01/21/2012 archive

Random Japan


Official statements

   The commanding general of the Ground Self-Defense Force admitted that he thought Japan “was done for” in the early days of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

   The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has requested that officials in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama allow social welfare experts to sit in on police interrogations of “possibly mentally disabled suspects.”

   Among the themes addressed by the Emperor in his traditional year-end waka poems were his wife’s 77th birthday and the evacuees of the March 11 disaster.

   During a visit to India, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Japan would contribute ¥4.5 billion toward a large-scale development called the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

Palmetto State

Update: Newt Wins! MSNBC @ 7 pm.

Stephen Colbert’s unfunny run for president

By Colbert I. King, The Washington Post

Published: January 20

I don’t find comedian Stephen Colbert’s involvement in the Republican presidential race the least bit funny.

I fail to see the humor in Colbert urging South Carolinians to vote in Saturday’s primary for businessman Herman Cain, who dropped out of the presidential race but whose name remains on the ballot. Throwing away votes degrades a system already brought low by the unprecedented airing of negative ads so early in the nominating process.

Besides, too much has gone into getting the right to vote to treat the ballot like a game. Cain, who held a joint rally with Colbert in South Carolina on Friday, should know better.

Acquiring the millions needed to get a presidential campaign off the ground requires grueling hours of asking people and groups to part with their treasures on behalf of your cause.

Now introduce into that mix an entertainer who takes neither himself nor the political process seriously, who lives for laughs and satire, and has the prominence and enough dough to form a super PAC and try to muscle his way into the nominating process. The result is a mockery of the race.

Maybe I’m becoming a curmudgeon. But I don’t see the humor.

As nearly as I can determine, that is his real name and he is a real contributor to the Washington Post.  You can’t just make this stuff up folks.

Chuck Todd @ Winthrop University

Part the First

Part the Second


Stephen Colbert shows Republicans how to draw a crowd

By David Horsey, L.A. Times

January 21, 2012, 8:16 a.m.

Reporting from Charleston, S.C. — Under the looming live oaks at the College of Charleston on Friday, Stephen Colbert delivered a clinic on how to produce a whiz-bang political rally. Significantly, not one of the Republican candidates this year has exhibited the star power to bring off such an extravaganza themselves.

Before Colbert delivered his satirical address, he allowed Cain a good chunk of time to give a speech very similar to one he delivered the day before to a sparse audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The multitude Colbert provided him was at least 20 times bigger, but Cain’s platitudinous profundities would have been better saved for a Kiwanis luncheon. Even if sexual harassment allegations had not caught up with him, it’s clear that, by now, he still would have been sidelined alongside Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann. Colbert is not only more funny, he is a far sharper analyst of contemporary politics.

The pertinent question raised by Colbert’s attention grab on the day before South Carolina’s primary vote is why the four remaining Republican candidates are not drawing crowds as big and adoring as Colbert’s. Yes, Colbert is a celebrity. He’s an expert entertainer. And it’s not too hard to get a few thousand college kids to skip class on any day of the week. But four years ago at this point in the campaign, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were pulling in crowds as big or bigger. John McCain was packing the gymnasiums pretty well too. And, later in the campaign, Sarah Palin proved she could rock an arena.

This year’s candidates are avoiding big events because they do not want to be photographed in half-empty halls. Gingrich actually refused to speak to the GOP leadership conference because so few Republicans showed up.


Stephen on Morning Joe


What’s up with that Occupy Wall Street stuff?  I don’t get it!

30 Rock

WH Correspondents’ Dinner

He’s talking about you Chuck.

I’m putting this up while it’s still early enough to get to the polls in South Carolina, home of sedition, treason, and slavery (not that I’m under any illusion about the penetration of our readership in the Palmetto State), but I’ll bump it to become our anchor Open Thread when the results start coming in.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Omelets: The Ultimate Fast Food

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

For some time now the medical literature has been countering the myth that the cholesterol in eggs goes straight to the arteries and that eggs should be shunned by anybody committed to healthy eating. Studies have shown that only a small amount of dietary cholesterol passes into the blood and that saturated fats and trans fats have much bigger effects on cholesterol levels. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, the only large study that looked at the effect of egg consumption on heart disease found no correlation between the two, except among people with diabetes, who were a bit more likely to develop heart disease if they ate an egg a day.

Spinach and Garlic Omelet

You can use bagged baby spinach or stemmed and washed bunch spinach for this simple omelet with Mediterranean flavors.

Beet Green and Feta Omelet

Cook up the greens when you get home to make a meal in minutes.

