08/03/2012 archive


I haven’t written a lot about Mitt Romney because it’s too painfully obvious that he’s a soulless, unprincipled waste of breath, the epitome of the sociopathic thieving greed heads who’ve ruined our environment and economy, as well as an out-of-touch selfish piece of shit who has utterly no empathy or understanding of anything not Mitt Romney.  It really is like the whole world disappears when he leaves the room for him.

I’d say his only natural talent is lying except he’s very bad at it.

Nor do I waste much time on Republicans as the Party is merely a haven for ignorant bigots and those who prey on their gullibility.  The only reason they survive at all is the Democratic Party resurrected them as a stalking horse for their own basic instincts to defraud and steal from the people of the United States, all 99.9% of us, for the benefit of their corporate masters.

Jon is not the only ‘liberal’ who misses the point.

Irony Appears Lost on Romney

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Friday August 3, 2012 9:31 am

The simple fact is that Romney has made claims about his tax returns that he refuses to provide proof for. The position of the Romney campaign is that the everyone should simply trust what Romney says about his taxes even though Romney won’t verify them by releasing his returns. Now that Reid is the one making claims about Romney’s tax returns, though, Romney ironically claims it is totally unacceptable for someone to make statements unless they are willing to provide the proof to back them up.

In the same interview Romney attacks Reid for not being willing to “put up” proof to back up his claims, Romney makes his own counterclaims that Reid is not telling the truth, while he himself is still refusing to “put up” the simple piece of proof that would show if Reid is wrong.

It really is that transparent, and it would be ‘irresponsible’ not to speculate.

The problem is that Democrats are lying too when they say what matters is ‘electoral victory’.

Reid Quadruples and Quintuples Down on Romney Tax Return Comments

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Friday August 3, 2012 10:56 am

The liberal squishes deeply concerned with Reid “playing dirty” are sadly typical, but it’s not going to change Reid’s position.

In yet ANOTHER comment (quintupling down?), Reid welcomed Romney to Nevada by reiterating that he couldn’t be confirmed by the Senate to a Presidential appointment without releasing more tax returns, adding that “The contents of the one year of returns he has released would probably be enough to tank his nomination anyway: secret overseas bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, tax avoidance tricks and a lower tax rate than middle-class families pay.” He also connected the tax plan Romney has put out, the subject of a damning Tax Policy Center report this week, to the tax returns issue. Not only is the very rich Romney hiding his tax exposure, he’s planning as President to make millionaires pay less and the middle class pay more. “In short, Romney’s message to Nevadans is this: he won’t release his taxes, but he wants to raise yours.” That’s a winning slogan.

My final point is, and I’ve said this before, you can stop talking about Democrats being “weak.” They know how to play politics; none of them got into office as idealistic rubes. They can be tough. They can play dirty. They just don’t want to do that for things like genuine universal health care or increasing Social Security benefits or protecting the climate or ensuring workers’ rights to collective bargaining. When it’s about getting their guy re-elected, sure they’ll get tough. Just not on, you know, liberal policy, which isn’t really their main focus.

A government unresponsive to the needs of the people will inevitably fail.

You’re Doing It Wrong!: Chick-fil-A Edition

Originally posted at Voices on the Square, a new blog in the sphere featuring News, Information, and Fun!

Welcome to You’re Doing It Wrong, a weekly column taking the Powers That Be (PTB), especially the media and talking heads, to task for poor information and poor framing.

Well, this week I’m ruffled by, yes, the Chik-fil-A brouhaha and something the media is doing that is not constructive.

This week marked the big right wing Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, so there were not only prominent people speaking up about it, but the media covered it pretty heavily on Wednesday.

People like Mike Huckabee set the stage by framing the argument as one of defending Dan Cathy’s freedom of speech and stopping him from “being disenfranchised from his citizenship and rights of free speech”.  Rick Santorum not only cited the free speech, but also freedom of religion. Pretty soon all their followers were parroting these talking points.

