There are a couple of inches of oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and scientists think it will take a decade before the full effect of the spill is known. Yet BP is whining about the terms of the settlement, even though Feinberg is basing his math on a recovery by 2012.
It isn’t just PBS and Planned Parenthood, btw- they are also after Americorps.
At some point, people need to recognize that we are dealing with dangerous radicals, and there literally is nothing they care about other than what you do with your vagina, making the baby Jeeebus happy, and how they can amass more wealth for their corporate masters.
I don’t agree with Andrew on the issue of public sector unions at all but at least this post is a good deal more measured than many of his recent efforts. It’s also revealing of a certain mindset that I think a lot of Americans share.
I will try to explain how I see the situation. Here are the talking points you hear from many libertarians and conservatives, in no particular order:
1) The government is out of money, and we need to cut spending or future generations will suffer.
2) Austerity should be for everyone, not just private-sector workers.
3) We cannot raise taxes – even on the rich despite their inordinate wealth and not on corporations despite their extraordinary return to profitability during the jobless recovery.
4) Public-sector workers have unsustainable wages and benefits. They need to be brought in line with the rest of us by whatever means necessary.
5) Union-busting is just democracy in action. Protesting is ridiculous. The Republicans won, deal with it.
6) Passing health-care legislation is tyranny. Tea-party protests are democracy in action. Democrats won, but it’s our duty to obstruct them at every turn.
So this hodge-podge of talking points spins an oddly appealing yarn for many Americans. We must all pull together to sacrifice – but not by raising revenue or taxing those who can afford to be taxed, but rather by laying off public sector workers (since private-sector workers have already been laid off) and cutting back their benefits (since private-sector workers had to have their wages and benefits cut) and busting their unions (because that’s what we did to the private sector). The government is out of money, so we must all tighten our belts. Or, rather, those Americans who depend on public services must tighten their belts. The fabulously rich get a free lunch and are sent on their merry way, lugging along piles of cash and a much more productive workforce thanks to the ever-looming threat of double-digit unemployment.
Meanwhile, as John pointed out earlier, the first wave of 401k retirees is facing a serious crisis. This should come as no surprise. But context is especially important. At the same time that we’re discovering that the 401k model is unsound, we’re also seeing a concerted effort to attack the last bastion not just of unionism in this country, but of pension-based retirement plans. And the even larger picture, if we zoom out a few hundred feet or so higher, is that this is an attack on the middle class and on the future of the middle class in America. Not just on the public sector, but on the entire middle class, private sector included (though those battles have largely already been fought, and the middle class has lost them one by one).
The facts of the incident that sparked all this are now fairly clear. Davis, in a rental car, was driving around in Lahore in areas where foreigners scarcely ever venture, tailed by two ISI auxiliaries on a motorbike. After an hour or more of trying to shake them off, they both came abreast at a stoplight. He pulled out a gun and, firing through his windscreen, shot them both. Accounts differ as to whether they made any threatening gesture, but one was killed as he was trying to run away.
The backup van that Davis called for came roaring up the wrong way on a one-way street, ran over a cyclist, killing him, then turned around and roared off. Davis was arrested, and weapons, ammo and other paraphernalia were found in the car. On his cell phone were numbers that were later traced to phones in the tribal belt where the Taliban operate, while his camera had pictures of religious schools and military sites…
Hat tip to commentor Gen. Stuck for a link to the Guardian‘s latest update:
American who sparked diplomatic crisis over Lahore shooting was CIA spy
… Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.
Poor old John Kerry, described as Obama’s “chief diplomatic troubleshooter”, got sent to Islamabad to fetch “our diplomat” Davis home. That didn’t work, although the Guardian suggests elsewhere that three embassy employees (the ones who failed to rescue Davis but did succeed in running over an innocent cyclist) were spirited back to the US on Kerry’s plane. The government of Pakistan, fearful of “Egyptian-style protests”, has announced that it needs until March 14 to decide whether David is entitled to diplomatic immunity.
