Year: 2011

Works for Me

Marcy Wheeler looks at the defense authorization bill, and its provisions for indefinite detention without trial, and observes that it could be used to lock up JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon forever.

You see, his firm has attempted to thwart sanctions against Iran, allowed their bank to be used to to funnel money to terrorist assassins, and a whole bunch of other people who have, “supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces.”

If Obama was willing to do this, I might actually vote for him.

Then again, considering the fact that he’s signing the Defense Authorization act which tramples on the very notion of civil rights, which, ironically enough, is what gives him the power to lock up Jamie Dimon forever on nothing more than his say so.

I just have to figure out who I’m going to write in for the primary and the general.

Adding Someone to My Act Blue List

Rob Zerban.  (see Matthew Saroff’s Act Blue Page)

He’s running against everyone’s favorite Randroid nutjob, Paul “Let’s voucherize Medicare” Ryan, and a recent poll seems to show that he is vulnerable:

A prominent Democratic pollster is making the case that the party should invest in a challenge to Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the conservative House budget plan.

Pollster Paul Maslin’s survey of 405 likely voters “shows that challenger Rob Zerban is well-positioned to give incumbent Paul Ryan the toughest fight of his career, with a very good chance to upset him,” Maslin wrote in a memo.

A serious campaign against Ryan is a tempting prospects for Democrats hoping to restore the third-rail status of the major entitlement programs Ryan would dramatically alter; it would be a massively expensive effort on both sides in a state, Wisconsin, that has been the center of the ideological combat of the last year.

The survey found the district, the Wisconsin First, evenly divided on partisan issues — both President Obama and Governor Scott Walker have even approval and disapproval ratings

According to the memo, the late October and early November poll found a deep dislike of Congress in general that is spilling over onto Ryan

Here’s hoping that he raises some good money, because if the Democratic Party apparatus, particularly the DNC under Tim Kaine, is true to form, they aren’t going to support him at all, but will instead blow their money on conservadems on solidly Democratic districts.

Your Scott Walker News of the Day

First, in an exercise of profound wankitude, Scott Walker is attempting to charge people a lot of money to protest against him:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.

The rules, which several legal experts said raised serious free speech concerns, seemed likely to add to the controversy that has simmered all year over demonstrations in the state’s seat of government.

The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules.

State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state . . . for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”

But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.

“I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,” he said. “You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.”

Well, it seems like Scott Walker does think that you can put a price tag on the First Amendment.

In somewhat less depressing news, there has been the first arrest made in the so called “John Doe” investigation,  a realtor who refused to testify, because his grant of immunity would not be secret, even though the court proceedings were.

So it appears that he was more concerned about someone getting to him, and his family, than he was of the prosecutor.

The weird thing is that this is supposed to be an investigation of some of Scott’s staffers … wait for it … making politically motivated blog comments while on the state clock.

I don’t know what is going on here, but I do know that you don’t haul witnesses before a grand jury with a gag order, and you don’t arrest them for lack of cooperation, over a case of some staffers politicking on the job.

Here’s hoping that we start seeing indictments in the middle of the recall campaign.

Also, in the “there are a few good guys out there, but here is one, department,” the ACLU is suing Scotty over his voter suppression efforts:

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the State of Wisconsin on Tuesday over a new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification, charging that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit says that the state is infringing on some citizens’ right to vote and to be treated equally under the law and amounts to a kind of poll tax on voters who lack the documents needed to get an approved ID.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker, who is named in the lawsuit along with a long list of other state officials, have said they believe the measure will withstand a court challenge.

The action came Tuesday ahead of a scheduled speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he vowed to enforce civil rights protections amid a flurry of voter ID laws recently passed around the country. The Wisconsin lawsuit was filed in federal court in Milwaukee by the national ACLU and its Wisconsin affiliate and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty on behalf of a group of senior citizens, minorities and homeless residents.

“This lawsuit is the opening act in what will be a long struggle to undo the damage done to the right to vote by strict photo ID laws and other voter suppression measures,” said Jon Sherman, an attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project.

With a 5-4 advantage of conservatives in the Supreme court, and the fact that all 5 are political hacks, I don’t think that the Supreme court will end up doing the non-corrupt thing, but at least we should see an injunction for the next election cycle or two.

Paul Krugman is Right

Newt Gingrich is a, “Stupid Man’s Idea of What a Smart Man Sounds Like.”