More below the fold…

Olympic Firsts for a Determined Champion

On Thursday night a diminutive 16 year old took the gold medal in Individual Gymnastics and accomplished something unique, not once but twice with the same performance. Gabrielle Christina Victoria “Gabby” Douglas, a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics teama member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, became first African-American and first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. She did it with support and encouragement from her family in Virginia Beach and her adopted family in Des Moines, Iowa where she trained under Liang Chow, the former coach of 2008 Summer Olympics gold medal-winner Shawn Johnson.

She’s not done yet. Gabby is scheduled to compete in the finals of uneven bars on August 6 and balance beam on August 7.

Fly, Gabby, fly.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Gore Vidal: America the Great … Police State

The following was first published July 28, 2009.

For those of us who had hoped that the Obama administration would present us with a rebirth of the old republic that was so rudely erased a few years ago by that team of judicial wreckers, Bush and Gonzales, which led, in turn, to a recent incident in Cambridge, Mass. that inspired a degree of alarm in many Americans. But what was most alarming was the plain fact that neither the president nor a “stupid” local policeman seemed to understand the rules of behavior in a new America, where we find ourselves marooned as well as guarded (is that the verb?) by armed police who have been instructed that they are indeed, once armed, the law and may not be criticized verbally or in any other way and are certainly not subject to any restrictions as to whom they arrest or otherwise torment.

This is rather worse than anyone might have predicted, even though the signs have been clear for some years that ours is now a proto-fascist nation and there appears to be no turning back; nor, indeed, much awareness on the part of our ever-alert media. Forgive me if you find my irony heavy, but I too get tired of carrying it about in “the greatest nation in the country,” as Spiro Agnew liked to say.

New York Times Editorial: A Pernicious Drive Toward Secrecy

In response to recent news media disclosures about the so-called kill list of terrorist suspects designated for drone strikes and other intelligence matters, the Senate Intelligence Committee has approved misguided legislation that would severely chill news coverage of national security issues

Drafted in secret without public hearings, the provisions are part of the intelligence authorization bill for fiscal 2013. If enacted, the bill would undermine democracy by denying Americans access to information essential to national debate on critical issues like the extent of government spying powers and the use of torture.

Under the measure, only the director, deputy director and designated public affairs officials of intelligence agencies would be permitted to “provide background or off-the-record information regarding intelligence activities to the media.” Briefings on sensitive topics by lower-level or career officials, who are not quoted by name, would be prohibited, shutting off routine news-gathering and exchanges that provide insight into government policies. None of these traditional press activities compromise the nation’s safety. There is no exception carved out for whistle-blowers or other news media contacts that advance the public’s awareness of government operations, including incidents of waste, fraud and abuse in the intelligence sphere.

Paul Krugman: Debt, Depression, DeMarco

There has been plenty to criticize about President Obama’s handling of the economy. Yet the overriding story of the past few years is not Mr. Obama’s mistakes but the scorched-earth opposition of Republicans, who have done everything they can to get in his way – and who now, having blocked the president’s policies, hope to win the White House by claiming that his policies have failed.

And this week’s shocking refusal to implement debt relief by the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency – a Bush-era holdover the president hasn’t been able to replace – illustrates perfectly what’s going on.

Some background: many economists believe that the overhang of excess household debt, a legacy of the bubble years, is the biggest factor holding back economic recovery. Loosely speaking, excess debt has created a situation in which everyone is trying to spend less than their income. Since this is collectively impossible – my spending is your income, and your spending is my income – the result is a persistently depressed economy.

Amy Goodman: The Obama Administration Torpedoes the Arms Trade Treaty

Quick: What is more heavily regulated, global trade of bananas or battleships? In late June, activists gathered in New York’s Times Square to make the absurd point, that, unbelievably, “there are more rules governing your ability to trade a banana from one country to the next than governing your ability to trade an AK-47 or a military helicopter.” So said Amnesty International USA’s Suzanne Nossel at the protest, just before the start of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which ran from July 2 to July 27. Thanks to a last-minute declaration by the United States that it “needed more time” to review the short, 11-page treaty text, the conference ended last week in failure.

There isn’t much that could be considered controversial in the treaty. Signatory governments agree not to export weapons to countries that are under an arms embargo, or to export weapons that would facilitate “the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes” or other violations of international humanitarian law. Exports of arms are banned if they will facilitate “gender-based violence or violence against children” or be used for “transnational organized crime.” Why does the United States need more time than the more than 90 other countries that had sufficient time to read and approve the text? The answer lies in the power of the gun lobby, the arms industry and the apparent inability of President Barack Obama to do the right thing, especially if it contradicts a cold, political calculation.

