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Archive for January 25th, 2011

The New Math

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

The New Math
It only took years to figure out what was known at the time. It’s almost as if legal violations have no consequences if you’re a Republican. Yep, I’m quick on the uptake.

via Sheila Steele at flickr.com

Well, now we know what sausage-casing in glasses Karl Rove meant when he said this:

October 31, 2006

Presidential adviser Karl Rove, an architect of Republican political strategy, says he’s confident his party will hold both chambers of Congress. He says that despite public polls that show Democrats have a strong chance of winning. Why is Rove publicly confident?

Regardless of the outcome of the 2006 election, why was Rove confident?

Perhaps he knew just how Washington works, more than four years later:

A long-running federal investigation has found that White House political aides to President George W. Bush engaged in widespread violations of a federal law which limits partisan political activity by government employees during the 2006 midterm elections.

A 118-page report issued Monday by the little-known Office of Special Counsel cites numerous violations of the Hatch Act by the Bush-era White House Office of Political Affairs. The report concludes that federal taxpayers footed the bill for improper activities that were intended to advance Republican political candidates.

It helped, as Rove knew, that the Bush-era head of the Office of Special Counsel was about as unqualified for his job as you’d expect.

And just like Iraq, GITMO, and a wide variety of authorized tortures, there will be no further prosecutions, I’m sure.

Thank goodness for consequences.


Japan Killing 410,000 Chickens Over Bird Flu Fears

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Japan Killing 410,000 Chickens Over Bird Flu Fears
Japanese authorities aren’t waiting for test results, although it will take days to cull the animals. A strain of flu was identified at a poultry farm, prompting a series of safety precautions.

Japanese authorities aren’t waiting for test results, although it will take days to cull the animals. A strain of flu was identified at a poultry farm, prompting a series of safety precautions.

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Richard (RJ) Eskow: Reality Checks: 10 Economic Benchmarks For the State of the Union And GOP Response

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Reality Checks: 10 Economic Benchmarks For the State of the Union And GOP Response
Tonight the President gives his State of the Union address, followed by the Republican response from Rep. Paul Ryan. There’ll be a lot of talk…

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Carol Browner Leaving White House
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House climate change adviser Carol Browner will step down in coming weeks, Obama administration sources said on Monday. Browner’s departure…


Beck Calls For U.S. Chief Of Protocol To Be Fired Over Invented Controversies

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Beck Calls For U.S. Chief Of Protocol To Be Fired Over Invented Controversies

Glenn Beck called for Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, the current Chief of Protocol of the United States, to be fired, citing completely manufactured controversies: the “Mao Christmas tree ornament debacle” in 2009 and Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s rendition of an “anti-American song” at a White House state dinner in 2011.

Beck Calls For U.S. Chief Of Protocol To Be Fired Over “Mao Christmas Tree Ornament” And Lang Lang Performance

Beck On Chief Of Protocol: “I Think She Should Be Fired.” Beck said, “I want to know who’s the Chief of the Protocol office at the White House. And I know that’s a rhetorical question, because really you can’t answer me, and I know who it is already. It’s Capricia Penavic Marshall. She seems lovely. She’s not doing much protocol. No one in the White House has done much about protocol since Obama was elected.” After citing incidents that Beck himself acknowledged occurred before Marshall became Chief of Protocol, Beck continued:

Now Capricia wasn’t there for those. But she was there for the Mao Christmas tree ornament debacle, and now we’ve had this one. I love this one.

The Chinese pianist allowed to play an American – I’m sorry, an anti-American song at the lavish White House state dinner. Here he is. He’s introducing it.

And by the way, this is just the song that everybody in China knows. It was written during the Korean War. Very, very popular in China. I believe they call Americans in this one “jackals.”

So I don’t know what is happening at the White House Protocol Office. I don’t know if anybody over eight is actually running our country from the White House. But I think she should be fired.