Case in point, Newt Gingrich seems to think that making the Federal Reserve like the European Central Bank is a good thing:

If Newt Gingrich were president–something that has recently at least entered the realm of plausibility–the Federal Reserve would no longer worry about trying to create jobs, and would focus instead only on controlling inflation. And wealthy financial industry tycoons like Warren Buffett would likely get a big tax cut.

The Federal Reserve has two tasks under the law: to keep inflation low, and to achieve maximum employment. Gingrich wants to end that “dual mandate,” so that the central bank would focus solely on inflation.

So it’s back to expansionary austerity, which is tearing the Euro Zone apart right now.

We are looking at a breakup of not just the Euro, but the real possibility of a breakup of the European Union because of this sort bloody-minded imbecility.

It’s amazing just how much the press seems to eat up the idea of Newt as an intellectual, while pretty much everyone who has ever worked with him seems to think that he’s an unstable wanker.

My money is on everyone who has ever worked with him.

Yeah, I Believe Him

Newt is pledging not to commit adultery for the 4th time:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich this week signed a pledge to uphold conservative values from the Iowa-based group The Family Leader and vowed to restrict federal dollars from paying for abortion overseas, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and stay true to his wife, Callista.

“I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman,” Gingrich wrote in a letter to The Family Leader announcing his support of the group’s pledge. “I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.”

That would actually be the fourth time Gingrich has taken a no-adultery pledge. He took the first one in 1962 when he married Jackie Battley, and then again in 1981 when he married Marianne Ginther and made a third one to Callista Bisek (now Gingrich) in 2000.

Gingrich, whose first two marriages ended because he was having an affair a woman who would later become his wife, addressed his history of infidelity at the ABC News/Yahoo! Republican debate on Saturday, where he said that he has sought forgiveness for his mistakes.

So the big lies were:

  1. I’ll respect you in the morning.
  2. The cheque is in the mail.
  3. I will not come in your mouth. 

And we can now add #4:

  1. This time, Newt is serious about his marital vows.

    What Digby Says

    Her comments on the Obama’s administration craven capitulation on Plan B contraception:

    If Democrats cared as much about getting young women to the polls as they care about getting ideologically incoherent swing voters, they’d win in a walk. They are progressive and they are hostile to the GOP agenda on nearly every level. They have been the most loyal Democratic voters but they are demoralized and need to be reassured that the Democrats give a damn about them. The Plan B decision says the opposite.

    This is patently clear to anyone with a brain, but, unfortunately, Barack Obama isn’t.

    He got into the Senate because his rich primary opponents cut each other to bits, and then his opponent in the general self destructed (wanted to have sex in public with his wife) and was replaced by the craziest person in the Republican party (Alan “WTF?” Keyes).

    He won the White House because the press hated Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush so thoroughly trashed the Republican brand, and then faced a doddering old fool who selected the stupidest f%$#ing person in Alaska as a running mate.

    It’s better to lucky than smart, but stupid is always bad news, and I see absolutely no sign of any sort of political savvy here.

    It’s sad when a politician seizes on a load of crap (Post Partisan Unity Schtick) as a “special sauce,” and then believes it.

    Of course, this describes the Republicans too, and they all add a hefty dose of batsh%$ insane.

    I miss the calm sanity and liberalism of Richard Milhaus Nixon.

    OK, I’m Speechless

    An anti-Gay former Alabama gubernatorial candidate is donating sperm to lesbians:

    A conservative Christian politician has a secret life as a sperm donor for lesbian couples – even though he has campaigned against gay marriage.

    American politician Bill Johnson has spent most of this year in Christchurch helping run the earthquake recovery, all the while using the online persona “chchbill” to meet women who want help to get pregnant.

    Under that persona, he has discussed making donations to at least nine women without the knowledge of his family in the US.

    Three of the women are now pregnant, and Johnson has assisted another three with donations in the past month. It is believed he has been in communication with at least another three women to discuss sperm donation.

    He moved to Christchurch after the February quake without his wife Kathy, a two-time Mrs America finalist who has three children from a former relationship. Johnson is long-term recovery manager for Ceres NZ.

    The Herald on Sunday approached Johnson on Thursday at a restaurant in Christchurch where he had just finished dining with one of the women he had successfully impregnated.

    He said the urge to become a biological father was “a need that I have”.

    “I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world. When I married her I knew we couldn’t have any more children. She had a hysterectomy 10 years ago.