John Nichols: A Presidential Candidate Willing to Get Arrested to Fight Foreclosure Abuse

It is not quite true that a third-party presidential candidate has to get arrested to get attention from the media. Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee for the presidency this year, has gotten her share of attention-in part because she is a genuinely impressive contender, in part because her campaign has been strikingly focused and professional in its approach.

But Stein got a good deal of attention Wednesday for a good reason. She was busted with fellow Greens and activists from the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign outside the Philadelphia office of Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage lender that is foreclosing on precisely the people it is supposed to help.

Most politicians avoid saying-let alone doing-anything of consequence regarding the foreclosure crisis. But Stein, her vice presidential running-mate (Cheri Honkala, who last year mounted a campaign for sheriff in Philadelphia as part of an anti-foreclosure fight), labor lawyer James Moran and Sister Margaret McKenna of the Medical Mission Sisters were arrested after attempting to gain access to the Fannie Mae office through an adjacent financial institution on Philadelphia’s “Bankers Row.”

The charge was one that any activist would be proud of: “defiant trespassing.”

Jodi Jacobson: Ninth Circuit Court Blocks Arizona’s Extreme Abortion Ban

As women across the country celebrate the first day of coverage without co-pays of a wide range of preventive care services, including contraception without a co-pay, health and rights groups are fighting in the courts to maintain access to safe abortion care at the state level.

And yesterday afternoon, they won a battle in that fight.

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked enforcement of Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban, signed into law earlier this year by Governor Jan Brewer. On Monday night, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court seeking an injunction blocking the law from going into effect tomorrow, after a district court judge refused to do so.

The bill is considered by many to be the most restrictive ban in the nation, and may present a direct challenge to Roe. Based on false claims that a fetus at 20-weeks’ gestation can feel pain, it criminalizes virtually all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and contains only narrow exceptions for medical emergencies, forcing a physician caring for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to wait until her condition poses an immediate threat of death or major medical damage before offering her the care she needs.

On This Day In History August 3

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.

Click on images to enlarge

August 3 is the 215th day of the year (216th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 150 days remaining until the end of the year.

On August 3, 1958, the U.S. nuclear submarine Nautilus accomplishes the first undersea voyage to the geographic North Pole. The world’s first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus  dived at Point Barrow, Alaska, and traveled nearly 1,000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to reach the top of the world. It then steamed on to Iceland, pioneering a new and shorter route from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Europe.

The USS Nautilus was constructed under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover, a brilliant Russian-born engineer who joined the U.S. atomic program in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the navy’s nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world’s first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule. In 1952, the Nautilus’ keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955.

USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. She was also the first vessel to complete a submerged transit across the North Pole.

Named for the submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Nautilus was authorized in 1951 and launched in 1954. Because her nuclear propulsion allowed her to remain submerged for far longer than diesel-electric submarines, she broke many records in her first years of operation and was able to travel to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines. In operation, she revealed a number of limitations in her design and construction; this information was used to improve subsequent submarines.

The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. She has been preserved as a museum of submarine history in New London, Connecticut, where she receives some 250,000 visitors a year.

