stand on end. In that case it took a nurse who felt incompetent to treat a prisoner's nearly mortal wounds at the hands of guards sending that prisoner to a real hospital for the story to see the light of day.

This is why we people need to maintain skepticism about the government use of police power. Sure, most people who do that tough job are decent and honest. But there are enough who are either psychos or subject to peer pressure that allowing free rein is an invitation to abuse. These system perpetuate themselves and it's very difficult for any individual to fight for their rights against it.

I keep hearing police commentators say that you have to do whatever a police officer tells you and if they violated your rights you can contest that later. I find that a very chilling --- and unfortunately common --- point of view. It's nearly always an accident of fate that anyone can effectively contest the government when it catches you in its maw.

Surveillance epiphany

by digby

You will never guess who said this in a million years:

"In a free society, we don't require people to organize their lives in a way that makes life easier for law enforcement"

Daniel Ellsberg? Glenn Greenwald? Nope:

After the Snowden leaks, [Michael Chertoff] continued to support NSA mass surveillance. But, on encryption, Chertoff, now a private practice lawyer and consultant, has changed his tune so drastically that he’s expressly at odds with the intelligence world. He says everyone should have a right to encryption—nearly everyone he’s worked for doesn’t.

In fact, earlier this week, NSA chief Mike Rogers ​came out against encryption, joining his ​colleagues at the FBI and ​Justice Department, and even ​President Obama, who have all said that law enforcement should have backdoors or a "golden key" to be able to break encrypted communications when necessary.

Intelligence agencies say that they think it's possible to create a system in which companies like Apple or Google—which are both moving toward using encrypted messaging as a standard for all users on iOS and Android—would have to decrypt text messages when served with a warrant. Cryptological experts say that’s impossible: Vulnerabilities can be exploited, either by the NSA or by hackers or foreign governments.

Chertoff told me he sides with the crypto world: Consumers should have access to strong, uncompromising encryption without backdoors.

"I'm sympathetic to law enforcement, but nevertheless I've come to the conclusion that requiring network managers or ISPs to retain a key that would allow them to decrypt data moving back and forth on a particular device is not something the government should require," he said. "If you require companies to manage a network to retain a key to decrypt, I guarantee you another provider will allow someone else in the world to have that key. What happens is, honest people will have a key to encrypted data that's held by a third party. As we've seen in the past, that can lead to problems."

Interestingly, he's siding with the traitor Edward Snowden on this one who believes that technology to allow encryption is one of the ways we can best protect our privacy.

We don't know why Chertoff is taking this position. The logical assumption is that he's representing clients who are on that side of the argument. Or maybe he's had an epiphany. It's interesting either way. This is yet another of the battles of the corporations, like net neutrality. These companies have a stake in being able to ensure their customers aren't being monitored against their will. It's kind of a shame that we can't win these issues on constitutional and democratic principle but I guess it's better than nothing ...

QOTD: A coupla Republicans

by digby

Peter King:

“I’ve head it with this self-righteous, delusional wing of the party.”

Ted Cruz:

“You’ll recall all the Washington graybeards went on television and said [the shutdown] would mean Harry Reid stays on as majority leader. Well, how did that work out?”


There goes that liberal media again

by digby

... with the gotcha questions for Scott Walker:

It could have been worse.  Rand Paul he would have shushed the kid.

h/t to Mike Stark

Prosperity vs. being picked last in gym class

by Tom Sullivan

Demos research associate Sean McElwee's post this week reviews economic research showing that "Democrats make the pie bigger for everyone, while Republicans redistribute income toward the rich and whites." But you already knew that. Still, McElwee's link-filled column at Aljazeera compiles a lot of supporting studies in one convenient location.