    OK, I do have one thing to say, this guy has some serious problems with narcissism.

    This is the most self absorbed thing that I’ve heard of ever.

    And the whole former Miss America thing is the cherry on the weirdness sundae.

    Talking Points Memo.

    I Think That the Fat Lady Is Tuning Up In the Green Room

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship that is Syria, case in point Hamas is beginning to remove its staff from Syria, despite the fact that their patron, Iran is threatening to cut them off if they do so:

    Iran had applied intense pressure to Hamas in an effort to persuade it not to leave Damascus, threatening even to cut off funds to the organization if it did so, Palestinian sources have told Haaretz.

    The Iranian pressure also included an unprecedented ultimatum – namely, an explicit threat to stop supplying Hamas with arms and suspend the training of its military activists.

    According to the sources, Hamas is abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as an alternative location for its political command center. Hamas’ move comes despite intense Iranian pressure on the organization to refrain from relocating.

    A Syrian opposition spokesman said recently that once Assad is toppled, his successors will have no intention of preserving the strategic alliance between Damascus, Tehran and Hezbollah.

    According to the Palestinian sources, only “second and third-ranking” Hamas activists are leaving Damascus, while senior members of the organization’s political wing, headed by Khaled Meshal, are remaining in the Syrian capital.

    I really don’t think that there are a whole bunch of Arab nations out there that are chomping at the bit to paint a target on their back to ally themselves with Hamas, particularly since they are joined at the hip with Syria.

    The fact that Hamas is getting the hell out of dodge indicates that the longevity of the Assad regime is problematic.

    Pass the Popcorn…

    It appears that self hating gay Republican group GOProud was so incensed by Rick Perry’s anti-gay bigotry ad, and they grew a pair, and outed gay Perry staffer Tony Fabrizio, which so offended board member, and lush, Andrew Breitbart that he quit from their board:

    GOProud issued a statement this morning, saying, “Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here. Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy – not just an isolated television ad – intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points.”

    It was in response to this decision that Breitbart, who edits Big Government, Big Hollywood, and several other conservative websites, released a statement of his own, resigning from his position as an advisor to GOProud. “I have a zero tolerance attitude toward the intentional infliction of vocational and family harm by divulging the details of an individual’s sexual orientation as a weapon of political destruction,” he told The Daily Caller, “As an ‘Advisory Board member’ I was not consulted on this extreme and punitive act.”

    You know, it’s so cute when sh%$ like this goes down. 

    Expect Cost Escalations and Delays For the Joint Strike Fighter Engine

    Because GE and Rolls Royce have pulled the plug on their joint F136 engine venture:

    After 15 years of ups and downs, General Electric and Rolls-Royce have accepted defeat in their battle to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will today announce the end of the F136 program and the Fighter Engine Team partnership.

    By deciding to discontinue self-funding the F136 alternate engine they are also parting ways at an interesting time for the propulsion world. Rolls’s recent, and unexpected, rapprochement with Pratt & Whitney over commercial engines could, for instance, signal the start of new strategic links in the military engine world now that the long-lived experiment with GE is over.


    The move to kill the F136 comes after an Oct 31 meeting between GE Aviation leadership and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter in which “it became clear that the DoD would not support the FET self-funding effort,” says GE.

    So basically, the Pentagon left a horse’s head in their bed.

    I expect that all the good news from Pratt & Whitney over the past few months, about them making noise about being ahead of schedule and budget, to end abruptly.

    Without a competitor engine, we  are now going to see all the stuff that was swept under the carpet for the F135 percolating back up, and the tax payer will be on the hook for it.

    Well, Now I Know Why They Were Flying a Stealth Drone in Afghanistan

    Click for full size

    Note the Radar Blocker in the Inlet

    I thought that its deployment to Afghanistan was a budget ploy, after all, why use a stealthy drone, the RQ-170, against an opponent who has no radar (the Taliban), but I was wrong.

    It turns out that they were using it to spy on Iran, and Tehran, does have an integrated air defense network.

    And now the us sources are privately admitting that they flew it over Iran, and that the Iranians did get the drone.

    Of interest, to my not particularly schooled eye, I think that I realize what the fairing on the top of the wing are; they are to accommodate the landing gear.

    BTW, here’s a rundown on what secrets might be compromised, and it’s a pretty big deal.

