Month: January 2015

Pass the Popcorn

Pass the Popcorn

The DoJ has opened an inquiry on Michelle and Marcus Bachmann for campaign finance violations in her 2012 run for President:

Representative Michele Bachmann’s presidential hopes ended 20 months ago, but her brief and chaotic campaign continues to be the focus of ethics investigations.

The latest is a federal inquiry into whether an outside “super PAC” improperly coordinated strategy with Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign staff, including her husband, in violation of election laws.

The Department of Justice demanded records from the super PAC last week of its finances and its communications with Mrs. Bachmann; Marcus Bachmann, her husband; and former staff members, according to a grand jury subpoena reviewed by The New York Times.

The investigation appears to stem from a complaint a former campaign staff member made to the Federal Election Commission and to the F.B.I. The staff member told of overhearing the president of the super PAC asking a Bachmann senior adviser about buying advertising on radio and TV stations in Des Moines ahead of the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3, 2012.

Her political career is already over, but some jail time would be a nice message to those who think that they are anointed by God to rule over us.

The message is, “Pride goeth before a fall.”

For the Love of Ghod, Make it Stop!!!

Kind of Like Norman Rockwell ……… On Acid

Caribu Barbie has announced that she is seriously considering running for President in 2016:

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told The Washington Post in an interview Friday that she is “seriously interested” in running for the White House in 2016.

“You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested,” Palin said, when asked to clarify her thinking about a possible presidential bid.

Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, said she stood by comments she made Thursday in Las Vegas to ABC News, where she first expressed enthusiasm about potentially competing for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I am. As I said yesterday, I’m really interested in the opportunity to serve at some point,” Palin said Friday, as former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a potential 2016 rival, looked on.

She also just delivered a speech at Steve King’s wingnut extravaganza “Freedom Forum”.

It appears that her teleprompter froze, and she had to “wing it”.

The speech was so remarkable that the DNC communications director issued the following two wrod press release:

DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee issued the following statement in response to Palin: “Thank you!”
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 24, 2015

While I am sure that Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore are rejoicing, but the rest of us are in for some very “interesting” times. (as in the Chinese curse)

F%$# the Cable Companies

The FCC is proposing that broadband be defined as 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload, and the cable companies are having kittens:

The cable lobby is opposed to a Federal Communications Commission plan to define “broadband” as speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps up.

Customers do just fine with lower speeds, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) wrote in an FCC filing Thursday (thanks to the Washington Post’s Brian Fung for pointing it out). 25Mbps/3Mbps isn’t necessary to meet the legal definition of “high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology,” the NCTA said.

“Notably, no party provides any justification for adopting an upload speed benchmark of 3Mbps,” NCTA Counsel Matthew Brill wrote. “And the two parties that specifically urge the Commission to adopt a download speed benchmark of 25 Mbps—Netflix and Public Knowledge—both offer examples of applications that go well beyond the ‘current’ and ‘regular’ uses that ordinarily inform the Commission’s inquiry under Section 706″ of the Telecommunications Act.

Hypothetical use cases showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps “dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user,” the NCTA said.

“Netflix, for instance, bases its call for a 25Mbps download threshold on what it believes consumers need for streaming 4K and ultra-HD video content—despite the fact that only a tiny fraction of consumers use their broadband connections in this manner, and notwithstanding the consensus among others in the industry that 25Mbps is significantly more bandwidth than is needed for 4K streaming,” the NCTA said. “Meanwhile, Public Knowledge asserts in conclusory fashion that an ‘average’ US household constantly streams at least three high-definition movies simultaneously while also running various ‘online backup services and other applications’—without providing any evidence indicating that such usage is at all ‘average.'”

The commission defines broadband as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up but hasn’t changed the definition since 2010. The FCC is required under Section 706 to determine whether broadband is being deployed to Americans in a reasonable and timely way, and the group must take action to accelerate deployment if the answer is negative. Raising the definition’s speeds provides more impetus to take actions that promote competition and remove barriers to investment, such as a potential move to preempt state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects.

Here is the money quote:

Though a majority of Americans can purchase broadband of at least 100Mbps, Wheeler has focused on the lack of competition at higher Internet speeds. While 75 percent of American homes have at least two options for wired broadband of 4Mbps/1Mbps, only 25 percent have a choice of at least two providers at the 25Mbps/3Mbps threshold:

4/1 download is the telco’s old DSL, which hasn’t been upgraded since the early 200s.

What’s more, it never will be upgraded, as the phone companies have decided that there is not sufficient profit there.

By upgrading the definition of broadband to something that actually describes the way that broadband is used today, it makes it far more difficult for states to prevent municipal broadband.