I think everybody in the — I’d rather have just a pencil and a dog that pees on people’s legs at the protocol office, because at least we could explain those ones away. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 01/24/11]

Mao Christmas Tree Ornament Actually Depicted A Well-Known Andy Warhol Painting

LA Times: “It Wasn’t Exactly Mao. It Was Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao.'” A 2009 article by Christopher Knight in the Los Angeles Times ridiculed disgraced conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart’s accusation that the White House inappropriately included an ornament depicting communist Chinese leader Mao on the White House Christmas tree:

On Tuesday, Andrew Breitbart’s a performance by Lang Lang, a Chinese pianist who has been a sensation in music circles. Mr. Lang played a duet with the American jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, then a haunting traditional Chinese melody called “My Motherland.”

In China, it turns out, “My Motherland” is better known as the theme from the film “Battle on Shangganling Mountain,” a 1956 Chinese classic about a Korean War battle in which a vastly outnumbered band of Chinese soldiers held off American and United Nations forces for 42 days.

If, in retrospect, “My Motherland” might seem to be a regrettable choice for a state dinner, it clearly was unintentional. Mr. Lang, an American-trained pianist who divides his time between the United States and China, is an artist who melds American and Chinese cultures. [The New York Times1/21/11]

Fallows: “A Barbed Message, Beneath All The Happy Talk? That Seems Far Fetched.” The Atlantic‘s James Fallows wrote in a blog post:

One other note: apparently a minor flap in the Chinese-nationalist blogosphere because the “Chinese song” that Lang Lang played after his duet with Herbie Hancock, as the only non-jazz element in the concert, is known in China from a famous Korean War-era movie about a battle between Chinese soldiers and UN/American troops. A barbed message, beneath all the happy talk? That seems far fetched. I think the New York Times explanation is more plausible: a perhaps inartful but not devious/ hostile choice of song. (As if “Over There” had been played as an American song for a visiting German dignitary — or if “Lili Marlene” were played in Germany. Or even “Yankee Doodle Dandy” during a US visit by the Queen.) By chance, my wife and I had talked with Lang Lang for quite a long while before his performance. Trained in Philadelphia, based mainly in New York, with as devoted an audience in the U.S. as anywhere, manifestly excited about the whole event and his chance to play with Hancock, he seems an unlikely vehicle for a slyly angry nationalist message, via a movie from his grandparents’ time. [James Fallows, The Atlantic1/23/11]


TPM’s Guide To Mobster Country

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

TPM’s Guide To Mobster Country
More than 120 suspected mobsters were arrested in yesterday’s massive mafia bust. And along with the arrests came hundreds of pages of court documents detailing alleged illegal activity taking place across three states: New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. From allegations of extortion in Midtown Manhattan and murder in Queens, to strip clubs in Providence and gambling on Long Island, allow TPM to take you on a little tour of the underworld:


Effort To ‘Modernize’ Miranda Looks Dead, But DOJ Wouldn’t Release New ‘Guidance’
Nine months after it was first floated by the Obama administration, a plan to “modernize” Miranda rights doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the legislative branch. But Attorney General Eric Holder issued a guidance a few months ago that the Justice Department says sets no specific time limit on the so-called public safety exception.

Report: Bush White House Violated Law By Using Gov’t Resources To Support GOP in ’06 Elections
George W. Bush’s White House Office of Political Affairs violated the law by giving political briefings to political employees, concludes an Office of Special Counsel report issued Monday, nearly five years after the fact.


The Noir City Report

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

The Noir City Report
During an intense effort to convince a Conservative friend that he should listen to some of Mike Malloy’s radio shows, we suddenly realized that we had earned the right to take a short break, so we hopped on a bus and headed out for the Ninth Annual Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco. […]


Empty Seat for Giffords

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Empty Seat for Giffords
“The Arizona delegation will sit together Tuesday night during President Obama’s State of the Union address, leaving one seat empty to honor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ),” The Hill reports.

Surge of Optimism About Country
A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds 43% of the public feel that things are going well in the country, up 14 points since December. The survey indicates that a majority of Americans continue to think that things are going badly in the country today, but that figure has dropped from 71% at the end of last year to 56% now.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “We haven’t seen numbers this good since April of 2007. One likely reason for the change is the public’s growing optimism about the economy.”


Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
The DC-Wall Street power circuit, with a big assist from the corporate media, is blindly pushing an agenda that could lead to massive social upheaval.


