01/22/2012 archive

NFL 2012 AFC Championship- Ravens @ Patriots

I could drag this out but why bother?

The unfortunate thing about Throwball is that I saw enough last weekend to satisfy me for an entire season and make my picks.

The Ravens didn’t show anything against the Texans that leads me to believe there will be a surprising upset against the execrable Patsies who at least had the good grace to eliminate Tebowmentum from our national discourse.

I only hope the Ravens do sufficiently well to make the point crystal clear.

Pre-game hype happening on CBS right now.

Rant of the Week: Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person’s Rant this Friday hit the mark. Keith take on the hypocrisy of Dr. Keith Ablow, “psychology pundit on the political whorehouse that is Fox News”, and his defense of Newt Gingrich’s lack of “Family Values.”

Worst Persons: Steve Beshear, Newt Gingrich and Keith Ablow


But the winner? On the Gingrichian theme. Dr. Keith Ablow – he used to have a talk show on TV, but recently has been reduced to co-authoring a book with “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck and being the psychology pundit on the political whorehouse that is Fox News.

And, he may have admitted the single dumbest thing yet said in this campaign. I mean, Rick Perry is embarrassed for this guy.

Ablow writes that – if you are coldly analytical about Gingrich being a serial marrier and philanderer – you will realize it would make him a great president. Quoting:

One, “three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of theirs lives with him.”

Two, he writes, “Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich is already married.”

Three, he writes, “One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.”

You left out four – he betrayed the first two, one of them while she was fighting cancer.

But wait, this gets worse.

Albow writes, “So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history. If Newt Gingrich were to become president, we would need to worry that another nation – perhaps a little younger than ours – would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president.

So what you are saying, Dr. Ablow, is that voters need to worry about whether or not Newt Gingrich is loyal to the United States of America?

Dr. Keith Ablow – I think you may be mispronouncing that last name, buddy – today’s “Worst Person” in the World.

On This Day In History January 22

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 22 is the 22nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 343 days remaining until the end of the year (344 in leap years).

On this day in 1968, the NBC-TV show, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, debuted “from beautiful downtown Burbank” on this night. The weekly show, produced by George Schlatter and Ed Friendly, then Paul Keyes, used 260 pages of jokes in each hour-long episode. The first 14 shows earned “Laugh-In” (as it was commonly called) 4 Emmys. And “you bet your bippy”, Nielsen rated it #1 for two seasons. Thanks to an ever-changing cast of regulars including the likes of Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Arte Johnson, Goldie Hawn, Ruth Buzzi, JoAnne Worley, Gary Owens, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawson, Judy Carne, President Richard Nixon (“Go ahead, sock it to me!”), the show became the highest-rated comedy series in TV history.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to May 14, 1973. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and was broadcast over NBC. It originally aired as a one-time special on September 9, 1967 and was such a success that it was brought back as a series, replacing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on Mondays at 8 pm (EST).

The title, Laugh-In, came out of events of the 1960s hippie culture, such as “love-ins” or “be-ins.” These were terms that were, in turn, derived from “sit-ins”, common in protests associated with civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the time.

The show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches, many of which conveyed sexual innuendo or were politically charged. The co-hosts continued the exasperated straight man (Rowan) and “dumb” guy (Martin) act which they had established as nightclub comics. This was a continuation of the “dumb Dora” acts of vaudeville, best popularized by Burns and Allen. Rowan and Martin had a similar tag line, “Say goodnight, Dick”.

Laugh-In had its roots in the humor of vaudeville and burlesque, but its most direct influences were from the comedy of Olsen and Johnson (specifically, their free-form Broadway revue Hellzapoppin’), the innovative television works of Ernie Kovacs, and the topical satire of That Was The Week That Was.

Freedom’s Just Another Word

Where have all our freedoms gone? Have they eroded before our eyes because we failed to use them by demanding that our elected representatives protect the Constitution? Did irrational fear of an unseen enemy with no country, armed with a fanatical hatred scare us into allowing those freedoms to be abrogated? Apparently our current government from the executive to the judicial seem to think that the Constitution is a nice idea but its time has passed. We’re at war with “terror” and “terror” will never surrender. Law Professor Jonathan Turley, in an op-ed written shortly after President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, enumerated the ten reasons the US is no loner the land of the free:

1. Assassination of U.S. citizens

Last year, President Obama went further than George W. Bush would have dared with the ordered assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaqi. Just as the Bush administration justified torture, Pres. Obama justified targeted assassination of an American citizen without due process in a secret memo from administration lawyers. The administration cavalierly calling it “due process in war.” Yet, the US is hypocritical enough to criticize other countries for doing the same.