Seriously, just f%$# the cable companies.

Come to think of it, “F%$# the Cable Companies,” would be a good platform for a political party.

F%$# Me! I Agree With a Fox News Doctor!

He’s right, you know

Fox Doc Marc Siegel has condemned the anti-vaxxer movement over the Measels outbreak in Disney Land:

Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel lashed out on Thursday at parents who refused to give their kids vaccines for putting everyone else at risk.

Reports this week said that at least 70 cases of measles had been confirmed at Disney theme parks, with 62 of those cases occurring where the anti-vaccination movement is thriving in Orange Country, California.

During his Thursday appearance on Fox News, Siegel, who is an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, wasted no time in blaming anti-vaxxers for the outbreak.

“Let me be clear on this, I see no debate whatsoever. Period,” Siegel said. “This is the greatest vaccine that has ever been created in the history of vaccines.”

The doctor pointed out that “measles is the most contagious virus known to man.”

Your mouth to God’s ear, Doctor Siegel.

I cannot believe that I am posting a Fox News clip with approval.

Well, Now We Know Why Andrew Cuomo Killed his Corruption Comission

Sheldon Silver who has been speaker of the New York State Assembly, has been indicted by the Feds on corruption charges:

His power unbending, his whims often unexplained, Sheldon Silver, in his two decades as speaker of the State Assembly, became a seemingly indestructible presence at the nucleus of the New York political world, a steady advocate for liberal causes and a master tactician in Albany’s closed and entrenched way of governance.

But Mr. Silver’s arrest on Thursday on corruption charges has thrown into question that arrangement, in which the governor and the leaders of the two chambers of the Legislature privately decide the most crucial policies of the state. It is a potentially seismic shift in power whose reverberations may be felt throughout the state, from the speaker’s home district on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the grounds of the State Capitol.

Until now, Albany lawmakers accustomed to what prosecutors called a “show-me-the-money culture” have taken comfort in knowing that their most powerful figure was unassailable — untouched despite years of inquiries, suspicions and rumors of impropriety.

It appears that the crux of the matter is that Silver was paid large sums by his law firm for work which either did not justify the payments, or for which he did no work.

In essence, he is accused of using this law firm to launder bribes.

Here is hoping that he sees the writing on the walls, and starts singing like a canary.

Clearing out the cesspool in Albany would be a good thing.

This is Not a Dilemma Unless You Let the House of Saud Make it One

The collapse of the Yemeni government under the assault of the Houthi militias is a good thing for everyone but the House of Saud:

The American-backed government of Yemen abruptly collapsed Thursday night, leaving the country leaderless as it is convulsed by an increasingly powerful force of pro-Iran rebels and a resurgent Qaeda.

The resignation of the president, prime minister and cabinet took American officials by surprise and heightened the risks that Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, would become even more of a breeding ground for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has claimed responsibility for audacious anti-Western attacks — including the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo in Paris this month.

The Houthi are Shia, and Al Qaeda is virulently anti-Shia, and if they take power, they will undoubtedly be an implacable foe of the terrorist organization.

This is not an issue for the United States.

In fact, a Houthi dominated government is likely to be better at fighting Al Qaeda, because they understand the genocidal ferocity of that group against Shiites.

The only people who should have a problem is the House of Saud, who have been applying pressure for years to ensure the complete disenfranchisement of Shiites pretty much everywhere.

Unfortunately, the US foreign policy establishment does not understand that their foreign policy interests are not the same as those of the Saudis.

Scholars in Pakistan Say What I’ve Been Saying for Years

That the prevalence of terrorism in the Muslim world is largely funded by the House of Saud:

Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada has accused the Saudi government of creating instability across the Muslim world, including Pakistan, through distribution of money for promoting its ideology.

Addressing a two-day ‘Ideas Conclave’ organised by the “Jinnah Institute” think tank in Islamabad, the federal minister said ‘the time has come to stop the influx of Saudi money into Pakistan’.

Now if only someone like a US Senator were to issue a similar condemnation.

It is patently clear that the font from which international Jihad springs is the pocketbook of the House of Saud.

They fund the schools where Jihadis are created, the social welfare organizations which they fund are Islamist, and they make a concerted effort to export their home grown nut-jobs to other Arab and Muslim nations, where they are some else’s problem.

H/t Emptywheel

Cue the Internecine Clusterf%$#

The Saudi King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has died at age 90, and will be replaced by his brother, Salman ibn Abdilaziz Al Saud, who is 79 and is rumored to be suffering from dementia:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has died at age 90, state television reported early on Friday, with his brother Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz succeeding him as the new ruler of the world’s top oil exporter.