Examining changes in poverty, unemployment and income under every president since 1948, political scientists Zoltan Hajnal and Jeremy Horowitz found that blacks, Latinos and Asians fare better under Democratic presidents. But so do whites:

“Put simply: However measured, blacks made consistent gains under Democratic presidents and suffered regular losses under Republicans,” the authors said. While there’s limited data, the findings hold true for Latinos and Asians.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found that for the same period, "gross domestic product, employment, corporate profits and productivity grew faster under Democrats than Republicans." Income too — contrary to shrieks by Republican flacks that if their opponents are elected, Democratic Dorothys will throw buckets of water on all their beautiful wickedness.

On a more local level, US Uncut's Carl Gibson details how under governor Mark Dayton's Democratic policies have treated Minnesota. Gibson writes:

Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota's economy -- that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average, and their median income is still $8,000 more than the U.S. average today.

By late 2013, Minnesota's private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state's economy was the 5th fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the 9th-best state for business (Scott Walker's "Open For Business" Wisconsin came in at a distant #32 on the same list). Despite the fearmongering over businesses fleeing from Dayton's tax cuts, 6,230 more Minnesotans filed in the top income tax bracket in 2013, just one year after Dayton's tax increases went through. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota's economic confidence is higher than any other state

Dayton's GOP adversaries, of course, warned that billionaire Dayton's plans to raise taxes would offend "the job creators." (Luckily, there are no volcanoes in Minnesota, or the Job Creators would demand virgins.)

What caught my attention most was this from McElwee:

Similarly, in absolute terms, whites do better under Democratic than under Republican leadership. But that doesn’t really matter. People weigh their well-being relative to those around them. There is strong evidence that whites often oppose actions against inequality because of “last place aversion,” the desire to ensure that there is a class of people below oneself. Among white voters, racial bias is strongly correlated with lower support of redistributive programs. For example, research shows that opposition to welfare is driven by racial anger. Approximately half of the difference between social spending in the U.S. and Europe can be explained by racial animosity.

Chronic lefty complaints about working-class whites "voting against their best interests" has long set my teeth on edge. Born of frustration, it's just an intellectual-sounding way of calling them stupid, and no way to win friends and influence voters. Voters see right through it. Besides, progressives don't really want them voting what's best for No. 1. But last-place aversion (a term I've not seen before) offers an alternate explanation for why, in spite of the economic data above, many working-class whites vote Republican. President Lyndon Johnson long ago demonstrated an intuitive understanding of last-place aversion as one element of the Republicans' Southern Strategy:

If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.

Two of McElwee's links go to Stanford studies suggesting how last-place aversion explains why, for example, "individuals making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase." (Last-place aversion, by the way, holds "for both whites and minorities.") It works like this (emphasis mine):

By the logic developed in the above evolutionary models, not only would humans care about relative position in general but a strong aversion to being near last place would arise because in a monogamous society with roughly balanced sex-ratios, only those at the very bottom would not marry or reproduce. Indeed, being “picked last in gym class” is so often described as a child’s worst fear that the expression has become a cliché.

That explains a lot.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A beautiful final thought

by digby

His last tweet:

Rand's tell

by digby

Once again, anyone who thinks that Rand Paul is a bulwark against foreign adventurism needs to think again:
[T]he contrast between Paul’s bold pronouncements and his inability to answer direct questions was stark. He was eloquent, and somewhat convincing, when he explained that the U.S. can’t fight wars everywhere. But when Couric asked him directly whether he thinks the president should send ground troops back to Iraq, he bobbed and weaved. 
“I don’t believe in any absolute prescription against them,” he told her, adding, “I’m not ready to send millions of troops around the world.” At another point he coyly allowed “we already have [sent some ground troops], and I have not objected to it.” He went on: “I think it’s a mistake to put a half a million troops in there,” and Couric interrupted. “I’m not even asking you for a number…” 
He didn’t quite shush her, but he got irritated, “I’m trying to answer the question, so you gotta let me answer the question.” In the end, we learned he would arm the Kurds to fight ISIS, and create a new Kurdistan out of parts of Iraq and Syria. Although how he’s going to get a piece of Syria without ground troops toppling Bashar al-Assad went unasked and unanswered.
Paul has a tell. He gets angry at his interlocutors when he's fumbling for a way to finesse an internal contradiction and his stalling is questioned.