Washington’s case is hobbled by its resounding silence on Davis’s role. He served in the US special forces for 10 years before leaving in 2003 to become a security contractor. A senior Pakistani official said he believed Davis had worked with Xe, the firm formerly known as Blackwater. […] __
A number of US media outlets learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration. A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection after speaking to Davis’s wife. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government. […] __
A senior ISI official denied the dead men worked for the spy agency but admitted the CIA relationship had been damaged. “We are a sovereign country and if they want to work with us, they need to develop a trusting relationship on the basis of equality. Being arrogant and demanding is not the way to do it,” he said.
Complete recap of the story to date, replete with cinematic detail, at the Guardian “Special Report: A CIA spy, a hail of bullets, three killed and a US-Pakistan diplomatic row“.
… Press coverage zings with unlikely stories about Davis – that he howls in his prison cells when the five-times daily call to prayer rings out; that the CIA plans a “Hollywood-style heist” to spring him; that he is the linchpin of the CIA’s drone programme.
One popular suggestion has it that Davis should be swapped for Aafia Siddiqui, the US-educated neuroscientist jailed for 86 years in 2010 on charges of attempting to kill American soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan.
(Thanks to commentors Par4 and Sharl for the original SST link.) Of course, anything that involves the wounded dignity of a religiously divided and economically struggling nation-state with access to a nuclear arsenal has to be taken seriously… and then there’s Pakistan’s national pride, as well. But I’m still seeing Mr. Davis as less Matt Damon/Jason Bourne and more Will Ferrell…
Since Kay is busy organizing in Ohio (Ohio residents, check that post!), she graciously gave me permission to post another update on the Pennsylvania judge caught using hapless local teenagers as a profit center:
SCRANTON, Pa. – A former juvenile court judge was convicted Friday of racketeering in a case that accused him of sending youth offenders to for-profit detention centers in exchange for millions of dollars in illicit payments from the builder and owner of the lockups.
Luzerne County ex-Judge Mark Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after prosecutors charged him with engineering one of the biggest courtroom frauds in U.S. history by using juvenile delinquents as pawns in a plot to get rich…
Ciavarella was expressionless as the verdicts were being read. Prosecutors called him a flight risk and asked that he be held pending sentencing, but he was allowed to remain free. He is likely to get a prison sentence of more than 12 years, according to prosecutors…
The judge, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he ran his courtroom with “complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the juveniles,” including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
His rough treatment of youths — whom he often had handcuffed and shackled — did not figure into his corruption trial, which focused on the payments from Mericle and Powell. But prosecutor Gordon Zubrod told jurors in his closing argument that Luzerne County’s juveniles were indeed victimized by Ciavarella — that he had used them as “pawns in a scheme to enrich himself.”…
Taking the stand in his own defense, the former judge acknowledged to jurors that he failed to report the payments on his tax returns and hid them from the public, but he denied any plot to take kickbacks or extort money. Ciavarella told jurors that he thought he was legally entitled to Mericle’s money, calling it a “finder’s fee” for introducing Mericle to Powell…
Read the article, and if you missed Kay’s original post, her commentary is important. I should probably point out that, despite all odds, the kids exploited by Ciavarella and his co-conspirators were apparently white, genuine Heartland Americans(tm) who turned out to be just as vulnerable as any off-color possibly-non-citizen denizens of the hated urban enclaves. The antics of Ciavarella and his chums would make a great Carl Hiaasen novel, if only there were alligators in Pennsylvania to help dispose of the evidence.
Two Giles County families have come forward to pursue legal action against the Giles County School system for the posting of the Ten Commandments in its schools.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, confirmed the Wisconsin-based group is planning to go forward with legal action.
She said the lawsuit would likely be filed through the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s attorney would act as co-counsel.
However, Gaylor said nothing has been filed yet and the language is being perfected.
The group and the ACLU plan to seek a protective order to keep the families’ names confidential.
Gaylor said the families have students in Giles County Schools and came forward in the last few weeks.
It is really hard to state how much damage the culture wars have inflicted on this country. Rather than issues that matter, so much energy is pumped into crap like this rather than things that really matter. ED Kain just had a long post up on the problems with current education reform, and the issue will get little to no media attention. This story, however, will be all over the news.