King Salman, 79, immediately appointed his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir, a move seen to avert widespread speculation about the path of the royal succession.

State television said King Abdullah, who took power in 2005 after the death of his brother King Fahd, died of pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital on December 31, state media reported at the time.

It’s pretty clear that Salman is a place holder.

It is tough to figure out what is going on in the mess that is the dynastic mess that is the House of Saud, but a year ago, I would a have argued that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was next in line after King Salman, but seeing as how he has been the driving force behind backing the group now known as ISIS/ISIL/IS while trying to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, and it appears that he was fired from his position as Director General of Saudi Intelligence Agency as a result.

This sort of dynastic instability has does not bode well for the future of the House of Saud, which to my mind, is a good thing.

Not Enough………

The SEC has fined Standard & Poor’s ratings agency and banned them from rating mortgage backed (MBS) securities for a year:

Financial companies are still paying the price for the crisis of 2009, as Standard & Poor’s showed when it agreed on Wednesday to pay the US government and two states more than $77m to settle charges that it inflated its ratings of mortgage-backed securities.

In its first enforcement action against a major rating agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused S&P of fraudulent misconduct, saying the company loosened standards on its ratings to drum up business in recent years.

The agreement requires S&P to pay more than $58m to the SEC, $12m to New York and $7m to Massachusetts.

As part of its agreement with the SEC, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, a division of McGraw Hill Financial, will take a “timeout” from rating certain types of mortgage-backed securities for a year.

“These settlements involve findings of intentional fraud in 2011 and 2012, well after the financial crisis,” said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, on a call with reporters. “The financial crisis may be behind us, but these cases are an important reminder that the race-to-the-bottom behavior exists even though the financial crisis has ended.”

S&P said in a statement that it did not admit or deny any of the charges.

It’s likely the first in a line of settlements between S&P and government agencies. In 2013, the Justice Department and attorneys general from other states filed civil lawsuits against the company for misrepresenting risks in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

“This is the first time a major credit rating agency has been subject to a timeout,” Ceresney said. “It’s unprecedented.”

It is only unprecedented because the Obama administration has been so deferential to the banksters.

It’s chump change for them, and they are a (relatively) small player in the MBS ratings game, so they will be crying to the bank.

What should have happened is a criminal indictment, which would have been immediately followed by an Arthur Andersen style implosion.

That would make the banksters sit up and notice.

The Push-Back Against the Lindsey Graham Presidential Needs to Get Less Awful

Let’s be clear here:  Senator Lindsey Graham is a blithering idiot, whose only claim to policy expertise is his playing ventriloquist dummy to petulant child Senator John Sidney McCain III’s harebrained “Forever War” foreign policy initiatives.

This is a guy who has literally been wrong on absolutely every foreign policy initiative that he has ever been a part of.

He makes Richard Bruce Cheney look level headed and competent.

These are all legitimate reasons for him to be criticized, and ridiculed, for his recent statements about running for President.

There is also the issue of his personal affect.

Specifically, for lack of a better term, he minces almost as much as Michelle Bachmann’s husband Marcus.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

So, over the past few days, we have been bombarded with tasteless cartoons and Photoshop jobs mocking the (never Married, not that there’s anything wrong with that) distinguished gentleman from South Carolina.  (I’m talking to you, Howie Klein)

Lindsey Graham sucks, both as a potential candidate, and even more so as a potential President.

It simply does not matter whatever else he does, or does not suck.

Republican Family Values in Action

The Teabagger is the one on the Left

Teabagger heroine, and terrorist wannabe, Holly Fisher has been exposed exposed cheating on her military veteran husband:

In July, liberals were delighted by the moronic antics of a woman who quickly became known as “Holly Hobby Lobby.” Shortly following the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling that allowed companies to inject their religion into female employees’ healthcare, Holly Fisher decided to poorly “troll” liberals a bit.

Our heroine bravely stood in front of a Hobby Lobby store wearing a “PRO-LIFE” t-shirt and holding a Chick-Fil-A cup. She captioned her photo “HOW TO MAKE A LIBERAL’S HEAD EXPLODE,” and set it loose on Twitter.


This photo gained Holly the admiration of the conservative world. Quickly, she became a hero to all who have trouble figuring out how to work a microwave. [I love that turn of phrase MGS] Unfortunately, her new photo — the one conservatives adored — bore a striking resemblance to “the White Widow,” a jihadist suicide bomber who blew herself and four other people up in 2004.


“The conservative woman behind several viral photos cheated on her combat veteran husband repeatedly & then lied about it, has learned,” [The world’s worst undeserving claimant of the term “Journalist”, and member of the class Myxogastria, Charles C.] Johnson wrote.

