03/03/2015 archive

Just another round of Clinton bashing.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There are lots of reasons to not like the Clintons, Bill or Hil, including Bill’s disastrous economic policy and pandering to Republicans and Hillary’s war hawk foreign policy and her Billionaire bootlicking.  They are conservative, Blue Dog, DLC, Third Way Democrats hardly deserving of the party moniker.

But of all the things to get riled about why do the Villagers choose the most petty and technical.  You know, it’s not illegal to get a blowjob, even from someone who is not your wife.  Yeah, it’s pretty skeevy and reprehensible especially given the power relationship between a boss and an intern, but not illegal.

Benghazi?  There is simply no there there.  If someone picked up the phone and called the very second things started going pear shaped there is simply no way the cavalry could have arrived in time to make any difference at all in how dead those people were without breaking the laws of physics which as Scottie points out, “Ya canna do Captain.”

And just so the e-mail scandal.

You see, it’s not even a technical violation of the policy at the time.

Hillary’s emails ‘not technically illegal’

By Julian Hattem, The Hill

03/03/15 04:16 PM EST

Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account to conduct official business as secretary of State caused seems to have stayed within the law, experts say.

“What she did was not technically illegal,” said Patrice McDermott, a former National Archives staffer and the head of the Open The Government coalition, a transparency group.

A Clinton spokesman defended the practice as routine and said that the former first lady obeyed “both the letter and spirit of the rules.”

“Like secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials,” spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement. “For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Obama administration had given “very specific guidance” telling all agencies that staffers should use their official email accounts when conducting official business, and that any business conducted through personal email accounts be “preserved consistent with the Federal Records Act.”

Last November, Obama signed into law a bill requiring government emails dealing with an official matter sent from a personal account to be forwarded to an official email account within 20 days. That law and previous guidance issued by the National Archives have attempted to clarify the rules, but it was never expressly mandated that top-level officials use government-issued accounts.

“There was no prohibition on using a non-State.gov account for official business as long as it was preserved,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

You have no idea how much it bugs me to go on the record supporting Hillary, but it is what it is.

I think I’ll have a nice long shower.

How to Lose an Election Without Really Trying

The Hill reported on Monday that centrist Democrats were preparing to fight the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the party fearing that a shift to the left would lead to greater losses in 2016.

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

“I have great respect for Sen. Warren – she’s a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side.”

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, “it’s going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition.”

“To the extent that Republicans beat up on workers and Democrats beat up on employers – I’m not sure that offers voters much of a vision,” Peters said.

Warren’s rapid ascent has highlighted growing tensions in the Democratic Party about its identity in the post-Obama era. [..]

Leaders at three centrist groups – the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the New Democrat Network (NDN) and Third Way – arranged a series of meetings with moderates after the disastrous midterm elections to “discuss the future of the party,” according to a source close to the NDC.

The laughable part in that article is thinking that Barack Obama’s election in 2008 brought about a shift to the left in Democratic caucus was bad for the party:

One sign of the shift is the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition, a once-sizable bloc of conservative Democrats that is nearly extinct. More than two-dozen of its members were ousted from office in 2010.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who is viewed as a centrist, said the centrist strain of politician is declining and estimated that “there’s fewer than 100” left in Congress.

“We need more moderates and centrists in both parties,” Carper said. “Part of politics is the art of compromise.”

The problem with that thinking is that it was centrist/right wing/Blue Dog policies that lost the Democrats the House in 2010 and this year the Senate. You can’t compromise with the right wing fundamentalists who are dominating the GOP. That lesson should have been learned during the debt ceiling fight in 2011 when Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) bragged that he got 98% of what he wanted. That’s not compromise, that’s caving. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) got the message and held the Democratic caucus together during last week’s battle to pass a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Today that clean bill passed.

Third Way and “Fix the Debt” Democrats are nothing more that tools of Wall Street and billionaire Pete Peterson who founded and funds Third Way and commissions like Pres. Obama’s Cat Food Commission (that the Democratic congress refused to form) that was nothing more than a cover for destroying Social Security and what is left of the social safety net. None of that is centrist, it is pure corporate right wing ideology. Now they’re back and want the left to shut up, especially Sen. Warren.