I'm a little surprised that he's not just being upfront about his libertarian views on national security. The assumption was that he was running to advance his agenda and build a libertarian coalition in the party. But apparently, he believes he actually has a chance to be president which is ridiculous. And it's making him try to thread a needle that can't be threaded.  The GOP is a war party and has been for more than 70 years. It's not changing.  The best he can hope for is to form a coalition with anti-war Democrats and civil libertarians of both parties to affect some incremental change.  But unless he goes full-on shrieking warhawk, he's not going to be president. And even then, it's unlikely.



by digby

Earlier this week I wrote a piece for Salon about the history of the "gotcha" question and Scott Walker's recent problems in dealing with them:

[T]here has probably never been a more clear-cut case of “gotcha” than the Gary Hart-Donna Rice episode. Hart was the presumptive front-runner for the presidential nomination and widely considered to be the intellectual leader of the new Democratic Party. As relayed in this fascinating recitation of the events, the press knew Hart was having a relationship with Rice and clumsily staked out his house, unwittingly revealing themselves to the candidate. Hart didn’t know they had been tipped off to the relationship with Rice and stepped outside to confront them:

Hart may have surprised the reporters by choosing the time and place for their confrontation, but it’s not as if they weren’t ready. They had conferred on a list of questions intended to back Hart up against a wall — which was now literally the situation.

McGee reminded Hart that he and the woman had walked right past McGee earlier that evening on the way to his car. “You passed me on the street,” McGee said.

“I may or may not have,” Hart replied.

McGee asked him what his relationship was with the woman.

“I’m not involved in any relationship,” Hart said carefully.

So why had they just seen Hart and the woman enter the townhouse together a few minutes earlier?

“The obvious reason is I’m being set up,” Hart said …

And so it went. A picture of Hart and Rice on the boat called “Monkey Business” was eventually published and the rest is gotcha history.

But as you can see, the definition of the gotcha has undergone a subtle change over the years. Where it was once thought to be a question about their personal life or history designed to embarrass the candidate with the mere insinuation, today’s gotcha is almost always a question rudely designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of the issues and skill in navigating treacherous political controversies. (They can thank George W. Bush and Sarah Palin for that — they made it obvious these tests were necessary.)

Walker is using all this to set himself up in opposition to the "liberal media" and that may carry him for a while with the hard core base. But he's hurting himself badly with the establishment and probably with some of the donors for whom he's competing with Bush, Rubio and Christie. He's not quite as bad as Palin, but I think he might be as bad as W. Unfortunately we've proved that's not a disqualifier for the office ...
Kicks just keep getting harder to find

by digby

So the word is that CPAC is much less looney this year than it's been in the past. Apparently the new Koch supported organizers have cracked the whip and banished the purveyors of products like these from former conventions to the farthest corners of the convention:

This is what the new CPAC looks like:


Lying Pantsuit Lady

by Gaius Publius

I've written quite a bit (for example, here) about the spokesperson in the ubiquitous American Petroleum Institute (API) ads. She's almost an institution, the way "Flo," the spokesperson for Progressive Insurance, is an institution. I've called the API actress "Lying Pantsuit Lady" for a reason. She's omnipresent, like carbon and the lies she tells defending it.

Here she is now, saying America is number one (in planet destruction). The lie? She talks like that's a good thing.

American Petroleum Institute's Brooke Alexander, their trademark Pantsuit Lady

I've so far resisted putting her face in my posts, not from a tender interest in the fact that she's providing for her family (yes, she has one) by helping bake the planet to a golden brown, but because I can't find an online version of her most striking ad, the one I call Carbon Blackmail. Its message goes like this:
Brooke Alexander (paraphrased): "Like that TV–iPad lifestyle you're living? Want to keep it? Oil is part of the mix that brings it to you, along with wind and solar, of course." 
See? Blackmail. The underlying message is this:
"If we don't stop the carbon, we'll start exiting modern life in 30 years. But that's 30 years away, and if we do stop, you won't like the result.