According to Johnson, multiple sources within the Tea Party confirmed that Fisher had a prolonged affair with Joel Frewa, a now-former video editor for the Tea Party News Network. Johnson says Frewa resigned after word of the affair began to leak out.

“The affair took place at a “Restoring the Dream” event, a Faith & Freedom conference, and on Election night 2014,” Johnson said.

The irony here is delicious, but it is far from surprising.

H/t Blade at the Stellar Parthenon.

Never Underestimate the Benefits of Some Good Beaver

It looks like one the consequences of the California drought is that the state will be aggressively reintroducing beavers to mitigate problems from the current lack of rainfall:

Californians are crossing their fingers for more rain after three punishing years of drought have left streams, rivers and wetland parched.

One animal has the potential to restore these dry landscapes.

With their industrial buck teeth and flat tails, beavers and their dams offer a defense against drought, a solution to reversing the effects of climate change. The rodents are known as ecosystem engineers. And they once populated most of California (and the Bay Area) until fur traders nearly wiped them out in the 19th century,

“This state has lost more of its wetlands than all other states, and beavers can rebuild those wetlands,” said Rick Lanman of the Institute for Historical Ecology in Los Altos. “Knowing that it is native should help guide restoration efforts.”

Beaver dams bestow benefits to the environment that we humans can’t easily copy. They turn land into a sponge for water. Their gnawing and nesting promotes richer soil and slows down water, improving imperiled fish habitat. Their dams raise water tables, nourishing shrubbery alongside streams that stabilize eroding banks and add habitat for birds and deer. They also help the endangered California Red-legged frog.

After beavers move to a new area, at night, they drag a tree across a shallow stream to start a dam. They carry rocks and mud with their paws and branches with their big incisors. Water in these beaver ponds would otherwise flow away. So it’s no surprise that thirsty western states are turning to the furry critters with open arms.


Government agencies are hosting a workshop series in a few western states and writing a guide on how to use beavers for restoration. California Fish and Wildlife is starting to embrace the beaver, a shift beaver advocates applaud.

“Our effort now is to show its many sides, sides that have always existed,” said Kevin Shaffer, a fisheries manager for state Fish and Wildlife. “We are investigating how beaver promote habitat and water conservation through their habitat manipulation. We are also creating public and scientific information about the beaver, its ecological role and current regulations and laws affecting its management and conservation.”

In addition to being highly effective, they work without pay.

It’s a win-win.

Hello? It’s Time for the FBI to Visit and Start Breaking Heads!

Last week, I noted that the County DA had charged police with murder for shooting a homeless man.

Well, now the City Attorney and the Police are conspiring to exclude prosecutors from police involved shootings:

This week, Bernalillo County (N.M.) District Attorney Kari Brandenburg charged two Albuquerque police officers with murder in the killing of homeless man James Boyd. The shooting was captured on video and widely covered in the national media. Brandenburg’s decision comes on the heels of the controversial non-indictments in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which sparked protests around the country. It didn’t take long for Albuquerque police and their supporters to react.

 A top prosecutor for District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s office was shut out of a briefing after a fatal police shooting near San Mateo and Constitution NE on Tuesday evening, Brandenburg told KRQE News 13.

Police officials and others were gathering to discuss the most recent developments in the investigation a few hours after the shooting, Brandenburg said. Chief Deputy DA Sylvia Martinez attempted to join the briefing, but Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy would not let Martinez attend.

What Brandenburg said happened Tuesday evening would be an unprecedented move by city of Albuquerque officials, and it comes a day after Brandenburg charged two APD officers with murder in the March shooting death of homeless camper James Boyd.

Levy invoked the charges in barring Martinez from the briefing, according to Brandenburg.

“Sylvia was told that our office has a conflict of interest because we charged the officers,” she said.

Reached by telephone for comment Tuesday evening, Levy, who has for years worked as APD’s attorney, refused to answer questions . . .


Prosecutors’ presence at the scenes of police shootings and inside the investigatory briefings has been ubiquitous for decades here. In fact, the DA’s participation in the investigations is memorialized in a written agreement with APD and other agencies signed in 2004.If true, this is really reprehensible behavior and an abdication of office on the part of both police and the deputy city attorney. It’s also just the latest example of law enforcement officers and their supporters demonstrating incredible petulance in retaliation for public scrutiny or the rare attempt to hold rogue cops accountable for their actions.

(Emphasis mine)

This is deeply corrupt.

What’s more it’s deeply evil.

It is an attempt to create an absolute impunity for bad cops.

The Feds need to be involved, and they need to kick some major league ass.