The State of the Union: A Surprising Preview

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

The State of the Union: A Surprising Preview
Rotwang’s Islamic fundamentalist spies in the White House relayed the following advance transcript of President Barack Hussein Obama’s scheduled speech tomorrow. Workers and Peasants of America! I bring you greetings from the executive committee of the bourgeoisie! This introduction to…

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2020 Vision
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67 Percent Of Tea Partiers Would Rather Raise Taxes Than Raise The Social Security Retirement Age

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 25th, 2011 5:35 am by HL

67 Percent Of Tea Partiers Would Rather Raise Taxes Than Raise The Social Security Retirement Age

There appears to be some growing consensus among some of the political elite that there should be major regressive changes to Social Security, like cutting back on benefits and/or raising the retirement age. Building on this consensus, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) are expected to release legislation soon that would involve raising the retirement age to 69. Yet a new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) finds that one group that does not support these regressive cuts is the American people themselves. The PPP poll found that 77 percent of Americans would rather “pay Social Security taxes on salaries above $106,800,” essentially lifting the income tax cap, instead of seeing their “benefits cut and the retirement age increased to age 69.” Surprisingly, however, even 67 percent of self-identified Tea Partiers said they would rather raise the tax cap than cuts benefits and hike the retirement age:

Currently, workers pay social security payroll taxes on up to $106,800 of their salary. To ensure the long-term viability of Social Security, would you rather have people pay social security taxes on salaries above $106,800, or would you rather see benefits cut and the retirement age increased to age 69?

Raise payroll cap Cut benefits
All 77 10

Dem 84 4
GOP 69 17
Ind 77 11

Tea Party 67 20

Those who advocate for raising the Social Security retirement age often claim that they are pursuing “moderate” paths for reform. As this poll and others demonstrate, the course they are choosing is far from centrist.

Gun Supply CEO & NRA Board Member Pete Brownell On High-Capacity Gun Clips: ?It?s Just An Advantage?

The Center for Public Integrity reported last Tuesday that a number of high-capacity gun magazine manufactures are financing the National Rifle Association’s lobbying operations, and that two members of the NRA Board currently serve as the CEO of companies that sell high-capacity clips. The report is particularly relevant in the wake of both the Tucson shooting and a subsequent proposal in Congress to limit these clip sizes to around 10 cartridges per magazine. The NRA has recently criticized the proposed legislation, saying that high-capacity magazines are “standard” for “self-defense.”

Speaking of this close association with gun industry CEOs and the NRA, Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center said, “The NRA’s priorities are not gun owners but the manufacturers of guns and accessories,” and that the NRA’s opposition to gun control legislation often “isn’t about protecting the rights of millions of gun owners [so much] as protecting the financial interests of NRA board members and the NRA itself.”

Pete Brownell is President of Brownells, Inc, — “the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools — and was elected to the NRA Board last year. ThinkProgress caught up with Brownell at the SHOT Show convention in Las Vegas last week and asked him about this symbiotic relationship. Brownell denied that the NRA is working to benefit the gun industry financially, claiming that it only defends the Second Amendment. He also denied that his role at the NRA as a current gun supply company CEO is in any way nefarious:

BROWNELL: The NRA has always been active in the public interest. They’ve been a defender of the Second Amendment. It’s not because of financial interest, it’s because they defend the Second Amendment, what the founders, the original people that wrote this, were intending, what they actually wrote down. So they defend the Second Amendment. They don’t necessarily say, “We’re going to do this because someone is writing me a check.” […]

We need leaders to lead organizations, and the one place they get leaders is the military. The other place they get leaders are politicians and really the third place they get them are entrepreneurs. You can’t just get leadership from one area because then you’ll become pretty myopic in that area as an organization.

ThinkProgress noted that many attendees at the SHOT Show this week disputed the NRA’s contention that high-capacity clips are needed for self-defense purposes. One gun retailer said, “If ten rounds of ammunition can’t do the job you probably shouldn’t own a gun.” But Brownell disagreed. “When you’re defending, you want to have as much of an advantage as possible so it does matter. … It’s just an advantage.” Listen to the interview:

Indeed, high-capacity magazines are an advantage. And one such clip was an advantage for Jared Loughner in Tucson this month, who was subdued by attendees at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ) constituent event only after he stopped to reload his 31-bullet clip.