    People I Do Not Want to Piss Off: Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi

    Blah, blah, blah!

    He showed up to a press conference for Florida governor Rick Scott, and asked for a urine sample for a drug test:

    Gov. Rick Scott and his drug testing policy became the unwitting target of Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” on Wednesday as a reporter for the show broke into budget news conference and asked the governor to “pee into this cup.”

    “You’ve benefitted from hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars over the years so would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you’re not on drugs,” asked Comedy Central reporter, Aasif Mandvi. It was a reference to the governor’s drug-testing requirement imposed on all state employees and all welfare recipients.

    Scott looked straight at him, didn’t miss a beat and said: “I’ve done it plenty of times.”

    Mandvi then attempted to hand the sealed, official-looking collection cup to the governor. “We could all turn around, that’s fine,” he said.

    At one point Mandvi persuaded other reporters to pass the cup to the front row but Scott ignored it. Mandvi asked again. “I hate to keep harping on this, would you pee in a cup?” Scott shot back: “You don’t get to run this.”

    Last session, Scott persuaded the legislature to pass a law requiring all welfare recipients to pass a drug test but the measure was challenged by state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and put on hold by an Orlando court. Scott is appealing the ruling.

    Remind me to never ever piss off anyone on The Daily Show, not even Steve the Intern, ever!

    Another Core Democratic Party Value Betrayed

    This one isn’t a surprise. Barack Obama has a long tradition of ambivalence to women’s reproductive rights.

    He’s been uninterested in women’s issues since his days in the Illinois legislature.

    Most recently, we have the ruling by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruling the FDA’s decision to make the Plan B morning after pill an over the counter medication.

    Let’s be clear here. This is the first time ever that an HHS Secretary has overruled the FDA.

    And Obama is fine with this:

    President Obama, who took office pledging to put science ahead of politics, averted a skirmish with conservatives in the nation’s culture wars on Thursday by endorsing his health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of an after-sex contraceptive pill to girls under age 17.

    The administration action inevitably raised questions about whether politics was trump in this instance — especially from disappointed supporters in the scientific and women’s rights communities. Mr. Obama, who had criticized how his predecessor made decisions on issues like contraceptives, sought to dispel that idea in remarks to White House reporters.

    “I did not get involved in the process,” he quickly asserted.

    Yes, while Barack Obama is getting his faux populist cred on for the upcoming election, he had nothing to do with this decision.

    In the control freak factory that is the Obama administration, the idea that this decision was not thoroughly vetted by both the policy and political wonks is simply not believeable.

    In fact, if the head of HHS made this decision without passing it up the chain, it justify their firing.

    Mr. Obama said the decision was made by his secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius. On Wednesday, in a rare move, she overruled the Food and Drug Administration, which had recommended that the morning-after pill Plan B One-Step is safe and should be sold without a prescription to people under 17, just as it is now to those who are 17 and older.

    “I will say this, as the father of two daughters: I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Mr. Obama said.

    “And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.”


    This is just too dangerous, but acetaminophen, which causes, “over 56,000 injuries, 2,500 hospitalizations, and an estimated 450 deaths per year,” kids can buy that at the drug store.

    And of course the whole, “Using his daughters as political human shield thing,” is contemptible.

    First, he is putting a barrier in that will likely force some girls to ask their rapist’s permission, second, even a couple of hour delay to get a prescription makes the drug less effective, and third, it’s a couple of orders of magnitude (at least) safer than pregnancy.

    Once again, I am glad that I don’t live in a swing state, so I don’t have to vote for this hypocritical ratf%$#.

    Yeah, not primarying him was such a good thing.

    I Was Wrong, I Apologize

    For those of you have followed my blog for a while, I started it in May of 2007, I have been suggesting that the Euro was likely to supplant the US as the world’s reserve currency.

    Well, I missed a couple of things:

    • The fact that the Euro was drawn up by a bunch of neoliberal (which means conservative) economists who has been railing against regulation and the welfare state, which, as the past few years have shown to be an unmitigated disaster.
    • That the Germans, would be … well … Germans.

    Now, I’m inclined to believe that, absent a German exit from the Euro, that the unified currency is doomed, and the EU may be as well.

    Unlike my hairier brother,* I do not think that another war in Europe is inevitable, though I think that an EU breakup has a potential of leading to some shooting, or, more likely, some sort of a “Cold Peace.”

    *The Indians call him “Carpet who walks”.