The really appalling issue is not whether or not the Ten Commandments are present in schools. The problem is that if they are, most of the damned kids can’t read them.
(BTW: Apologies in advance for the length of this screed. No truth in titling here. You can always think Playboy and/or wherever it was my junior senator offered his cheesecake and “read” it for the pix. ;)
I know that Megan McArdle is a bagatelle in the supermarket of awful opened by the current (and hopefully temporary) right wing ascendancy. But even if there’s nothing she does that rises to the consequence of our recent theme, for example, in which the forced-birth, pro-rape party continues to advance its claims, she still finds her own ways to damage the Republic. So please excuse yet another detour into the eternal sunshine of the McArdle mind.
I’m completely down with his take on the matter, unsurprisingly, but here I want to add the dimension of McArdle’s continuing failure to attain minimal standards of journalistic competence. (I’ve got some unfinished business on this btw, given her recent squib of rage at being called out on errors in kitchen history. If boredom with the company of McArdle’s prose and the day job don’t overwhelm me, I’ll post on that in a couple of days.) Here, I’m want to pound on the way McArdle misleads her readers on what is clearly a more consequential subject.
That would be her use of citations to scholarly literature that, if read, would reveal profound differences between what she says the research reveals and what in fact you find should you read the stuff yourself.
No one could have predicted/nothing could be done/regulation is always bad/hoocoodanode/these things just happen:
People miles away reported hearing a ”blowtorch” sound and could see a glow in the sky from a gas pipeline explosion that shook residents in eastern Ohio, an official said Friday.
”From 20 to 25 miles away they could hear a cracking,” said Jim Hoppel, president of the board of commissioners governing Columbiana County. ”Some people said it was like a blowtorch.”
The Thursday night explosion and fire happened a day after a house explosion in neighboring Pennsylvania took the lives of five residents and destroyed several homes in Allentown.
A dispatcher for the county sheriff’s office said officials had no reports of injury in the blast near Hanoverton. She said there was no mandatory evacuation but those in the village of about 400 people and surrounding towns who wanted to leave their homes could find shelter at a school and at the Salineville Fire Department.
Drill, baby, drill. And of course there is no need for a miniscule tax increase to inspect these things. The free market will sort it out! Regulators just slow down progress! People will speak with their wallets and buy other natural gas, and the market will punish those responsible! Have faith in the invisible hand!
Now that the Egyptian revolution has reached a less American-media-friendly phase, I’m hoping there will be some attention to spare for Raymond A. Davis and his trials in another regional “beneficiary” of our empire-building ambitions:
LAHORE, Pakistan — The case of Raymond A. Davis, a former United States Special Forces soldier who is being held in connection with the deaths of two Pakistanis, has stirred a diplomatic furor, sending the precarious relationship between the United States and Pakistan to a new low, both sides say.
Mr. Davis, 36, was driving in dense traffic in this city on Jan. 27 when, he later told the police, two Pakistani men on a motorcycle tried to rob him. He shot and killed both and was arrested immediately afterward by police officers who say he was carrying a Glock handgun, a flashlight that attached to a headband and a pocket telescope.
The mystery about what Mr. Davis was doing with this inventory of gadgets has touched directly on Pakistani resentments that members of the large American security presence here roam the country freely and are not answerable to the Pakistani authorities.
The Pakistani press, dwelling on the items in Mr. Davis’s possession and his various identity cards, has been filled with speculation about his specific duties, which American officials would not discuss. Mr. Davis’s jobs have been loosely defined by American officials as “security” or “technical,” though his duties were known only to his immediate superiors.