"So how about this — we keep burning carbon, you keep your Breaking Bad and your ESPN, and we'll add some soothing solar to the mix. It's a tough choice, right? No carbon and less TV for a while, or carbon till you die, and then who cares? We choose number two. Deal?"
Unfortunately, that one's not a lie. The geniuses at API understand the situation perfectly, better than most Americans, in fact. If you find a YouTube version of this ad, please send me a link.

But this will suffice to present her to you, since she and API have a new ad that's almost as bad. I'm calling this "America, King of Carbon." Watch, then I'll show you the lies:

About the lies, here are the two big ones:
Hydraulic fracturing technology is safely recovering lots more oil and natural gas.
That one's obvious. Fracking is safe? And:
Hydraulic fracturing technology is ... supporting a new century of American energy security.
That one's less obvious, but if we don't get a grip on the climate problem, neither America nor China will have a "new century" in which they're energy-secure. Nor will either be a single country, but at some point will have broken apart into civilized zones and wandering hunter-gatherer zones. In America's case, you can't rule the West Coast from the East Coast across a chaotic middle. In China's case, much of their "breadbasket" will be under water, and there are many regions to the south and west that are streaked with valleys, gorges and ravines. That break-apart situation has already happened once to them.

(By the way, did you notice that the American flag in the ad's second shot is a child's chalk drawing? That's a third lie if you think about it, the suggestion that promoting carbon is good for your five-year-old.)

Lying Pantsuit Lady, "LPL," a modern American icon. She stands for all that destroys us, and she stands for it proudly and well. She's been with us a long time (as has "Flo") and for a reason. She's that good.

Remember our LPL. I'm sure she'll come up again in these pages. I hope her son, and his daughter after him, enjoy their adult lives as much as she apparently enjoys hers. Carbon dollars are still dollars, you know. I'm glad for her success; it really is hard to make it as a non-star actor in Hollywood, and her career is long and filled with soaps. In Hollywood terms, LPL is the role of a lifetime, a Big Break.

But I'm also sorry for her effect, and I do think she bears a responsibility, similar to Henry "Reverse Mortgage" Winkler. Some things should not be promoted.


Make history in Chicago

by digby

This letter went out to our Blue America members this morning:

Be A Part of The History Being Made in Chicago

By Rick Perlstein

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about how a hydra-headed protest movement against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s agenda of privatization, austerity, and authoritarian governance was changing the face of politics in the Windy City. Now, it’s close to achieving a miracle: ending Rahm Emanuel’s political career once and for all.

In the first round of Chicago’s mayoral election on February 24th, Rahm Emanuel came a shocking five points shy of the 50 percent he needed to win reelection outright-- performing three points shy of the final pre-election polls. Chicagoans, it seems have had it up to here with Rahm’s crusade to build a new, more durable Chicago machine-- this one, though, headquartered in places like Wall Street (where Emanuel worked as an investment banker), Abu Dhabi (the oil kingdom whose “sovereign wealth fund” owns a third of Chicago’s parking meter concession), and Philadelphia (home of the services corporation Aramark, which after being awarded the janitorial franchise left Chicago’s public schools crawling with vermin, and responded by firing a quarter of their workforce.)

It happened despite a Karl Rove-style campaign funded by $30 million in donations from corporate interests in return for favors from the city. It was a people-powered miracle. But we’re only halfway there.

On April 6-- in less than six weeks!-- Rahm faces off against the second place finisher, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia , who is another people-powered miracle: a true reformer, compassionate, smart, and qualified. As an alderman he fought so hard against the machine that Mayor Richard M. Daley made kicking him off the city council a top political priority. The same thing happened when he served in Springfield as a state senator.

