Month: May 2012

The Big Dog is Coming to Wisconsin

Bill Clinton is heading to Wisconsin to campaign for Scott Walker’s recall:

Former President Bill Clinton has decided to go to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker in the final days of the battle over whether to recall the Wisconsin Governor, a move that could give a boost to the anti-Walker forces in a campaign that will depend heavily on who turns out to vote, a source familiar with Clinton’s plans confirms to me.

As late as yesterday afternoon, it was still not certain whether Clinton would go to Wisconsin. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in a meeting with Democrats, seemed to suggest that he was trying to determine whether he would go. But neither the DNC nor Clinton’s camp would confirm whether it was going to happen, and Democrats cautioned that Clinton had not made up his mind.

But now he will go to Wisconsin, the source confirms.

Democrats badly want Clinton to campaign in Wisconsin for Tom Barrett, and had lobbied him heavily for weeks. But Clinton remaind undecided until today.

For the past month, the Democratic establishment has pretended that the recall does not matter, and now, suddenly they all showing up to campaign.

Either the internal polling is looking good, or the rank and file have been hammering them, or maybe both.

Either way, this is a positive development.

Google Wins

The judge has now ruled on whether or not the Java API is covered by coopyright, and he said no.

This must be the one of the few federal judges out there who understands programming:

Oracle’s legal battle to break itself off a chunk of the smartphone market by attacking Android looks dead in the water today, after a federal judge who recently finished presiding over the six-week Oracle v. Google trial ruled that the structure of the Java APIs that Oracle was trying to assert can’t be copyrighted at all.

It’s only the code itself—not the “how-to” instructions represented by APIs—that can be the subject of a copyright claim, ruled Judge William Alsup. “So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API,” wrote the judge.

Google had copied certain elements—names, declaration and header lines—of the Java APIs. Alsup ruled that even though Google could have rearranged “the various methods under different groupings among the various classes and packages,” the overall name tree is “a utilitarian and functional set of symbols, each to carry out a pre-assigned function… Duplication of the command structure is necessary for interoperability.”


Alsup compared APIs to a library, with each package as a bookshelf in the library, each class a book on the shelf, and each method a chapter out of a how-to book. “As to the 37 packages, the Java and Android libraries are organized in the same basic way but all of the chapters in Android have been written with implementations different from Java but solving the same problems and providing the same functions.” The declarations, or headers, “must be identical to carry out the given function,” wrote Alsup.

Ninety-seven percent of the source code in the API packages is different; it’s only the three percent that overlaps that formed the heart of Oracle’s copyright claim. That three percent included packages, methods, and class names. But those declarations—like starting a function with package java.lang—can only be used in certain ways. “In order to declare a particular functionality, the language demands that the method declaration take a particular form,” notes Alsup (emphasis in original).

Alsup’s ruling comes less than a month after a European court made a decision along the same lines, finding that programming APIs can’t be copyrighted because it would “monopolize ideas.”

Judge Alsup gets it.

He understands the basic concepts, and he understands computers.

I am pleasantly surprised.

Edwards Not Guilty on 1, Mistrial on 6

Considering the fact that the judge bent over backwards for John Edwards, this is a win for Edwards.

Considering the fact that the judge was clearly in the prosecution’s pocket, allowing testimony that had nothing to do with the underlying crime for the squick factor, and forbidding the presentation of an FEC ruling which said that the expenditures were legal, the prosecution has to be thinking that this case is a loser.

Why I’m Voting in November

Because the bigots in Maryland have turned in sufficient signatures to put a repeal of same sex marriage on the ballot:

Activists working to repeal Maryland’s same-sex marriage law have collected more than twice the signatures needed for a referendum — likely ensuring that the measure will be on the ballot for voters to decide in November.

The law’s opponents submitted 122,481 signatures in favor of a referendum; 55,736 are required. If enough are verified as legitimate, as expected, Maryland will be in the center of a national debate on same-sex marriage, with groups on both sides preparing to spend millions.