As Richard Eskow so pointedly notes Democrats in 2010 and 2014 ran on those centrist policies and lost. Now they want to do it again in 2016. That’s not just insanity, it’s political suicide.

Shout louder, Sen. Warren. Somebody has to keep this country on a better path.

Cenk Uygur: MSNBC Not Left Wing. Never Was

Recently MSNBC announced that it was making major programming changes to counter its ratings slide. It cancelled two afternoon programs, “The Reid Report” and “The Ronan Farrow Daily” which were replaced by two hours of news programming hosted by Thomas Roberts. A source at MSNBC said that the goal was to “move away from left wing TV.” If anyone ever thought that MSNBC was “left wing TV” than they were paying attention. Three hours of disgraced Republican has-been Joe Scarborough and the other programming throughout the day and into prime time that spouted DNC talking points is not left wing. Never was. And that is why MSNBC is falling in its ratings, as the left wing host of Young Turks, Cenk Uygur, points out he has two million viewers every day.

Maybe, MSNBC should hire Cenk and get Keith Olbermann back and fire Joe Scarborough who is more suited for Fox News.

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

Dean Baker: Signs of intelligent life in the economics profession

Larry Summers and other top economists finally reject the orthodoxy of the past 20 years

Last month, Larry Summers ripped into those arguing that more education is the answer to the country’s rampant inequality.

“The core problem is that there aren’t enough jobs,” said the former Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton and top economics adviser to Barack Obama. “If you help some people, you could help them get the jobs, but then someone else won’t get the jobs. Unless you’re doing things that have things that are affecting the demand for jobs, you’re helping people win a race to get a finite number of jobs.”

He made these comments at a conference at the Brookings Institution put on by the Hamilton Project, the economics think tank funded by Summers’ predecessor at the Clinton Treasury, Robert Rubin.

If the significance of these comments is not clear, the most important economic figure of the Democratic Party mainstream was demolishing one of the party’s central themes over the last two decades. Summers was arguing that the problems of the labor force – weak employment opportunities, stagnant wages and rising inequality – were not going to be addressed by increasing the education and skills of the workforce. Rather, the problem was the overall state of the economy.

David Cay Johnston: Financiers and power producers rig electricity markets

Sleepy regulators in New England allow consumers to be robbed of billions of dollars

For decades Wall Street financial engineers, teaming up with electric power producers, have gamed wholesale electricity auctions to earn bigger profits than either a regulated utility or a competitive market would yield. This month they made a major advance in their campaign to get rich by subtly draining your wallet. Yet every major news organization ignored this.

This latest development took place in New England, which already has America’s most expensive electricity. February’s electricity auction saw the annual cost to customers rise to $4 billion, up from about $3 billion in last year’s auction and less than $2 billion in the 2013 auction. That $4 billion figure would have been much higher but for a rule capping prices.

By the way, that $4 billion is not for the electricity, which costs extra. The $4 billion price tag is for capacity payments made to owners just for promising to run their power plants in 2018 and ’19.

If that sounds bizarre, it’s because it is. It is comparable to government taxing us to pay auto dealers to keep enough cars and trucks on their lots to satisfy expected future demand.

Richard Eskow:

Frank Underwood is known for deceiving people into acting against their own best interests. (We’ll miss you, President Walker.) Now we learn that this trait may extend to the series that features him.

The greatest betrayals on “House of Cards” can be found in the misleading arguments, presented as “truth,” that suggest that cutting “entitlements” is a necessity and raising taxes isn’t even an option.

The fact that Netflix has insisted upon heavy tax breaks for filming the show in Maryland may be merely coincidental. Here’s what’s not: We have learned that the series hired a leading “new Democrat” (read, “corporate Democrat”) as a consultant for the show’s most misleading episode.

The audience loves watching Frank Underwood deceive other characters. It’s less likely to appreciate being deceived itself, especially as some real-life Frank Underwoods are launching an attack against the party’s populist wing.