Moments after Mr. Davis shot the two men, he called for help, and a vehicle belonging to the American Consulate in Lahore raced to the scene, driving the wrong way on a one-way street. It ran over a Pakistani cyclist, who later died in a hospital…
That was Tuesday. On Friday, the Washington Post took a less dispassionate tone, claiming the “US weighs tougher approach with Pakistan“:
Grab your anodynes of choice, kiddies, because Ken Layne at Wonkette has assembled a compilation of “One Hundred Years of ReaganTube” that is too good not to share, painful though it is to those of us who had to live through the original era:
Oh can you believe it was only a hundred years ago when Ronald Reagan was born? Which side of the Civil War did he fight on, anyway? (Answer: He didn’t fight at all, but he was an extra at the Ford Theater the night Lincoln was shot, and later claimed to have played the role of Robert E. Lee in James Joyce’s movie Ulysses S. Grant.) Oh, also, back in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was actually serving as president in some weird state of constant incapacitation? Everybody thought he was a moron. Most Republicans didn’t even support him during the regular lows of his disastrous two terms. He also didn’t defeat the Soviet Union — they ran out of money on their own, just like we’ve done here in America in the past 10 years, in the exact same Central Asian country. But Ronald Reagan did delight America with his constant, idiotic appearances on film and television. Let’s remember the empty suit who led us to a Promised Land of Fox News, Tax Cuts for Multi-Billionaires and the deliberate dismantling of what had been the world’s smartest, most prosperous society in the History of the World…
Be grateful you’re getting this warning: there’s a swimsuit shot. On the other hand, the Wonkette commentariat may be second only for high-quality snark behind some blog with a rotating tag line, so you’ve got that to look forward to.
After losing the 2004 Presidential election, a group of us here started a state-registered PAC. The point of the PAC was to find, promote and elect local candidates who share our views.
The PAC works like this: we collect twelve dollars a year from anyone who wants to join. We spend the money to promote the candidates and causes we support. We’re all volunteers.
I’m the treasurer of the PAC. I’m also a lawyer in private practice. In Ohio, I have to file a campaign finance report at least annually but more often quarterly, depending on PAC activity and the number of elections in any given year.
If I don’t meet the filing deadline (which happened, once) I have to file a form to request an extension. I have hand-delivered this extension request to the county Board of Elections because I wanted to see it time-stamped, so I wouldn’t fret all weekend. I have also sat bolt upright in bed trying to recall if I did indeed attach the receipt for the candy we purchased to pass out at a parade, an episode of obsessive second-guessing every lawyer reading this will recognize.
I’m in favor of campaign finance disclosure, and sunshine laws in general, so I do not mind spending the 40 minutes or an hour it takes to compile the report and file it. In fact, our PAC members enthusiastically supported Jennifer Brunner for Secretary of State, and Jennifer Brunner tightened up the disclosure rules. She ran on it.
The PAC filing is a public record, so anyone in this county who wants to know who we are or who and what we’re backing may read the filing. This is a majority Republican county and I live and work here, as do all of the members of the PAC. Every single elected official countywide is a Republican, with the exception of the mayor of an outlying burg and a member of the school board, and all our PAC donors are Democrats.
Having said all that, I read things like this:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his financial-disclosure forms after a liberal group, Common Cause, said he was failing to report the employment of his wife, conservative activist Virginia Thomas. In filings dated Friday, Justice Thomas asked court officials to amend disclosures going back to 1989, when he served as a federal appellate-court judge. An item on the forms asks judges to disclose any “noninvestment income” for their spouse. The form asks only for the name of the employer or other party paying the spouse and doesn’t seek a dollar figure.
Justice Thomas had checked “none” for that item, but now he wants the forms to reflect the names of the employers for whom Mrs. Thomas worked, including the Heritage Foundation from December 1998 through October 2008 Justice Thomas wrote that the information about his wife’s employment “was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”
Federal campaign spending by groups other than candidates and parties this election cycle has far outpaced similar spending from the last midterm election and could rival the 2008 presidential campaign. But with recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the Federal Elections Commission, it has become harder to know whose dollars they are.
We went from 98% disclosure in 2004 to 32% disclosure in 2010, after Citizens. It sure has become “harder to know”!
I know Justice Thomas’ inadvertent omission isn’t a campaign finance question, but I do wonder where we’re going with this.
Did we reach some anti-transparency political consensus in this country that I somehow missed? Is sunlight not, in fact, the best disinfectant? See, I don’t think we did. I think most people agree that more information is better than less information, when making a decision on elected leaders. Yet, somehow, we ended up with a situation where local, individual activists are named where they live and work, and national corporate and moneyed interests are carefully protected.