2. Indefinite detention

Under the NDAA the president can indefinitely detain a citizen that is suspected of terrorism and allow the military to hold them. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying that he would never do that, signing statement have no force of law and are not binding, either for Obama or any future president. Presidents have been known to change their minds, Obama does so on a regular basis.  

3. Arbitrary justice

The president decides who will be tried in the Federal courts or by a military tribunal, a system, as Prof. Turley points out, “that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections.” Yet countries like China and Egypt have rejected tribunals as an alternative to civilian courts.

Those first three reasons totally disregard the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments

4. Warrantless searches

Under the Patriot Act of 2001, and reinforced by Pres. Obama in 2011, the government can force companies and businesses to turn over citizens records, everything from finances to library records without a warrant and bar the company from telling the targets.

Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?

5. Secret evidence

The government under the guise of national security says it doesn’t have to show evidence it deems secret for national security thus forcing the dismissal of lawsuits brought against it for illegal detention and torture. This is how the Obama Justice Department has protected the war criminals from the Bush administration not only from civil liability but criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity. As Prof Turley describes, “This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence.”

Star Chamber?

6. War Crimes

Since 2009, the President Obama has refused to allow the prosecution of anyone responsible for waterboarding and torture. This in complete disregard of treaty obligations and the Nuremberg principles of international law. The Obama administration went so far as to pressure countries such as Spain to drop criminal investigations of war crimes committed by the Bush administration. Yet the US continues to reserve the right to prosecute war criminals in other countries. ”

“Do as I say not as I do” is the attitude that has fed the hatred of terrorists, as well as, disdain from countries like China when we criticize their human rights violations.

7. Secret court

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is the United States’ “secret court”, the “star chamber“, that operates in total secrecy. Created in 1978, the eleven judges of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FIS) consider and rule on applications by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct electronic surveillance anywhere within the United States. When FISA came up for renewal under the Bush administration it expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. Then Sen. Barack Obama said that he would filibuster the renewal unless certain portions of the bill were fixed to ensure that it did not violate the Constitution. Needless to say, Sen Obama not only did not filibuster the FISA, he voted for it, promising to “fix it” if he was elected president. That was a lie. In 2011, not only did President Obama not fix it, he expanded it to in include secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group.

8.  Immunity from judicial review

The Obama administration has pushed for, and granted, immunity of telecommunications companies that assist in warantless surveillance. Citizens who have had their privacy violated by the government no longer have redress.

9. Continual monitoring of citizens

So far the Obama administration has successfully defended in the courts its view that it has the right to use GPS to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. The case, Jones v. United States, could overturn Katz v. United States which is celebrated as saving privacy in the United States, articulated the principle that “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.” That 1967 decision reversed a long erosion of privacy protection and required greater use of warrants by the government.

10. Extraordinary renditions

While the Obama administration has insisted that it no longer transfers persons into the custody of other countries where they could be held and tortured, it is still claiming the right to to order such transfers, including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

Prof. Turley goes in to quote those who are justifying these abuses as saying it’s all due to the times we in which we live. But as he so importantly notes in conclusion:

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely. [..]

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

What was that “change” that was promised three years ago?

Guzzle to Zatch

Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Terms Laid Out, But Holdout AGs Not Signed On

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Saturday January 21, 2012 9:38 am

When I started digging into whether this Monday meeting with HUD and DoJ officials to go over a proposal for a foreclosure fraud settlement was legitimate, I couldn’t find one state Attorney General who mattered actually committed to showing up. When I say AGs who “matter,” I mean the ones who have been critical of a settlement in the past. I mean the Justice Democrats. I mean Eric Schneiderman in New York, Beau Biden in Delaware, Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, Kamala Harris in California, not to mention the AGs from Hawaii, New Hampshire, Missouri, Mississippi, Maryland, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon and Montana who showed up (either themselves or representatives) at the meeting in DC last week to discuss alternatives to a settlement. I mean them. They aren’t going to Chicago, by all accounts.

My sense is that this settlement proposal comes from the Obama Administration, Iowa AG Tom Miller and the small group of negotiators on the executive committee of state AGs, and pretty much nobody else. There’s just no guarantee that any of the Justice Democrats – or any of the Republicans, for that matter – will agree to any of it.

The Administration is trying to put the squeeze on the state AGs, particularly California, dangling $10 billion in “aid” in the deal. The aim, as Marcy Wheeler writes, is to increase pressure on Kamala Harris to agree to the settlement. The core issues haven’t changed, however. Harris called the settlement inadequate last year and it remains just as inadequate. This is a $25 billion settlement when there is $700 billion in negative equity in the country. This is a settlement that, according to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, will help 1 million homeowners, when 10.7 million are underwater and millions of others have been wrongfully foreclosed upon. This is a settlement that could put $17 billion of credits toward principal reduction (the rest of the money would go to legal aid, refis, short sales, token payoffs to foreclosed borrowers, and penalties), when there is more than twice as much sitting unused in an account as part of HAMP.