Paul Buccheit: Four Reasons Young Americans Should Burn Their Student Loan Papers

Fifty years ago students burned their draft cards to protest an immoral war against the people of Vietnam. Today it’s a different kind of war, immoral in another way, waged against young Americans of approximately the same age, and threatening them in a manner that endangers not their lives but their livelihoods.

There are at least four good reasons why America’s young adults- and their parents-should take up the fight against financial firms who are holding high-interest student loans that total more than the nation’s credit card debt, and more than the total income of the poorer half of America. [..]

Progressives have no shortage of important causes, but an attack on predatory student loan policies could be a unifying force for us, particularly if the power of social networking is employed.

An Apple executive said, “The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.” But almost the entirety of corporate profits are being spent on stock buybacks to enrich executives and shareholders, rather than on job training.

Mary Tirck: US sells prisoners to the highest bidders

Willacy strike highlights larger problems within the prison-industrial complex

On Feb. 20 prisoners at the Willacy County Correctional Center refused to work and eat breakfast, to protest inadequate medical care at the for-profit Texas tent prison. The situation soon escalated into a riot, with inmates setting fire to some of the tents and at least three injuries. Guards used tear gas to quell the uprising.

A day later, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) said the Willacy facility, which houses mostly undocumented immigrants – many held for illegal border crossing and low-level offenses – was uninhabitable and its 2,800 prisoners would be moved to other facilities.

The Willacy prison fiasco highlights the problems of privatizing prisons and prison services across the U.S. Instead of protecting their limited rights, state and federal governments are selling prisoners to the highest bidder.

Criminal alien requirement (CAR) prisons such as Willacy only magnify the routine abuses of private prisons. CAR prisons are almost entirely filled with low-security immigrant prisoners serving time before being deported. The overwhelmingly majority of Willacy prisoners were convicted only of illegal re-entry into the United States. Most of the other prisoners are there for low-level drug crimes.

John Nichols: Mr. Spock Was a McGovernite: Remembering Leonard Nimoy’s ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Politics

The tributes to Leonard Nimoy that have filled newspaper front pages and television broadcasts since his death Friday have begun to reveal a measure of the man’s remarkable reach, which extended far beyond his development of perhaps the most enduring and beloved character in modern science fiction.

He was a dedicated artist who acted on stage and screen, directed plays and films, wrote poetry and earned praise for his photography; a generous donor to the arts and many causes; a proud Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) member; and an early champion of diversity and pay equity-as was revealed in recent reports on how Mr. Spock advocated for equal pay for Lt. Uhura (actress Nichelle Nichols).

So perhaps it will not come as a surprise that, at the height of his initial fame, Nimoy was an ardent McGovern man.

TBC: Morning Musing 3.3.15

I have 4 articles on a common theme for ya this morning!

First, TransCanada is using eminent domain to seize land, and all those property rights folks on teh right are strangely silent, go figure:

TransCanada Is Seizing People’s Land To Build Keystone, But Conservatives Have Been Dead Silent

Crawford, who lives in Direct, Texas, had been trying since 2011 to keep the pipeline company off her property. But she ultimately lost, the portion of her land needed for the pipeline condemned through eminent domain – a process by which government can force citizens to sell their property for “public use,” such as the building of roads, railroads, and power lines. Crawford can’t wrap her head around why TransCanada, a foreign company, was granted the right of eminent domain to build a pipeline that wouldn’t be carrying Texas oil through the state of Texas.

That question – how eminent domain can be used in a case like Keystone – has some anti-Keystone groups stumped too. But the groups that usually are vocal proponents of property rights, including the Institute for Justice, have been silent when it comes to the controversial pipeline.

“I have not seen a single group that would normally rail against eminent domain speak up on behalf of farmers or ranchers on the Keystone XL route,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-Keystone group Bold Nebraska.

That’s surprising to Kleeb, whose organization is supporting the efforts of a group of Nebraska landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route who have held out against giving TransCanada access to their land. She had thought that at least a few conservative or pro-lands rights groups would have voiced their general support for Keystone XL, but still denounced the use of eminent domain to get it built. That hasn’t happened, Kleeb said – not among property rights groups nor among most pro-Keystone lawmakers.