XXX Olympiad- Day 10

Broadcast Schedule

Time Network Sport Competitors
6:30 am Vs. Beach Volleyball elimination
7 am Vs. Women’s Football SWE v FRA
7 am Bravo Tennis (Men’s and Women’s Semifinal) all
8:30 am Vs. Women’s Volleyball JPN v RUS
9 am MS Men’s Gymnastics (Trampoline) all
9:30 am Vs. Women’s Football USA v NZL
10 am NBC Track & Field (Opening, Women’s 400m) all
10:30 am NBC Rowing (Men’s Pair, Single and Quadruple Sculls, Women’s Double Sculls) (Medals) all
10:30 am MS Women’s Water Polo RUS v AUS
10:30 am NBC Swimming (Men’s and Women’s 4x100m Medley, Men’s 1500m, Women’s 50m Free) all
11 am Vs. Archery (Men’s Individual Final) (Medal) all
11:30 am NBC Track & Field (Qualifying) all
11:30 am MS Women’s Handball RUS v BRA
noon NBC Beach Volleyball elimination
noon Vs. Women’s Football (Elimination) BRA v JPN
12:30 pm MS Women’s Water Polo ESP v HUN
1:30 pm Vs. Shooting (Medal) all
1:30 pm MS Equestrian (Team Dressage Day 2 Qualifying) all
2 pm NBC Swimming (Men’s and Women’s 4x100m Medley, Men’s 1500m, Women’s 50m Free) all
2:30 pm NBC Women’s Water Polo USA v CHN
2:30 pm Vs. Women’s Football (Elimination) GBR v CAN
2:30 pm MS Table Tennis (Women’s Team) USA v JPN
3:30 pm MS Badminton (Mixed Doubles Final) (Medal) CHN v CHN
3:30 pm NBC Rowing (Men’s Pair, Single and Quadruple Sculls, Women’s Double Sculls) (Medals) all
4 pm NBC Cycling (Track Cycling Final) (Medal) all
4 pm MS Beach Volleyball elimination
4 pm Vs. Weightlifting (Men’s) (Medal) all
4 pm NBC Track & Field (Medal) all
5 pm Vs. Women’s Basketball CZE v USA
5 pm CNBC Boxing (Men’s Fly and Welter Weight) elimination
7 pm Vs. Beach Volleyball elimination
8 pm NBC Prime Time (Men’s 100m Fly, Men’s Trampoline (finals), Track & Field, Diving, Women’s Volleyball (USA v SRB)) (Medals)
12:30 am NBC Late Night (Cycling (Track Final), Heptathalon, Women’s Discus) (Medal) all
1:30 am NBC Prime Time repeat
3 am CNBC Boxing repeats elimination
4 am Vs. Triathalon (Medal) all

All this is sourced through the NBC Olympics broadcast schedule.  Competition starts again at 6 am tomorrow.  

Competitions designated by (Medal) will award winners that day.  ‘all’ means not specified.  Sometimes NBC especially does mashups and doesn’t include event or competitor information.  Elimination means no round robin, one and done.

These schedules are a place for you to make sure you don’t miss a sport you like and share your observations.  Have fun today!

After Warnings of an Olympic Crush, Businesses Suffer in a Deserted London

By JOHN F. BURNS, The New York Times

Published: August 2, 2012

With the Games nearing the end of their first week, and 10 more days to go, there has been no sign of the normal tourist-inflated crush at this time of the year – much less the no-room-to-move congestion officials warned would come with huge throngs of Olympic visitors competing for space on London’s notoriously overcrowded roads and transit systems, and in its shops, theaters, museums, galleries and restaurants.

Jeremy Hunt, the culture and sport minister in the Cameron cabinet, said Thursday that people who saw the Olympics as an economic body blow were premature and taking too narrow a view. The government now acknowledges that there is unlikely to be any short-term boost from the Games. It has reassured those nervous about its outlay on the Games – put at about $15 billion by government officials and as high as $20 billion by some experts, with road, railway and other improvements factored in – that the expense will be recouped in the long term by a $20 billion boost in Britain’s trade.

Mayor Boris Johnson, one of the Games’ biggest boosters, has made a midcourse correction of his own. He has admitted that the instant Olympic bounce he once forecast for London’s economy has evaporated, replaced by a “patchy” performance across many important sectors. But holding out for a turnaround, he has said things could improve as people realize that London without the crowds has become an unusually inviting place to go.

Normally crowded sidewalks in areas like Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Bond Street, Piccadilly and Soho have looked much as they do when the city empties for summer weekends. Tables at sidewalk cafes have gone begging, and tickets to the West End’s normally sold-out hit shows are readily available, often at 20 percent discounts.

Cabdrivers complain that business is down 30 percent from normal at this time of year. “Where are the million extra visitors that we were promised?” asked Steve McNamara, a spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association. He coupled this with a palpable absence of the national pride Mr. Cameron has urged on a nation hosting its first Olympics since 1948. “I’m looking forward to the closing ceremony,” on Aug. 12, Mr. McNamara said.