I’m still debating between writing in Stewart/Colbert or Colbert/Stewart, but I’m voting against the hate amendment.

Why Newspapers are Dying

Because their owners are draining them dry. First, it was the Bancroft family and the Wall Street Journal, and now it’s the Ochs-Sulzberger family the management and the New York Times:

About $11 million of [former NY Times CEO] Robinson’s exit package was from her pension and retirement plan. Another roughly $7 million consisted of her yearly compensation and awards, and stock options she was entitled to after her years at the Times. But she also received a $4.5 million consulting contract, a kind of gratuitous bonus that didn’t look or smell right to anyone who was toiling on Eighth Avenue and worrying over pensions in danger of being frozen in ongoing labor negotiations. That payout has since become the centerpiece of rancorous disputes between the Newspaper Guild of New York, the newsroom’s union, and management. The intense discussions are still in progress as of this writing, hung up on a suggestion made by the Guild to redesign the Times’ pension system.

In the era of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., when newspapers have flailed under new digital realities, the New York Times Company has shrunk dramatically. Once it was a wide-ranging media empire of newspapers and TV stations and websites, and even a baseball team, that was worth almost $7 billion; today it’s essentially two struggling newspapers and a much-­reduced web company, all worth less than $1 billion (for comparison, consider that the Internet music company Pandora is valued at almost $2 billion). Despite the shrinkage, the company has retained essentially the same top-heavy management, which it has kept well compensated. Even though the paper froze executives’ pensions in 2009, as it is threatening to do with union employees, the company created two loopholes, called the Restoration Plan and the Supplemental Executive Savings Plan, which allowed certain high-earning executives to take money out anyway. As a result, Janet Robinson received an additional lump-sum payment of over half a million dollars upon exiting the Times.

And the family wants to re-institute their $20+ million dividends.

Newspapers have a problem, and it’s largely Craigslist eating their lunch on classified ads.

Cutting reporting staff to make a crappier product won’t fix this in the long term, though it might get those damn dividends flowing for the nest few years.

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

I did not think that it was possible for a pedophile priest could get any less sympathetic, but the Transportation Security Administration has proved me wrong, because they hired him as a supervisor of the gropers at Philadelphia International Airport:

The CBS 3 I-Team has learned that a Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over sex abuse allegations now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport.

The security checkpoint between Terminals D and E is a busy place where thousands of people – including lots of kids – pass through every day. But you might not believe who the I-Team observed working as a TSA supervisor at that checkpoint this week: Thomas Harkins.

Until 2002, Harkins was a Catholic priest working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls. Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of Harkins’ victims.

The I-Team asked Harkins about the suit as he was leaving his shift at the airport.

“I have nothing to say,” was Harkins’ reply.

The new lawsuit, filed in federal court against the Camden Diocese says quite a bit. It accuses Harkins of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl 10 to 15 times in 1980 and 1981. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the alleged victim, claims the abuse occurred while Harkins was a priest at Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Hammonton, NJ, with one assault even occurring in Harkins’ bedroom at the rectory.

Seriously, this just boggles the mind.

BTW, props to the Camden Diocese, which, unlike to many other dioceses, got rid of this guy, but f%$# the TSA.

H/T Americablog.

Finally, the National Dems Do Something in Wisconsin

After saying that the recalls does not matter, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has finally deigned to spend a few hours in Wisconsin campaigning for a recall:

Racine — Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told 75 Democratic Party supporters Wednesday that the national party was “putting all of our effort into this fight” to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett topple Gov. Scott Walker in Tuesday’s recall election.

“Scott Walker has worked hard to make sure that people think that he’s the rock star of the right-wing tea-party extremism that the Republican Party has allowed to take them over,” she said. “And that is not what voters in Wisconsin want to see happen.”

Wasserman Schultz made two appearances in Wisconsin, appearing with Barrett at a fundraiser in Milwaukee and then speaking with campaign volunteers at a Democratic Party headquarters in Racine.