Mushroom and Herb Omelet

You can get fancy and use wild mushrooms, but it’s much more economical and equally satisfying to make them with cultivated creminis or white button mushrooms.

Southwestern Potato and Celery Omelet

This spicy omelet is much lighter than traditional cheese-packed Southwestern omelets.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Omelet

Sun-dried tomatoes are very much at home in an omelet.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Bernie Sanders: We Must Stop This Corporate Takeover of American Democracy

The corporate barbarians are through the gate of American democracy. Not satisfied with their all-pervasive influence on our culture, economy and legislative processes, they want more. They want it all.

Two years ago, the United States supreme court betrayed our Constitution and those who fought to ensure that its protections are enjoyed equally by all persons regardless of religion, race or gender by engaging in an unabashed power-grab on behalf of corporate America. In its now infamous decision in the Citizens United case, five justices declared that corporations must be treated as if they are actual people under the Constitution when it comes to spending money to influence our elections, allowing them for the first time to draw on the corporate checkbook – in any amount and at any time – to run ads explicitly for or against specific candidates.

What’s next … a corporate right to vote?

Don’t laugh. Just this month, the Republican National Committee filed an amicus brief in a US appeals court contending that the natural extension of the Citizens United rationale is that the century-old ban on corporate contributions directly to candidates and political parties is similarly unconstitutional. They want corporations to be able to sponsor candidates and parties directly while claiming with a straight face this would not result in any sort of corruption. And while, this month, they take no issue with corporations being subject to the existing contribution limits, anyone paying attention knows that eliminating such caps will be corporate America’s next prize in its brazen ambition for absolute control over our elections.

Mary Ellen O’Connor: Why Obama’s ‘Targeted Killing’ is Worse than Bush’s Torture

Both are legally prohibited but speciously justified by the White House. The difference? Obama’s policy kills innocent bystanders

By June 2004, it was confirmed that the US was using torture at secret detention sites and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It was in that month that piles of “torture memos” were released to the public. Torture did not officially end until President Obama took office in January 2009.

A similar story is emerging with respect to targeted killing. The Obama administration has produced its own infamous memo; like many of the torture memos, it was written by lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. It concerns something that many consider worse than torture: the memo apparently seeks to justify “targeted killing”.

Calls have gone out for the release of the memo, but there really is no need. We did need to see the torture memos, but not because anyone with legal expertise on the subject would be enlightened by the analysis – torture is absolutely prohibited. The legal analysis could only be specious. Rather, prior to mid 2004, the use of torture, rendition and secret detention were only rumored. The fact of the memos gave credence to speculation.

Ilyse Hogue: What if ‘Citizens United’ Actually United the Citizens?

After a long, dark period of stagnant progressive momentum and pay-to-play politics, this week saw a flurry of progressive victories that could upset the conventional wisdom about a post-Citizens United world.

This morning’s announcement by Harry Reid that the Senate is postponing the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) vote would have been almost unimaginable as recently as a week ago, when PIPA and its House counterpart, SOPA (the Stop On-line Piracy Act), were considered done deals. Only a handful of disgruntled geeks stood in the way of an industry power grab that would have blessed online censorship and stifled innovation. But the bills’ promoters failed to anticipate the power of “Blackout Wednesday” to popularize the outrage. Suddenly, it wasn’t just geeks. Congress started fielding calls from people unable to sell couches on Craigslist and harried parents of students desperate to consult Wikipedia for school papers. Thus sounded the death knell for the bills.

While the tactical decision to pull down popular sites in protest of these bills were tailored to the Internet blackout bills, the other two major victories this week-the rejection of the massive Keystone oil pipeline and the submission of 1.9 million signatures to recall union-busting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker-were also made possible by fusing old-school community organizing with innovative netroots strategies.

New York Time Editorial: Egypt’s Economic Crisis

In the year since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Egypt has faced many challenges: the military-led government’s brutality against protesters and pro-democracy groups, its resistance to handing power to civilian leaders and the rise of Islamists in the country’s first free elections. Now worsening economic conditions are further sabotaging hopes for a democratic future.

The country’s foreign currency reserves have fallen from a peak of $36 billion to about $10 billion and could run out entirely by March. The currency is under severe pressure, and a steep drop in the exchange rate could bring painful inflation and more social unrest. Youth unemployment is about 25 percent, a dangerous situation where 60 percent of the citizens are 30 and under.

Egyptians want jobs, education and a say in governance. Many are justifiably angry about the military’s autocratic control – and will be angrier still if economic conditions deteriorate further. They aren’t the only ones with a stake in the outcome. Egypt is the fourth-largest economy in the Middle East. Its success, or failure, will have a huge impact on the region and beyond.