Now, as a county commissioner, he helped balance Cook County’s mess of a budget while lowering taxes. Me, I love the guy. I’m backing his campaign to the hilt. I hope you will too. We really, really need you on this one. In the first round, Mayor 1% outspent Garcia by an almost twelve to one margin. And still he couldn’t get enough votes to win. Imagine how well he could do if the financial gap was closed a bit?

Here’s the deal. All Blue America donors to Chuy’s campaign will be entered in a random drawing. One lucky winner with get a very collectible, RIAA-certified quadruple platinum for the Barenaked Ladies album, Stunt.

Twenty other randomly chosen winners will get a personally signed copy of one of my books, either Nixonland, or my latest, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

And, of course, the satisfaction of helping deal a historic setback to everything that is awful in Democratic Party politics right now, in the person of the man who (1) was Bill Clinton’s point man in passing the North American Free Trade Act (2) made $18 million in two and a half years as an influence peddler on Wall Street (3) Presided over a crusade to kneecap the campaigns of progressive populists as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (4) as White House chief of staff, tried to convince President Obama not to pursue the Affordable Care Act; and as mayor-- well, hell, I could run these numbers clean up to thirty or forty.

He needs to go. We have a genuine chance to make it happen. Act now or forever hold your peace!!

In solidarity,

Rick Perlstein,
John Amato
Howie Klein

Yet another lie

by digby

At this point I think people ought to be questioning whether any story Bill O'Reilly ever told about his intrepid reporting days is true:
O’Reilly has on several occasions referred to a perilous situation he said that he endured while covering the riots in Los Angeles for Inside Edition, the syndicated news magazine show that he fronted between 1989 and 1995.

“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly told an online interviewer in 2006. “Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Earlier this week, he told the broadcaster Hugh Hewitt: “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.”[...]

Inside Edition colleagues from the time who were in Los Angeles with O’Reilly – reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil Antin – told the Guardian that they did not recall such an incident.

Kirkham, the show’s lead reporter on the riots, was adamant that it did not take place. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”

Tonya Freeman, the head of the show’s library at the time, said: “I honestly don’t recall watching or hearing about that. I believe I probably would have remembered something like that.” Another librarian from the time also said she did not recall the incident. A spokeswoman for Inside Edition declined to comment. Several other senior Inside Edition staffers from the time declined to comment when asked if they recalled O’Reilly’s version of events.

Several members of the team, however, recalled that one afternoon in the days following the peak of the riots, which began on 29 April, the angry resident attacked a camera while O’Reilly was being filmed near the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Pico Boulevard. “It was one person with one rock,” said McCall, the sound man. “Nobody was hit.”

“A man came out of his home,” said Antin, who was operating the camera that was struck. “He picked up a chunk of concrete, and threw it at the camera.” Told of O’Reilly’s description of a bombardment, Antin said: “I don’t think that’s really … No, I mean no, not where we were.”[...]

McKeown, the director of west coast operations, and Kirkham, said O’Reilly had in the moments beforehand irritated residents who were trying to put out fires and clear wreckage. A seventh member of the team, who declined to be quoted for this article, agreed with this characterisation of the incident.

“There were people putting out fires nearby,” said McKeown. “And Bill showed up in his fancy car.” McKeown said at one point, the driver of O’Reilly’s personal car risked causing further offence by exiting the vehicle with a bottle of Windex and polishing the roof.

“The guy was watching us and getting more and more angry,” said McKeown. “Bill was being Bill – complaining ‘people are in my eye line’ – and kind of being very insensitive to the situation.” Kirkham said: “It was just so out of line. He starts barking commands about ‘this isn’t good enough for me’, ‘this isn’t gonna work’, ‘who’s in charge here?’”

The man shouted abuse at O’Reilly and the team, crew members said, and O’Reilly ordered him to shut up. He asked “don’t you know who I am?’,” according to two members of the team.

“The guy lost it,” said McKeown.

Bill? He wouldn't do that...

Think about this: he even lied about his experiences at Inside Edition.



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