Stores in the upscale West End shopping district have said sales are down by 10 percent and more, and restaurants used to turning people away are desperate for trade. Ricky McMenemy, managing director of the Rules restaurant in Covent Garden, popular with Americans for a menu specializing in traditional British foods, said that after a “disaster” last Friday, when diners stayed away to watch the opening ceremony, the restaurant was “seeing a 50 percent downturn” in diners this week. Hundreds of West End hotels that had advertised rooms at premium prices, in some cases five times the normal rate, have dropped prices back to the usual level or even offered heavy discounts.

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  Brilliant!

A High-Profile Cheering Section for a Horse’s Olympic Debut

By MARY PILON, The New York Times

Published: August 2, 2012

Ann Romney, whose husband, Mitt, is the presumptive presidential candidate for the Republican party, was on hand as an owner of Rafalca, a 15-year-old mare.

Rafalca and her rider, the veteran equestrian Jan Ebeling, took the stage early and finished the opening round of their Olympic debut with a score of 70.243, placing 13th. They have to wait to see how the rest of the field fares Friday before knowing whether they will advance to the Grand Prix Special on Tuesday.

Well, people have asked.

The Goal Is Winning Gold, Not Winning Every Match

By SAM BORDEN, The New York Times

Published: August 2, 201

Derek Jeter is a career .313 hitter. And yet in certain situations, sometimes even important situations in important games, Jeter goes up to the plate with the intention of not getting a hit. If he is successful – that is, if he succeeds at failing – he will be congratulated by his teammates when he returns to the dugout. The rules of baseball and other sports create situations in which a type of failure can be good strategy.

In the badminton case, the teams’ ultimate goal was clear: win a gold medal. And what is one way to help do that? Avoid the best teams for as long as possible. This was not a sacrifice bunt because there was no sacrifice. The teams, after evaluating the tournament setup that was presented to them, saw an opportunity to give up nothing in the hope of gaining something significant. One could argue it would have been silly for them not to seize that opportunity.

On Tuesday in Cardiff, Wales, the Japanese women’s soccer team purposely played for a draw in its final group game, hanging back in the second half and never pushing forward to try to score. This strategy was ordered by the team’s coach, and his reasoning was simple: a draw meant his team would stay put and play its quarterfinal in the same city a few days later. A win meant the Japanese would have to travel to Scotland to play the knockout game.

To that coach, Norio Sasaki, less travel meant a better chance at winning the tournament. To those badminton players, a loss in the final group game meant the same. Fans who complained about having bought tickets to see something like that are not seeing the athletes’ big picture. The competitors’ main obligation is to do what sets them up best to win a medal. They trained to play well, yes, but more important, they trained to win a medal. And Tuesday, losing gave them the best chance to do that. If fans are still angry, they should be angry at the organizers who made the situation possible, not the athletes themselves.

At least someone agrees with me.

The Guardian interactive chart to see where Ye’s performance ranks against those of swimmers at similarly high profile competitions between 2010 and 2012.

You Know It’s Bad

You know it’s bad when even the neo-conservatives admit it.

American Enterprise Institute: U.S. Austerity Measures Hurting Broader Economy

Austerity lovers of the world take note: Cutting government spending hurts the economy and it’s not just the Paul Krugmans of the world that say so.

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, has some data out indicating that cutting government spending may be off-setting private sector growth. That’s notable, especially when coming from an organization with the motto “Freedom. Opportunity. Enterprise.”

Public sector GDP — a measure of the goods and services produced by the government — has shrunk for eight consecutive quarters, according to AEI. At the same time, private sector growth has increased for 12 quarters in a row, indicating that America’s slow overall GDP growth may mostly be a result of a drop in government spending.

In just the last year, federal spending has fallen more than 3 percent, and the cuts may be countering private-sector growth, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The findings show that slashing government spending may not exactly be the best way to boost the economy, even though that’s exactly what lawmakers around the world are considering. That some of the data comes from conservative-leaning AEI adds fuel to the arguments of progressive economists, who argue that painful austerity measures don’t help economies in trouble; they hurt them.

Would somebody please wake up and smell the coffee?