“If this were a wind mill project or a solar project, Republicans would have been hair-on-fire crazy supporting the property rights of farmers and ranchers,” she observed. “But because it’s an oil pipeline, it’s fine.”


On This Day In History March 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.

March 3 is the 62nd day of the year (63rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 303 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1887, Anne Sullivan begins teaching six-year-old Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after a severe illness at the age of 19 months. Under Sullivan’s tutelage, including her pioneering “touch teaching” techniques, the previously uncontrollable Keller flourished, eventually graduating from college and becoming an international lecturer and activist. Sullivan, later dubbed “the miracle worker,” remained Keller’s interpreter and constant companion until the older woman’s death in 1936.

Sullivan, age 20, arrived at Ivy Green, the Keller family estate, in 1887 and began working to socialize her wild, stubborn student and teach her by spelling out words in Keller’s hand. Initially, the finger spelling meant nothing to Keller. However, a breakthrough occurred one day when Sullivan held one of Keller’s hands under water from a pump and spelled out “w-a-t-e-r” in Keller’s palm. Keller went on to learn how to read, write and speak. With Sullivan’s assistance, Keller attended Radcliffe College and graduated with honors in 1904.

Helen Keller became a public speaker and author; her first book, “The Story of My Life” was published in 1902. She was also a fundraiser for the American Foundation for the Blind and an advocate for racial and sexual equality, as well as socialism. From 1920 to 1924, Sullivan and Keller even formed a vaudeville act to educate the public and earn money. Helen Keller died on June 1, 1968, at her home in Westport, Connecticut, at age 87, leaving her mark on the world by helping to alter perceptions about the disabled.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Show Fix)

Larry continues to feel his way forward with his format and tonight could actually be a big leap forward if his bookers can keep coming up with high profile guests.

Tonight we’ll spend the whole half hour with Bill DiBlasio and I’ll be interested to see how it works out.

After a month or so now of some hits and some misses (hey, if you put it in play 50% of the time in Baseball you’re generally considered a pretty good bat) I’m kind of hoping that this format kind of works for him.

You see, the problems are first that we are not getting a set up each night.  The opening monologue is where you introduce the players and frame the debate, kind of like putting your leadoff men on base.  Secondly 4 people is too many for the panel, especially when so many of them are lightly known.  They don’t get enough face time with the audience to demonstrate their expertise (if they are serious) or be funny (if they are) and frankly it’s hard to keep them straight.

What I think could actually work is an old fashioned kind of Meet The Press style- 1 to 4 minutes of monologue (why are we watching this, who will we talking to) and then a short segment with just Larry and the guest developing the guest’s point of view.

After that we can bring in the panel (and I’d recommend no more than 2 to allow the audience time to familiarize themselves with them) and put the guest on the grill for about 10 – 12 minutes.

I do think the whole ‘Keeping it 100’ thing works and I would keep that part of it, but Larry and his writers need to be able to step in and pick it up because the questions so far are lame.  I don’t know if that’s just because they aren’t getting many good ones or they’re picking bad ones.

Finally, Lary can’t be allowed to slide off the hook with ‘Weak Tea’ like this-

What the heck is that???  All 4 of the ladies on his panel?  If I was his wife it would have been a long, cold weekend on the couch after that one.  And it may have been gallant but it was a stone cold weasel.

You know, I had another clip in mind (opening panel segment), but frankly last Thursday’s whole show was nothing special and the clip (though the highlight) was no better than the rest of it.


Well, we’ll see if Jon survived his taping of Monday Night Raw (or maybe not until tomorrow if they did it after The Daily Show.  These Rock and Wrestling mashups rarely work though ever since Cyndi Lauper teamed up with Captain Lou Albano they keep trying it.

The lowly, average, regular rich

This Week’s Guests-

I do hope Robert Smigel talks about some of his SNL work like ‘The Ambiguously Gay Duo’ but I suspect he’ll be talking about the return of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in Friday’s The Jack and Triumph Show on Adult Swim.  It’s a funny bit…

For me to poop on.

The real news below.