The optimist would hope that the internal polling is showing good numbers.

The pessimist would say that she was getting so much flak from the base that she had to make a pro-forma attempt.

I am a pessimist.

On a related note, if anyone was wondering if Martin O’Malley is looking to run for president, wonder no more:

Gov. Martin O’Malley, continuing to build on his high national profile as head of the Democratic Governors Association, will travel to Wisconsin Thursday to campaign for the challenger in the effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Colm O’Comartun, executive director of the DGA, said O’Malley will make a one-day trip to the Badger State to support Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the hard-fought contest. O’Malley will follow that trip with a three-state swing through New England.

Walker, who was elected in 2010, was forced into a recall election after pushing through legislation stripping public employees in Wisconsin of collective bargaining rights. That action made him a target of organized labor, but also brought him a huge infusion of campaign cash from national business groups and conservative organizations.

O’Comartun said the DGA has already supplied $3.2 million to the Barrett campaign as part of a strategy adopted even before Barrett won the nomination in a primary earlier this month. Despite a wide gap in financing between the challenger and the incumbent, O’Comartun said Barrett is in “good shape” with days to go before the June 5 election. Recent independent polls have shown Walker ahead of Barrett, though a Democratic survey released Wednesday shows the race a dead heat.

Unlike the DNC, the DGA has aggressively supported the recall, and, win or lose, they, and by extension Hizzoner, have come off as stand up guy.

Good for him.

Billions for the Banksters, But Not One Cent for the Citizens

The European Commission is recommending a massive bailout for the banks, but nothing to help the citizens:

The European Commission has proposed that money set aside for helping governments should be used to bail out ailing banks directly.

The commission also pushed for more integration through a euro-wide “banking union” and a single deposit protection scheme to protect savers.

“Flexibility and speed are of the essence,” its head Jose Manuel Barroso said.

The call comes as fears over the health of Spanish banks have shaken markets.

Bankia, Spain’s fourth largest bank, has asked for another 19bn euros recently from Madrid, which itself is struggling to get spending under control to meet its deficit targets.

“To sever the link between banks and the sovereigns, direct recapitalisation… might be envisaged,” the commission said.

The commission’s comments are part of its analysis of Europe’s response to the debt crisis. “The economic situation in the euro area deteriorated significantly over the last year,” the commission said.

But the answer real pain of ordinary people is for them to suck it up.

This is f%$#ed up.

I Fear That My Son Might Be Ineluctably Evil

I was getting my son to bed, and in a fit of bad parenting, I told him to, “Put his head on the f%$#ing pillow.”

He asked me if his pillow actually did this, and I told him that Rule 34 said yes.

He asked what Rule 34 was, and I said that it was, “If it exists, there’s pr0n for it.”

His response, “So there’s Rubik’s Cube Pr0n?”

I’m afraid to Google it.

We Are Doomed

Felix Salmon explains how the insurance that is not insurance has wiped out the banks and turned them into casinos:

Entities who want to really take on credit risk are called banks, and they do so by lending. People who sell credit protection in the markets, by contrast, are traders and speculators who trust in the liquidity of the CDS market and who are sure that they will be able to get out quickly if things turn against them. And thus is the CDS market used shunt risks off, unseen, into the tails.

Liquidity isn’t just dangerous in the loan market. Look at houses, which used to be highly-illiquid investments characterized by a long-term relationship between a homeowner and a lender. When did things fall apart? When that relationship was replaced by a frenzy of securitization and refinancings, with even 30-year mortgages lasting for just a year or two before they were paid off by someone flipping their house or deciding they needed a cash-out refinance. The more liquid housing became — the closer it came to being piggy bank, to be tapped for cash at any time — the more dangerous it became, as well.

Mr. Salmon does not believe that the CDS will be banned, but I’d like to see them regulated as real insurance, which would prohibit the naked CDS, for the same reason that they don’t allow you to buy insurance that pays you when you torch your neighbor’s home.