And these credits would get paid mostly by the owners of mortgage-backed securities, investors rather than the banks themselves.

According to previous reports, investors would not have approval on the modifications. So the majority of the settlement, where banks get the release of liability, would get paid with other people’s money. Servicers actually make out because they would reimburse themselves for the loan modifications, taking money that would otherwise go to the investors. The investors, in short, would get massively screwed by this deal.

But again, I’ve seen no evidence that anyone outside of the small circle of the Administration and the AGs on the executive committee negotiating the deal actually agree to it. Call it the 12-state deal, rather than the 50-state one. This is only closer to getting done in the sense that the folks who have wanted to cave all along are ready to do so.

Speaking of caving, why on earth would the Obama Administration in general and Eric Holder in particular want to do that?

Insight: Top Justice officials connected to mortgage banks

By Scot J. Paltrow, Reuters

Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:31am EST

(Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud, a Reuters inquiry shows.

The firm, Covington & Burling, is one of Washington’s biggest white shoe law firms. Law professors and other federal ethics experts said that federal conflict of interest rules required Holder and Breuer to recuse themselves from any Justice Department decisions relating to law firm clients they personally had done work for.

As Reuters reported in 2011, public records show large numbers of mortgage promissory notes with apparently forged endorsements that were submitted as evidence to courts.

There also is evidence of almost routine manufacturing of false mortgage assignments, documents that transfer ownership of mortgages between banks or to groups of investors. In foreclosure actions in courts mortgage assignments are required to show that a bank has the legal right to foreclose.

In an interview in late 2011, Raymond Brescia, a visiting professor at Yale Law School who has written about foreclosure practices said, “I think it’s difficult to find a fraud of this size on the U.S. court system in U.S. history.”

Holder has resisted calls for a criminal investigation since October 2010, when evidence of widespread “robo-signing” first surfaced. That involved mortgage servicer employees falsely signing and swearing to massive numbers of affidavits and other foreclosure documents that they had never read or checked for accuracy.

On Wednesday, John O’Brien Jr., register of deeds in Salem, Mass., announced that he had sent 31,897 allegedly fraudulent foreclosure-related documents to Holder. O’Brien said he asked for a criminal investigation of servicers and their law firms that had filed the documents because they “show a pattern of fraud,” forgery and false notarizations.

Corrupt guzzle to zatch (look it up).

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Sundays guests are Eliot Spitzer, former Governor and Attorney General of New York, David Stockman, President Reagan’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor, Dave Weigel MSNBC contributor on the ground in South Carolina and Catherine Rampell economics writer for The New York Times. Topics up for discussion are the South Carolina primary results, Stephen Colbert’s super PAC, and preview President Obama’s State of the Union address.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: George’s special guest will be GOP candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) who no doubt will be discussing his 3rd place loss in South Carolina primary and his win in the Iowa causes. Panel guests are ABC’s George Will, political strategist and ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd, National Journal’s Ron Brownstein, and The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel debate the quickly-changing primary landscape, and the upcoming Sate of the Union Address.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This Sunday’s guests Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) will discuss the aftermath of the South Carolina primary. also a panel discussion with John Dickerson, TIME Magazine Columnist Joe Klein, and Wall Street Journal Columnist Kelly Evans.

The Chris Matthews Show: The panel guests are Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Neil Swidey, The Boston Globe,

Major Garrett, National Journal Congressional Correspondent and Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post Columnist who will discuss GOP candidate Mitt Romney and the Obama attack ads.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: David’s guests are Mitt Romney supporter New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy (R), GOP candidate and winner of the South Carolina primary Newt Gingrich, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and DC Mayor Vincent Gray. Guests on the panel will be Host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Joe Scarborough, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, the BBC’s Katty Kay, and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Making appearances are Presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-SC)

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Gingrich wins South Carolina primary  

Former US house speaker raises the possibility of a lengthy campaign by beating the Republicans’ favourite, Romney.

Last Modified: 22 Jan 2012 07:30

Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, took roughly 40 per cent of the vote. His victory means that three different candidates have won the first three contests in the state-by-state Republican primary, reflecting a party electorate that has yet to make up its mind.

Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, won the Iowa caucuses on January 3, and Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, won the New Hampshire primary on January 10.

Speaking at a late-night victory rally in Greenville on Saturday, Gingrich complimented his rivals before laying into Obama, whom he called a “radical” who would transform the United States into a European-style socialist state.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Beijing releases pollution data after public pressure

Thousands of women could be at risk from ‘silent Thalidomide’

Writers’ protest runs foul of Indian law

For activists, Egypt revolution still on a year later

A Point of View: The tyranny of unwelcome noise