It’s just incredibly dispiriting. If the objective here was to create cynicism and hopelessness in individual citizens, we succeeded. That we did that in the name of protecting and promoting political speech is obscene.
On Aug. 18, Ms. Moore and her boyfriend went to Police Headquarters to file a complaint with Internal Affairs about the officer who had talked to her alone. Ms. Moore said the officer had fondled her and left his personal telephone number, which she handed over to the investigators.
Ms. Moore said the investigators tried to talk her out of filing a complaint, saying the officer had a good record and that they could “guarantee” that he would not bother her again.
“They keep giving her the run-around, basically trying to discourage her from making a report,” Mr. Johnson said. “Finally, she decides to record them on her cellphone to show how they’re not helping her.”
The investigators discovered that she was recording them and she was arrested and charged with two counts of eavesdropping, Mr. Johnson said. But he added that the law contains a crucial exception. If citizens have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is about to be committed against them, they may obtain evidence by recording it.
“I contend that the Internal Affairs investigators were committing the crime of official misconduct in preventing her from filing a complaint,” Mr. Johnson said. “She’s young. She had no idea what she was getting into when she went in there to make a simple complaint. It’s just a shame when the people watching the cops aren’t up to it.”
Days later, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore returned to Internal Affairs and was able to file a full complaint. There is a continuing investigation of Ms. Moore’s charges against the officer, a Police Department spokesman said.
One of the things that shocks me the most about this kind of thing is how willing everyone seems to be to bend over and just take it. We’ll carry guns to rallies and have a genuine freak-out if someone suggests raising the top marginal rate a point, but there are honest to goodness abuses of authority and prosecutorial misconduct every single day, and only a few people really speak up about it. Hell, even at this website, where the commenters mainly identify as center to center-left, when allegations of misconduct and abuse by our government are put forward, the reaction among a fair number of people is to get their panties in a bunch about the blogger who mentioned it, or to simply swallow the government line. It’s insane. Wikileaks is a perfect case in point- I know when I find out that my government is lying to me, my first reaction is to get really mad at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald, and to spend several months talking about whether or not Assange’s ego is too big or if Glenn uses too many words.
In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to overhaul America’s health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a “government takeover.Takeovers are like coups,” Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. “They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”
PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections.
The phrase is simply not true. Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ ”
We asked incoming House Speaker John Boehner’s office why Republican leaders repeat the phrase when it has repeatedly been shown to be incorrect. Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman, replied, “We believe that the job-killing ObamaCare law will result in a government takeover of health care. That’s why we have pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs.”
It’s a belief, so not therefore not a lie. They never said it had a factual basis.
The phrase appears more than 90 times on Boehner’s website, GOPLeader.gov. It was mentioned eight times in the 48-page Republican campaign platform “A Pledge to America” as part of their plan to “repeal and replace the government takeover of health care.” The Republican National Committee’s website mentions a government takeover of health care more than 200 times. Conservative groups and tea party organizations joined the chorus. It was used by FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.
In 2010 alone, “government takeover” was mentioned 28 times in the Washington Post, 77 times in Politico and 79 times on CNN. In most transcripts we examined, Republican leaders used the phrase without being challenged by interviewers. For example, during Boehner’s Jan. 31 appearance on Meet the Press, Boehner said it five times. But not once was he challenged about it.
CNN beat Politico in shilling for the GOP in 2010, so that’s an upset right there. I had Politico as the favorite.
Last year Republicans (and allied organizations) won for “death panels”.
Any guesses on The Big Lie in 2011?
Bless their hearts. I think you can hear Rich Lowry doing background vocals.
With the news that the new “Trenta”* size Starbucks will offer exceeds the average volume of the human stomach, I (a) gain the opportunity to say I’m not dead yet to this (very spiffy, suddenly) community…
…and more important, have an excuse to post a couple of really juicy bits of art appropriate to the news.
First, for all of you who may wish to revisit what might have been chemically aided visions of your youth, this:
(Next pic after the jump)
*I believe “Trenta” is Seattitalian for “Anti-Personnel Drink.”