That’s been the law of the land for 266 years, but about 20 years ago, we let it slide, with disastrous results.

So How Are We Not Terrorists?

In the New York Times, they have an article on how the Obama administration selects people for their kill list, and according to sources, among those flagged, “Two were teenagers, including a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years.”

We are sending drones with missiles after 17 year old children.

And what is whispered in the article is that a political electoral calculus is motivating much of this, which does not make this better.

Spain weighs Bankia debt issue –

Spain has nationalized the failing bank Bankia and it proposed recapitalizing it with Spanish government debt:

Spain is considering directly injecting its own government debt into BFA-Bankia to help fund the stricken lender’s €19bn nationalisation, in an attempt to sidestep borrowing money directly from the bond markets.

The plan, viewed as highly unorthodox by analysts, involves Madrid issuing Spanish government guaranteed debt to Bankia in return for equity, with the bank then able to deposit the bonds with European Central Bank as collateral for cash.

On Friday Bankia, Spain’s third-biggest lender by assets, announced that the state would invest €19bn in what will be the country’s largest ever bailout, with the government expected to control about 90 per cent of its shares.

This would have the effect of the ECB purchasing Spanish debt, which the ECB (the German Bundesbank) is opposed to.

It would be a win win for everyone, but since there is no pain for the ordinary Spaniard involved, the European Central Bank has rejected the deal:

A Spanish plan to recapitalise Bankia, the troubled lender, by indirectly tapping the European Central Bank for cash, was bluntly rejected as unacceptable by the ECB, European officials said.

News of the rejection came as Spain faces elevated borrowing costs in the bond markets, tries to persuade investors it can contain problems in a banking sector weighed down by €180bn of bad property loans and, on Tuesday, saw its central bank governor stand down early.

Madrid had floated the unorthodox idea over the weekend of recapitalising Bankia by injecting €19bn of sovereign bonds into its parent company, which could then be swapped for cash at the ECB’s three-month refinancing window, avoiding the need to raise the money on bond markets.

The ECB told Madrid that a proper capital injection was needed for Bankia and its plans were in danger of breaching an EU ban on “monetary financing,” or central bank funding of governments, according to two European officials.

At this point, the best action for the Spanish government is to allow the bank to default on its bonds (not its deposits), where I am certain that German bank exposure is high.

The Spanish should not make the same mistake as the Irish.  Do not make the bondholders whole.

If you do, you are simply taxing your citizens to fund foreign investors bets.

There is no obligation, either legally or morally, to do so.

H/t Eschaton

Nope, No Racism Here

Justin Combs excelled at football, and got a 3.75 GPA, and so he got a $54K mertit and athletic scholarship to UCLA.

It appears that the good folks at CNN find this controversial, because it was Shawn “P-Diddy” Combs kid, (no direct link, they don’t deserve it) and they want him to give the money back.

There are plenty of kids who get scholarships whose parents are filthy rich, but they aren’t black, in a profession which is stereotypically black (rap), so there is no question if they should return their scholarships.

I believe that a two word phrase was in the head of whoever whoever mad this post (no name listed) on CNN.

The first word was probably “uppity”, and the second word probably began with the 14th letter in the English alphabet.

H/t Atrios.

Dieing Well

Music impresario Kathi Goldmark:

Kathi Kamen Goldmark, a beloved San Francisco literary impresario and country-rock singer, died May 24 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 63.

Ms. Goldmark died at UCSF Medical Center surrounded by family and friends, including authors Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Maya Angelou. In her last hours, musician Roger McGuinn of the Byrds sang an Irish hymn to her over the phone, and Judy Collins called to sing “Amazing Grace.” As the end drew near, Ms. Goldmark mouthed something toward those around her. It was “Rosebud,” the famous last line from “Citizen Kane.” And she smiled as she whispered it.

“She had a sense of humor right until the end,” said Barry, the humorist. “There has never been a funnier lady.”

I hope I do half as well when my time comes.

Read the rest.

I wish that I had known of her before reading her obituary.