John Nichols Forget Romney, Gingrich Is Running Against ‘Liberal Media’-and It Might Work

Fifteen years ago, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich was arguing that President Clinton’s personal foibles were fair game for political debate, and ultimately justification for impeachment.

Now, as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination as a “moral values” candidate, Gingrich is suddenly facing charges, raised by an ex-wife, about his own personal foibles. Those questions arose on the eve of the final debate before the critical South Carolina primary, in which Gingrich has surged to a top-tier position. The former Speaker needed one more opportunity to distinguish himself as the meanest dog in the GOP junkyard-a socialist-ripping pit bull as compared with the French poodle that is Mitt Romney.

And he got it in Thursday night’s last pre-primary debate. [..]

The man who raised tough questions about Bill Clinton’s shaky claim to moral authority blamed a media personality for asking tough questions about his shaky claim to moral authority. Then Gingrich announced that he was “tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

Reasonable people can debate whether Obama has been “protected” by the media.

On Thursday night, however, that wasnt what Newt Gingrich was really complaining about.

What he was really complaining about was John King’s refusal to protect Newt Gingrich.

Maureen Dowd: Opening Newt’s Marriage

Right now, you are probably asking yourself whether two divorces, a history of adultery and an ex-wife who says you asked for an open marriage would be enough to disqualify a person from becoming president of the United States.

O.K., pretend that was what you were asking yourself.

Sex was one of the topics very much on the minds of voters as South Carolina prepared to go to the polls on Saturday. Also, there was the big debate, in which Newt Gingrich said that asking about the open marriage thing was “despicable.” That was also when Mitt Romney slipped and referred to health reform in Massachusetts as “Romneycare,” which I enjoyed very much.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the campaign, Herman Cain announced that he was endorsing “the people” for president. On behalf of the people, I would like to say that, if elected, we promise to balance the budget, release Mitt Romney’s tax returns and pass a law against driving to Canada with an Irish setter tied to the roof of the car.

On this Day In History January 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 21 is the 21st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 344 days remaining until the end of the year (345 in leap years).

On this day in 1911, the first Monte Carlo Rally takes place.

The Monte Carlo Rally (officially Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo) is a rallying event organised each year by the Automobile Club de Monaco who also organises the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique . The rally takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France.

From its inception in 1911 by Prince Albert I, this rally, under difficult and demanding conditions, was an important means of testing the latest improvements and innovations to automobiles. Winning the rally gave the car a great deal of credibility and publicity. The 1966 event was the most controversial in the history of the Rally. The first four finishers driving three Mini-Coopers, Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk, and Roger Clark‘s 4th-placed Ford Cortina “were excluded for having iodine vapour, single filament bulbs in their standard headlamps instead of double-filament dipping bulbs.”  This elevated Pauli Toivonen (Citroen ID) into first place overall. The controversy that followed damaged the credibility of the event. The headline in Motor Sport: “The Monte Carlo Fiasco.”

From 1973 to 2008 the rally was held in January as the first event of the FIA World Rally Championship, but since 2009 it has been the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) programme. As recently as 1991, competitors were able to choose their starting points from approximately five venues roughly equidistant from Monte Carlo (one of Monaco’s administrative areas) itself. With often varying conditions at each starting point, typically comprising dry tarmac, wet tarmac, snow, and ice, sometimes all in a single stage of the rally. This places a big emphasis on tyre choices, as a driver has to balance the need for grip on ice and snow with the need for grip on dry tarmac. For the driver, this is often a difficult choice as the tyres that work well on snow and ice normally perform badly on dry tarmac.

The Automobile Club de Monaco confirmed on 19 July 2010 that the 79th Monte-Carlo Rally would form the opening round of the new Intercontinental Rally Challenge season. To mark the centenary event, the Automobile Club de Monaco have also confirmed that Glasgow, Barcelona, Warsaw and Marrakesh has been selected as start points for the rally.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120120. A Brief History of The Who. 1974

Whilst 1973 was a roller coaster year, 1974 was downright bizarre.  The main reason for that was the extreme domination of time and energy by the film version of Tommy.

This is as close to writing a piece about that motion picture as I am going to get, because I really did not like it very well, and though that it was just a caricature of the outstanding album.  I also blame that motion picture in part for the demise of Moon a few years later, mostly because of Moon’s relationship with Oliver Reed.

This year also provided a dearth of material from the band, with only two singles and one album being released.  There were also personal conflicts, particularly betwixt the band and their management.